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Young Thug is being held in “dungeon-like conditions” and deserves release on bond or more humane treatment while fighting his “unconscionable and unconstitutional” RICO indictment, the Atlanta rapper’s lawyer says.
In a new emergency motion filed Friday and obtained by Rolling Stone, lawyer Brian Steel says his client has been placed in “solitary confinement” in a Georgia jail, relegated to a “windowless cement compartment with only a bed and a toilet and an overhead light which remains on 24 hours per day.” He says the musician, born Jeffery Williams, can’t sleep, rest, or mediate due to the disorienting environment and has “no opportunity to exercise, shower or have human contact.”
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“Mr. Williams, an innocent man, who is wholly isolated from the world, must obtain immediate relief,” Steel writes in the motion.
Williams, 30, was arrested Monday on felony charges alleging violations of Georgia’s Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations (RICO) statute. Fulton County prosecutors claim he’s a co-founder of a criminal street gang called Young Slime Life. They allege the group, also known as YSL, conspired to carry out crimes ranging from drug dealing, carjacking and armed robbery to assault with a deadly weapon and murder.
In his Friday motion, Steel blasted the attempt to portray Williams’ lyrics as “overt” evidence he participated in conduct “in furtherance of the conspiracy.” He says Williams was “lawfully exercising his freedom of speech and expression in his profession as a musical artist” when he recorded the songs.
“To weaponize these words by charging overt acts to support a supposed conspiracy is unconscionable and unconstitutional pursuant to the First and Fourteenth Amendment rights under the United States Constitution,” he writes.
Steel particularly disputes the allegation in the indictment claiming Williams bears some responsibility for the Jan. 10, 2015 murder of rival gang member Donovan Thomas Jr. because he rented a 2014 silver Infiniti Q50 sedan allegedly linked to the slaying.
“The indictment alleges that over seven years ago, Mr. Williams rented a vehicle from Hertz Rent-A-Car on a date unknown. and other persons, days later, supposedly used this rented vehicle to commit the crime of murder. There is no allegation by the grand jury that Mr. Williams had knowledge of this crime, had knowledge that this rented vehicle would be used in any supposed crime or that Mr. Williams was a party to this supposed crime,” he argues.
A spokesman for the Fulton County District Attorney did not immediately respond to a request for comment from Rolling Stone on Friday.
If convicted of a RICO charge, Williams could face up to 20 years in prison and a fine of $250,000.
Gunna’s lawyers filed a similar bond motion this week seeking to spring the “Drip Too Hard” hitmaker from custody.
“It is intensely problematic that the state relies on song lyrics as part of its allegations. These lyrics are an artist’s creative expression and not a literal recounting of facts and circumstances. Under the state’s theory, any artist with a song referencing violence could find herself the victim of a RICO indictment,” the motion reads.
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