YSL Trial: Defendant stabbed at Fulton jail; proceedings delayed until Tuesday

Defense attorney Max Schardt (right) confirmed that YSL defendant Shannon Stillwell was stabbed over the weekend in jail.

Credit: Steve Schaefer/AJC

Credit: Steve Schaefer/AJC

Defense attorney Max Schardt (right) confirmed that YSL defendant Shannon Stillwell was stabbed over the weekend in jail.

The slow-moving “Young Slime Life” trial involving Atlanta rapper Young Thug and his alleged associates faced yet another delay Monday after one of the defendants was stabbed over the weekend at Fulton County’s troubled jail.

Shannon Stillwell, also known as Shannon Jackson, was stabbed multiple times Sunday night during a fight with a fellow inmate, according to a statement from the Fulton Sheriff’s Office.

Willie Brown, a murder suspect who is accused of killing a teenager in 2020, now faces additional charges of aggravated assault and possession of prohibited items in connection with the stabbing.

The inmates were being housed in the same zone at the Rice Street facility, the sheriff’s office said. It is unknown what led to the fight, but Stillwell is considered stable, according to the statement. He was not in the courtroom Monday morning.

Stillwell’s attorney, Max Schardt, confirmed the stabbing to The Atlanta Journal-Constitution but said he did not have comprehensive details regarding the circumstances surrounding the alleged attack.

“We do know that Shannon has a target on his back due to the false allegations in this RICO indictment,” Schardt said in a statement. “We remain committed to ensuring his safety with hopes to get him back home to his family.”

Stillwell’s fiancée, Tyesha Alexander, told Channel 2 Action News that he was stabbed once in the stomach and once in the back. She said Stillwell will survive after a two-hour surgery.

Chief Judge Ural Glanville suspended court for the day after learning about the incident.

“Ladies and gentlemen, we’ve had a medical issue come up with one of our participants,” Glanville told the jury before sending them home.

It’s the latest incident at the Fulton jail, which is under investigation by a Georgia Senate panel and the U.S. Department of Justice due to dangerous conditions, overcrowding and a backlog of cases. Since January, 10 suspects have died while they were in the custody of the Fulton sheriff’s office, the majority of them inside the jail.

Stillwell was one of 28 people charged in last year’s sprawling gang indictment, including Young Thug, the Grammy Award-winning Atlanta rapper whose real name is Jeffery Williams. Only six of those 28, including Stillwell and Williams, are on trial.

Stillwell is facing eight charges, including conspiracy to violate RICO; two counts of murder; two counts of participation in criminal street gang activity; two counts of possession of a firearm by a convicted felon previously convicted of felony involving the use or possession of a firearm; and possession of a firearm during the commission of a felony. He has been in custody since March 2022.

The jury selection process in the lengthy case began in January and took about 10 months, and the trial itself officially began Nov. 27.

Young Thug is accused of being the leader and co-founder of Young Slime Life, which prosecutors say is a criminal street gang based in south Atlanta. The rapper has been in jail since his May 2022 arrest. His attorneys strongly deny the charges and say YSL, or Young Stoner Life, is simply the name of the star’s record label.

This is not the first time a stabbing at the jail has delayed the case. In February, three defendants — Christian Eppinger, Rodalius Ryan and Damone Blalock — were accused of stabbing a fellow inmate and sending him to the hospital.

Jury selection was also marred with other delays: one defense attorney was arrested, another had his laptop seized, and a courtroom deputy was fired and jailed after being accused of having an inappropriate romantic relationship with one of the defendants.

There have also been multiple instances of drugs being brought into court, law enforcement officers scuffling with defendants and potential jurors being held in contempt for failing to show up.

During the first week of the trial, three jurors were inadvertently shown on a live stream by a broadcast camera. A juror was then excused last week after being admitted to the hospital.

So far, nine defendants took plea deals and 12 others had their cases severed. Fulton prosecutors declined to pursue charges against Cordarius Dorsey after he was convicted of murder in a separate case and received a life sentence.

Prosecutors say they plan to introduce up to 400 witnesses, and the trial is expected to last six months to a year.

At a recent hearing about the Fulton jail before the state senate committee, sheriff’s general counsel Amelia Joiner told lawmakers that overcrowding strains the physical limits of the aging facility and contributes to the violence. In the first 10 months of the year, the facility recorded 293 stabbings, 337 fights, 922 assaults and more than 1,186 confiscated shanks, she said.

The DOJ investigation was launched months after the death of 35-year-old Lashawn Thompson, who was found unresponsive in the jail’s psychiatric wing on Sept. 13, 2022, covered in bed bugs. Then in August, Samuel Lawrence, 34, was found dead by a jail guard, allegedly strangled by another inmate. Just days after Lawrence’s death, Dayvion Blake, 23, was killed when “a dispute between a group of inmates” led to multiple stabbings inside the jail.

— Please return to The Atlanta Journal-Constitution for updates.

About the Authors