An attorney representing one of the 14 defendants charged in the sweeping “Young Slime Life” gang case is seeking a mistrial days after an hourslong police interrogation video was leaked online.
Gina Bernard, who represents Jayden Myrick, said the publication of discovery evidence in the case violates her client’s right to a fair and impartial jury.
“While said evidence may not directly implicate my client, it along with all of the publicity and courtroom incidents since the start of this trial ... make it impossible for him to receive a fair trial, as well as a jury that is honestly and truly fair and impartial,” Bernard wrote.
Myrick was sentenced to life in prison without parole last year in the July 2018 killing of Christian Broder, who was shot after a wedding at the Capital City Country Club. Myrick was convicted of murder, armed robbery, aggravated assault and 13 other counts in that case.
Bernard’s motion comes days after a video published online appeared to show a YSL associate speaking with Atlanta detectives for nearly four hours after his October 2021 arrest. The video, which was uploaded to YouTube and several other sites, has since been viewed millions of times, prosecutors said.
Chained to the floor during the duration of the interview, YSL Woody, whose real name is Kenneth Copeland, offered to provide the police information about their yearslong gang investigation in exchange for leniency.
“How could I help y’all help me, please?” Copeland, who is on the state’s witness list, is shown asking.
One of the detectives appears to have a rapport with Copeland, referring to previous conversations they’d had and telling him, “I’ve never lied to you.”
“We can’t promise you anything today, Woody,” the detective tells him. “I gotta make that clear.” She says the best she can do is tell the district attorney’s office that Copeland was helpful.
Copeland tells the detectives about a planned hit, saying, “Somebody is gonna get killed tonight,” then says if he is released from jail he could help investigators catch the perpetrators “in the act.”
The state’s case centers around musician Young Thug, whose real name is Jeffery Williams. Prosecutors say the Grammy Award-winning rapper is the leader of the YSL, a violent street gang responsible for much of Atlanta’s violence. His attorneys argue YSL is just a record label and strongly deny the charges.
Though he is mentioned in the indictment, Copeland wasn’t among the 28 alleged YSL associates initially charged last year. Fulton County prosecutors have asked Judge Ural Glanville to order an investigation into the source of the leaked video, which they said was posted to the web less than 30 days after being turned over to defense attorneys.
“The state has absolutely no interest in leaking this video to members of the public, as its dissemination serves only to intimidate and harass witnesses called upon by the state to testify in a very serious and high-profile case,” prosecutors wrote in a motion filed Tuesday.
The state also raised concerns about the safety of their cooperating witnesses, highlighting a number of social media comments that refer to Copeland “as a ‘rat’ and a ‘snitch’ whose death is warranted or even a forgone conclusion.”
One person wrote online that Copeland’s children would grow up without a father, for instance. Another said he deserves “every bullet he got coming.”
Going forward, the state is asking that any audio or video recordings entered as evidence in the case only be accessible to defense attorneys inside the district attorney’s office.
With 14 defendants remaining, the high-profile trial is expected to last six to nine months. Finding jurors who can take that much time of work has been challenging, however. Jury selection officially began Jan. 4, but weeks later, not a single person has been seated.
Additional groups of potential jurors are set to report to the courthouse on Feb. 24, March 17, April 28 and May 19.