YSL trial delayed until next year after defendant stabbed in jail

Court to resume Jan. 2, judge says

The lengthy gang and racketeering trial against Grammy Award-winning rapper Young Thug and five others is on hold until next year after one of the defendants was stabbed over the weekend at the Fulton County Jail.

Court was canceled Monday after defendant Shannon Stillwell was stabbed multiple times the night before, according to the sheriff’s office and Stillwell’s attorney. On Tuesday, Chief Judge Ural Glanville decided it would be best to pause the trial until January.

Glanville had already planned to suspend the trial from Dec. 16 until Jan. 2 so jurors could enjoy the holidays, but the hiatus started early given Stillwell’s condition.

Defendant Shannon Stillwell was stabbed multiple times Sunday night.

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“Remember (Monday) we recessed ‘cause one of our participants had a medical issue?” Glanville asked the jury. “Well, unfortunately, that medical condition still exists.”

Glanville did not tell the jury which defendant was injured or that he was shanked in the county’s perpetually troubled jail.

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 Stillwell’s stabbing, authorities said. The two were being housed in the same area of the jail, but Stillwell’s attorney, Max Schardt, said he did not have comprehensive details about exactly what led to the 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 Monday. “We remain committed to ensuring his safety with hopes to get him back home to his family.”

The Fulton jail is being investigated 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 detainees have died in the custody of the Fulton sheriff’s office, the majority of them inside the Rice Street facility.

Atlanta rapper Young Thug and defense attorney Brian Steel.

Credit: Miguel Martinez

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Credit: Miguel Martinez

Stillwell was one of 28 people charged in last year’s sprawling gang indictment alongside Young Thug, whose real name is Jeffery Williams. Prosecutors allege Williams is the leader of “Young Slime Life,” which they contend is a Bloods-affiliated street gang based in south Atlanta.

Attorneys for the musician maintain their client is innocent. They say YSL stands for “Young Stoner Life” and is simply the name of the star’s record label.

Stillwell faces eight charges, including conspiring to violate the state’s racketeering statute; two counts of murder; two counts of participation in criminal street gang activity; two counts of possessing a firearm by a convicted felon; and possession of a firearm during the commission of a felony. He has been in custody since his March 2022 arrest.

Opening statements began Nov. 27 and the trial could last up to a year, officials have said. Selecting a jury in the sprawling gang trial took 10 months, and the slow-moving case was repeatedly delayed for reasons ranging from contraband being brought into court to prospective jurors getting in trouble during the selection process.

Young Thug, whose real name is Jeffery Williams, listens to Fulton County Chief Judge Ural Glanville as he tells the court his trial is on hold until next year after one of the defendants was stabbed over the weekend while in Jail. (Steve Schaefer/steve.schaefer@ajc.com)

Credit: Steve Schaefer

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Credit: Steve Schaefer

One defense attorney was arrested, another had his laptop seized and a courtroom deputy was jailed, accused of having an inappropriate romantic relationship with one of the former 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.

Some of the defense attorneys successfully petitioned the Georgia Public Defender Council for more money after it became apparent the $7,500 they initially agreed to take the case for would not be enough for what amounted to more than a year’s work.

Before dismissing the jury for the month, Glanville instructed the panel not to research the case or discuss the trial with anyone.