YSL case: Witness list grows but defendants down to 7

State opts against pursuing charges following murder conviction
Atlanta rapper Young Thug waits for the start of jury selection in the “Young Slime Life” gang case at the Fulton County Courthouse Tuesday, September 12, 2023.   (Steve Schaefer/steve.schaefer@ajc.com)

Credit: Steve Schaefer

Credit: Steve Schaefer

Atlanta rapper Young Thug waits for the start of jury selection in the “Young Slime Life” gang case at the Fulton County Courthouse Tuesday, September 12, 2023. (Steve Schaefer/steve.schaefer@ajc.com)

More than eight months after jury selection began in the slow-moving “Young Slime Life” gang trial, defense lawyers say they are still waiting on crucial discovery from Fulton County prosecutors — evidence that by law is supposed to be submitted at least 10 days before the start of trial.

Young Thug’s attorney, Brian Steel, said the prosecution’s witness list has nearly doubled in size, to more than 600, since the Jan. 4 start date.

“I now have to go back and redo my entire index in this case that has taken me over a year to put together,” he told Chief Judge Ural Glanville. “...This is outrageous to me.”

Defense attorney Max Schardt (Left) talks with defense attorney Brian Steel during jury selection in the ongoing "Young Slime Life" gang and racketeering trial at the Fulton County Courthouse on Tuesday, September 12, 2023. (Steve Schaefer/steve.schaefer@ajc.com)

Credit: Steve Schaefer

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Credit: Steve Schaefer

Defense attorneys also say the prosecution has turned over massive data dumps, making it difficult for them to sift through the evidence.

The 12th batch of discovery, turned over in late July, was a mix of photos, videos and documents totaling 303,661 files across 7,542 folders, they said. The latest witness list lacks addresses and phone numbers, said Steel, who complained prosecutors were turning over information in “dribs and drabs.”

“Mr. Williams is now approximately one month from the start of opening statements with 266 new witnesses to locate,” Steel wrote in an emergency motion.

Prosecutor Adriane Love said the number of newly disclosed witnesses is actually fewer than 100 and that the state has submitted updated witness lists throughout the trial, which is still in jury selection.

Deputy district attorney Adriane Love speaks at a hearing for the YSL case in Atlanta on Thursday, December 22, 2022.   (Arvin Temkar / arvin.temkar@ajc.com)

Credit: arvin.temkar@ajc.com

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Credit: arvin.temkar@ajc.com

“That’s still a lot,” Glanville told the state. “...That’s way too many to be unaccounted for so late in the process.”

The prosecution and defense must iron out the discovery and witness lists on Friday, he decided.

While the number of witnesses has grown, the number of defendants has decreased. Prosecutors decided not to pursue charges against Cordarius Dorsey, recently convicted of murder in a fatal 2020 shooting. It was Dorsey’s second murder conviction, and in light of his most recent life sentence, the state is opting not to pursue charges in the YSL trial “in the interest of judicial economy and efficiency.”

Seven defendants remain.

Cordarius Dorsey (left) sits alongside attorney Suri Chadha Jimenez during jury selection in the “Young Slime Life” gang case. The state is dismissing Dorsey's gang charges in light of his most recent murder conviction. (Steve Schaefer/steve.schaefer@ajc.com)

Credit: Steve Schaefer

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Credit: Steve Schaefer

“I’m a little disappointed that it took the state nine months to realize this is a major waste of taxpayer dollars,” said Dorsey’s attorney, Suri Chadha Jimenez. “He was already serving a life sentence without parole.”

Prosecutors allege Young Thug, whose real name is Jeffery Williams, heads a criminal street gang based in South Atlanta. The Grammy-winning rapper, who was among 28 people charged in the sprawling case, has been in jail since his May 2022 arrest.

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