Timeline: The YSL trial in Atlanta

Atlanta rapper Young Thug speaks with defense attorney Brian Steel during his ongoing gang and racketeering trial at Fulton County Courthouse on Tuesday, Jan. 2, 2024. (Natrice Miller/ Natrice.miller@ajc.com)

Credit: Natrice Miller/AJC

Credit: Natrice Miller/AJC

Atlanta rapper Young Thug speaks with defense attorney Brian Steel during his ongoing gang and racketeering trial at Fulton County Courthouse on Tuesday, Jan. 2, 2024. (Natrice Miller/ Natrice.miller@ajc.com)

Atlanta rapper Young Thug has been the focus of one of the most complex trials in Georgia’s history since his arrest in May 2022. More than two years later, the trial continues. Here’s a timeline of events thus far.

May 9, 2022: Chart-topping Atlanta rapper Young Thug, whose real name is Jeffery Williams, is indicted by a Fulton County grand jury along with 27 others, including fellow musician Gunna. The sprawling racketeering indictment alleged Williams is the co-founder and leader of a criminal street gang called Young Slime Life, or YSL. Authorities contend the group is based in the Cleveland Avenue area of south Atlanta, where Williams grew up.

May 9, 2022: That evening, Williams is handcuffed during a police raid at his Buckhead home and taken to jail. The Grammy winner’s arrest stunned fans and musicians alike.

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Atlanta Rapper Young Thug is seen moments before the start of the second week of his trial at Fulton County Superior Court on Monday, Dec. 4, 2023.
Miguel Martinez /miguel.martinezjimenez@ajc.com

Credit: Miguel Martinez

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Credit: Miguel Martinez

May 10, 2022: The following day, Fulton County District Attorney Fani Willis held a news conference in which she touted the sweeping gang indictment as a victory against crime. Willis called targeting gangs a top priority and claimed they were responsible for at least “75 to 80% of all of the violent crime that we are seeing within our community.” She later defended her decision to use the star’s rap lyrics against him, saying, “if you decide to admit your crimes over a beat, I’m going use it.”

May 11, 2022: Musician Gunna, who’s real name is Sergio Kitchens, turns himself in on the RICO charge. His attorneys released a statement maintaining his innocence. Authorities tack on drug and weapons possession charges for Young Thug stemming from a search of his home during the artist’s arrest. The defendants are held in jail without bond.

June 14, 2022: Gunna pens a letter from the Fulton County Jail on his 29th birthday. “For now, I don’t have my freedom. But I am innocent,” he said. “I am being falsely accused and will never stop fighting to clear my name!”

Aug. 5, 2022: The case is re-indicted and additional charges are added.

Oct. 6, 2022: Nearly five months after the indictment, Fulton prosecutors asked to delay the start of trial because eight of the 28 people charged still didn’t have defense attorneys. The request came days after veteran prosecutor Don Geary left the Fulton County District Attorney’s Office for a position in Gwinnett County. Adriane Love took over as the lead prosecutor in the case shortly after that.

Deputy District Attorney Adriane Love speaks in the probation revocation hearing of Quantavious Grier, brother of rapper Young Thug, at Fulton County court in Atlanta on Monday, June 5, 2023. (Arvin Temkar / arvin.temkar@ajc.com)

Credit: arvin.temkar@ajc.com

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Credit: arvin.temkar@ajc.com

Dec. 14, 2022: Gunna and another defendant accepted plea deals offered by the state and were released from jail. The musician entered a guilty plea to a single count of conspiracy to violate the state’s Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations (RICO) Act. He had his sentence commuted to time served but was ordered to complete 500 hours of community service. Several other defendants also accepted plea deals ahead of the start of jury selection.

Atlanta rapper Gunna, whose real name is Sergio Kitchens, is one of 28 people charged in a sweeping Fulton County gang indictment.

Credit: Contributed

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Credit: Contributed

Dec. 15, 2022: During a pre-trial hearing, someone barged into the court’s Zoom meeting with some full-frontal commentary. A pornographic video of a completely nude man was shown on screens throughout the courtroom along with the message “Free Young Thug.” Deputies scrambled to turn off the screens as the judge insisted on maintain decorum in the courtroom.

Jan. 4, 2023: Hundreds of potential jurors reported to the Fulton County Courthouse for the start of what would become the longest trial in Georgia history. The 12 trial jurors and six alternates weren’t seated until November. Several potential jurors got in trouble for failing to return to court, including one woman who said she traveled to the Dominican Republic on a business trip. Another potential juror spent about five hours in custody after she was caught filming court proceedings on her cellphone.

Jan. 18, 2023: Jury selection was disrupted when one of the defendants, Kahlieff Adams, was seen walking up to Young Thug and handing him what prosecutors said was a Percocet pill in open court.

