Rapper Young Thug files 4th motion for bond as he awaits trial in RICO indictment
The rapper was denied bond three times last year.
As jury selection in Young Thug's trial is expected to enter its fifth month in May, his attorney filed a fourth motion for his client to be released on bond as the rapper faces gang-related charges in a sweeping RICO indictment in Fulton County, Georgia.
Attorney Brian Steel, who represents the Grammy-winning rapper whose legal name is Jeffrey Lamar Williams, told ABC News in a phone interview on Wednesday that his client does not pose a risk and should be released as he awaits trial.
"Mr. Williams is not a risk to commit a crime and he's not a risk to flee the jurisdiction and that's what bond is about," Steel said.
Steel added that his client, who has been present in the courtroom during the months-long jury selection, is "sleep-deprived" because he wakes up at 4 a.m. or 5 a.m. and does not return to the detention center until late, which is interfering with his ability to prepare for this trial.
The Grammy-winning rapper was denied bond three times last year after he was arrested in May 2022 and charged with eight counts.
The rapper was initially charged with one count each of conspiring to violate the state's Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act and participating in criminal street gang activity, and was later charged with an additional count of participating in street gang activity, three counts of violating the Georgia controlled substances act, possession of a firearm while committing a felony and possession of a machine gun.
"This indictment is significant because it targets 28 people who decided to become involved in a criminal street gang and really do havoc in our community," Fulton County District Attorney Fani Willis, whose office is prosecuting this case, said in a May 10, 2022 press conference announcing the indictment.
"That havoc includes crimes of violence, crimes of theft, crimes involving drugs," she added.
Young Thug pleaded not guilty on all eight counts and is set to face trial along with 13 co-defendants.
"Mr. Williams has committed no violation of law, whatsoever. We will fight this case ethically, legally and zealously. Mr. Williams will be cleared," Steel told ABC News on May 10, 2022 after the charges were announced by the Fulton County District Attorney's office.
Young Thug was among 28 individuals named in the indictment who are allegedly associated with the Atlanta-based Young Slime Life (YSL) – a gang that prosecutors allege Young Thug founded in 2012. But YSL, which is also the acronym for "Young Stoner Life" is also the name of the rapper's label - an imprint of 300 Entertainment. The label is not named in the indictment.
The case, which garnered immediate national attention due to the star power of Young Thug, has also spotlighted the controversial use of rap lyrics by prosecutors in court, sparking a movement in the music industry to "Protect Black Art '' and conversations about freedom of expression in hip-hop.
The indictment includes references to lyrics by the rapper and other defendants – an issue that was at the center of a hearing on Wednesday as “Rap on Trial” co-author Erik Nielson testified in a hearing to qualify experts on this issue.
Steel filed a motion in Dec. 2022 asking the judge to stop prosecutors from using the rapper's lyrics as evidence in court, arguing in a motion obtained by ABC News that the prosecutor's use of lyrics in this case is "racist and discriminatory" because it could prejudice a jury against the rapper.
The Fulton County District Attorney's office filed a motion in response, defending the use of lyrics and requested a hearing to address the matter.
According to Steel, the judge said the motion on the use of lyrics could be addressed at a pre-trial hearing in May or June.
Jury selection began on Jan. 4 but so far no jurors have been seated.