2 men indicted in Young Dolph’s murder appear in 1st court hearing

The Memphis rapper was shot and killed at a Memphis bakery on Nov. 17, 2021.

Two Memphis men who were indicted in the killing of rapper Young Dolph were arraigned in Shelby County Criminal Court on Wednesday. They face multiple charges, including first-degree murder.

Justin Johnson, 23, and Cornelius Smith, 32, declined public defenders and asked for more time to hire their own attorneys before the next court hearing, which Judge Lee V. Coffee scheduled for Jan. 28.

The first hearing in this case comes two months after the Memphis hip-hop star, whose given name was Adolph Robert Thornton Jr., was shot and killed on Nov. 17 while visiting Makeda's Homemade Butter Cookies, a bakery in South Memphis that the rapper was known to frequent. He was 36.

The Shelby County District Attorney General’s Office said Johnson and Smith were each indicted on various counts in connection with the murder of the Memphis rapper, including first-degree premeditated murder, attempted first-degree murder and convicted felon in possession of a firearm, employment of a firearm in the commission of a dangerous felony, as well as property theft of over $10,000.

Dolph's brother, who was with the rapper when he was killed, is the victim in the attempted murder count.

Johnson, who is also known in the Memphis hip-hop scene as rapper Straight Drop, was captured in Indiana on Jan. 11, the U.S. Marshals Service said, after a nearly weeklong manhunt.

A third suspect, Shundale Barnett, 26, who was with Johnson when he was arrested, is awaiting extradition from Indiana, according to the DA’s office. He is faces multiple charges, including accessory after the fact to first-degree murder.

Smith was arrested on Dec. 9 in Southaven on an auto-theft warrant involving the white Mercedes Benz vehicle that was used in the killing of Young Dolph, the U.S. Marshals Service said. The vehicle was taken in a carjacking on Nov. 10 at a gas station and was found on Nov. 20 -- three days after the murder -- behind a home in Orange Mound, where a tipster said it was abandoned.

Smith was extradited from Mississippi to Tennessee last week, according to the DA’s office.

Johnson and Smith are being held without bond in the Shelby County Jail.

Dolph’s label, Paper Route Entertainment, will release a tribute album to the slain rapper titled “Long Life Dolph” on Friday.

Over the past decade, the rapper rose to prominence in the indie hip-hop scene by releasing a series of mixtapes and founded the independent record label in 2010.

Dolph was born in Chicago but grew up in Memphis and released his first studio album, "The King of Memphis," in 2016.

He was injured in a previous shooting in Los Angeles in September 2017.

He had two children, son Tre and daughter Ari, with longtime partner Mia Jaye, who opened up in an exclusive interview with ABC News’ Linsey Davis about the pain her family is going through after the tragic loss.