April 17, 2023: Some attorneys begin complaining about the length of the case, saying the unusually long process kept them from assisting other clients. “To be honest, I could make more money working at Chick-fil-A,” said lawyer Justin Hill, who was one of the attorneys appointed by the Georgia Public Defender Council. The attorneys were initially told they would receive $15,000, regardless of how long the trial takes. The GPDC later agreed to pay them more money.

April 19, 2023: Court proceedings were interrupted by loud screams after deputies searched defendant Rodalius Ryan in a courthouse holding room and said they found two bags of marijuana sewn into his underwear.

April 20, 2023: The next day, defense attorney Anastasios Manettas was arrested at a secondary checkpoint when he tried to enter the courtroom with some of his prescription medication.

Defense attorney in YSL trial arrested after bringing prescription drugs to courthouse

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June 2, 2023: Courthouse deputy Akeiba Stanley is arrested and fired after she was accused of having a romantic relationship with defendant Christian Eppinger. Authorities alleged she “fostered an inappropriate relationship” with the defendant by visiting his jail cell and allegedly conspiring with one of his relatives to deliver prohibited items.

June 23, 2023: After more than a year behind bars, Young Thug releases a new album from jail. Titled “Business is Business,” the record featured rappers Drake, Future, 21 Savage and Travis Scott, among others. Fellow defendant Yak Gotti, whose real name is Deamonte Kendrick, is also featured on one of the tracks.

Oct. 18, 2023: Prosecutors reveal in a court filing that they spent more than a month surveilling a potential juror because they didn’t believe he lived in Fulton County. Some defense attorneys were shocked to learn the DA’s office used taxpayer resources to stake out the juror and track his movements.

Oct. 24, 2023: Another prospective juror was handcuffed in court and detained for six hours over emails he admitted sending to court staff. In one, the man called it “entirely unrealistic” to have to call a court hotline each night for instructions. In others, he complained about not being able to take a vacation and said that his participation in the case contributed to his wife’s anxiety and depression. “I believe the defendants are guilty,” he wrote, underscoring his unwillingness to continue as a juror in the case. He was ultimately excused from jury service.

Nov. 1, 2023: After a tedious 10-month selection process, a jury was finally selected for the sprawling gang and racketeering trial.

Fulton County Chief Judge Ural Glanville listens to witnesses testify during Atlanta rapper Young Thug's ongoing gang and racketeering trial at Fulton County Courthouse on  Jan. 2, 2024. (Natrice Miller/The Atlanta Journal-Constitution/TNS)

Credit: Natrice Miller/AJC

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Credit: Natrice Miller/AJC

Nov. 27, 2023: More than 18 months after Young Thug’s arrest, the trial begins in earnest with opening statements. Lead prosecutor Adriane Love likened YSL to a wolfpack and called Williams the “head of his gang.” Young Thug’s attorney, Brian Steel, painted the picture of a talented and hardworking young man who used his music to pull himself and his loved ones out of poverty.

Dec. 4, 2023: A trial juror was excused from the case after she was admitted to the hospital over the weekend.

Dec. 11, 2023: One of the defendants, Shannon Stillwell, is stabbed at the Fulton County jail, halting trial proceedings until after the holidays.

Feb. 23, 2024: Another trial juror was excused after moving out of Fulton County three months into the trial. Juror No. 204, a store manager, said she signed a lease in Cherokee County. She first notified the court of her plans to move six months earlier, well before she was selected as a juror.

Defense attorney Brian Steel reacts during the beginning of the second week in the YSL trial at Fulton County Courthouse on Monday, Dec. 4, 2023.
Miguel Martinez /miguel.martinezjimenez@ajc.com

Credit: Miguel Martinez

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Credit: Miguel Martinez

June 10, 2024: Brian Steel, a well-respected defense attorney, is held in contempt by Judge Ural Glanville after raising questions about a meeting held earlier in the day between the judge, state prosecutors and a key witness. Glanville demanded to know how Steel learned of the secret meeting, but the lawyer refused to divulge his source. Glanville sentenced Steel to 20 days in jail, to be served over 10 consecutive weekends. His sentence was later stayed by the Georgia Supreme Court, but his contempt charge has yet to be resolved.

July 1, 2024: On the 100th day of trial, Judge Ural Glanville halted proceedings until motions seeking his recusal are decided by another judge. The move came after Glanville faced backlash for a secret June 10 meeting between prosecutors and a reluctant state’s witness. None of the defense attorneys involved in the case were present for the meeting in Glanville’s chambers

July 15, 2024: After trial was halted for two weeks, Fulton County Superior Court Judge Rachel Krause removed Judge Ural Glanville from the ongoing case. Although Krause determined that the secret June 10 meeting was not improper, she said Glanville “added facts, provided context, questioned the veracity of allegations, and otherwise explained his decisions and actions and argued why those actions were proper” when denying and talking about motions to recuse. Judge Shukura Ingram was reassigned the case.