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Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883

Jury convicts 3 men of murder in death of rapper XXXTentacion

By Anumita Kaur Washington Post

After eight days of deliberations, a South Florida jury on Monday convicted three men of first-degree murder in the killing of rapper XXXTentacion.

The 20-year-old rapper, whose real name was Jahseh Dwayne Onfroy, died after being robbed and shot outside a motorcycle dealership in Deerfield Beach, Fla., on June 18, 2018, authorities said. Two armed men confronted Onfroy on the Monday afternoon, one man shot him repeatedly, before both assailants took his cash and fled in an SUV.

Michael Boatwright, 28, Dedrick Williams, 26, and Trayvon Newsome, 24, were all found guilty in Onfroy’s murder, and convicted of armed robbery as well.

The three men appeared calm as Broward County Circuit Judge Michael Usan read the verdict aloud. The judge set their sentencing for April 6. They are expected to receive a life sentence, which Florida law mandates for first-degree murder convictions.

The trial began early February, and prosecutors linked Boatwright, Williams and Newsome to the robbery and shooting through surveillance footage and cellphone videos, Associated Press reported. A fourth man, 25-year-old Robert Allen, who previously pleaded guilty to second-degree murder in the incident, also provided testimony in support of the prosecution’s case. The defense tried to cast doubt on Allen’s testimony, arguing that he was a liar motivated to avoid a life sentence, and said that detectives failed to investigate rap star Drake, with whom Onfroy had an ongoing online feud, Associated Press reported. The defense also pointed to a lack of DNA evidence in the case.

Boatwright was identified as the primary shooter, Newsome was accused of being the other gunman, Williams was accused of being the driver of the SUV and Allen was inside the vehicle, according to the Associated Press.

Onfroy was raised in Broward County, Fla. His burgeoning career as a rapper was riddled with controversy before it was cut short.

He uploaded the song “Vice City” to SoundCloud in 2014, eventually amassing 2 million followers. By 2017, hip-hop magazine XXL featured XXXTentacion on the cover of its “Freshman Class” issue, which highlights rising talent in the industry. Mainstream rap stars like A$AP Rocky praised him, and his second studio record “?” topped Billboard’s 200 album chart in 2018, The Washington Post reported.

But he carried a slew of gruesome accusations. His ex-girlfriend accused him of extensive abuse, and he was charged with domestic battery by strangulation, false imprisonment and aggravated battery of a pregnant woman, The Post reported. He denied the domestic abuse allegations, but continued racking up various other criminal charges, and bounced between jail and house arrest. Spotify briefly removed his music from the platform’s curated playlists, pointing to policies around hateful conduct.

XXXTentacion’s brief career, and the shockwaves that followed his sudden death, ignited debate throughout the industry on whether to engage with artists associated with heinous acts.