Young Thug’s lawyers want goat sacrifice excluded from evidence

Footage of religious ceremony could be prejudicial, they argue
Attorney, Max Schardt, left, talks with his client, Shannon Stillwell, during jury selection in the sweeping Fulton County "Young Slime Life" trial. File photo.  (Steve Schaefer/steve.schaefer@ajc.com)

Credit: Steve Schaefer

Credit: Steve Schaefer

Attorney, Max Schardt, left, talks with his client, Shannon Stillwell, during jury selection in the sweeping Fulton County "Young Slime Life" trial. File photo. (Steve Schaefer/steve.schaefer@ajc.com)

Attorneys representing Grammy-award winning rapper Young Thug are asking a judge to exclude evidence of a goat sacrifice captured on police cameras during the arrest of one of the star’s co-defendants.

In a motion filed last week, attorneys Brian Steel and Keith Adams said body camera footage of the “religious ceremony,” captured during Shannon Stillwell’s March 2022 arrest, could unduly prejudice the jury.

Atlanta rapper Young Thug, whose real name is Jeffery Williams, speaks with attorney Brian Steel during the jury selection in his gang and racketeering trial. 
File photo. Miguel Martinez / miguel.martinezjimenez@ajc.com

Credit: Miguel Martinez

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Credit: Miguel Martinez

Young Thug, whose real name is Jeffery Williams, was among 28 people indicted last year in a sweeping Fulton County gang and racketeering case. Prosecutors allege the musician is the co-founder and leader of Young Slime Life, which they contend is a criminal street gang based in south Atlanta.

The rapper’s attorneys say their client is innocent and that YSL is just a record label.

Several defendants, including fellow rapper Gunna, accepted plea deals offered by the state. Williams, Stillwell and six other defendants are in the midst of jury selection for the high-profile trial that began in January.

Stillwell, who faces murder and other charges in the sprawling gang case, was arrested last year at a home in East Point. He was taken into custody “while in the midst of a religious ceremony which involved supposed sacrifice of goats,” Williams’ attorneys wrote in their request for a hearing on the matter.

They argued the introduction of such evidence at trial would unfairly influence the jury against all of the accused, including Williams, who was not present when the supposed goat sacrifice occurred. While the filing did not mention a specific religion, followers of certain faiths legally practice animal sacrifice.

In a statement, Stillwell’s attorney, Max Schardt, said his client is innocent of the charges and did not take part in sacrificing animals.

“We appreciate Attorney Steel’s desire for this trial to focus on the evidence and not irrelevant matters such as goat sacrifices or other religious customs,” Schardt said of the filing. “That being said, Mr. Stillwell was not involved in any such practices.”

The latest request to exclude evidence is one of several pre-trial motions on which Chief Judge Glanville has yet to rule.

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