April 7, 2020
YNW Melly Claims He's 'Dying' From Coronavirus, Begs To Be Released From Prison

Rapper YNW Melly is asking to be let out of jail while he awaits his trial for double murder. Legal documents filed by the Florida rapper's lawyer, Bradford Cohen, claimed Melly (real name: Jamell Maurice Demons), was at risk of dying from complications related to the novel coronavirus (COVID-19), TMZ reports.

The documents filed by Cohen assert that Demons has been diagnosed with COVID-19, and that it's killing him. Cohen says his client's weight has dropped to 114 pounds, and that Demons is suffering from severe chills, heavy and labored breathing, headaches, and body aches.

What's more, Cohen's filing accuses prison staff of not monitoring the Florida rapper every hour, as per standard protocol. Cohen also claims that Demons' cellmate also has COVID-19, raising concerns that "the virus can be mutated or passed reoccurring between individuals."

ynw melly's mug shot
Wikimedia Commons | Broward County Sheriff's Office

Cohen's court filings go on to claim that the Broward County jail Melly is being held in has not been sufficiently prepared to handle the outbreak of the coronavirus on the inside.

"They have not given them masks, or cleaning supplies that would be beneficial regarding his recovery. This is against all recommendations of the Surgeon General and CDC."

Melly has been in jail since February 2019 and charged with two counts of first-degree murder, following the deaths of aspiring rappers Anthony "YNW Sakchaser" Williams, 21, and Christopher "YNW Juvy" Thomas Jr., 19. The rappers were friends of Melly, who has pled not guilty to the charges per Pitchfork.

As Variety reported at the time, Demons and an accomplice allegedly killed the two men and staged the scene to make it look like a drive-by shooting. Demons' accomplice allegedly drove the victims to the hospital, where they died of their wounds.

Melly has denied the accusations. In an Instagram post at the time, Demons intimated that "the system" was making him a scapegoat for the men's deaths.

"A couple months ago I lost my two brothers by violence and now the system want to find justice," he wrote.

Whether or not a judge will grant Melly's request to be released remains to be seen. But there is precedent for releasing prisoners from incarceration due to the coronavirus pandemic. One California county is releasing most inmates accused of non-violent offenses in order to protect the inmates and jail staff from the emerging pandemic.

As for Melly, his attorney wants him to be allowed to get medical care, at his own expense, and to be placed under house arrest.