Rapper YNW Melly’s retrial is once again being pushed back after prosecutors asked for additional time to prepare for the double murder case.
Broward Circuit Court Judge John Murphy granted prosecutors’ request, giving the state three extra weeks. Opening arguments are expected to begin Feb. 5, instead of the originally rescheduled date in January.
In a filing, prosecutors Alixandra Buckelew, Taylor Collins and Justin Griffis cited recent developments in the case, including the removal of lead prosecutor Kristine Bradley and new witness tampering charges against Melly.
Buckelew, who was on the team that tried the three men convicted of rapper XXXTentacion, was assigned to Melly’s case in October, days after Bradley being ousted from the case. While Murphy didn’t find that Bradley’s “integrity and veracity” as a prosecutor have been compromised, he said in a court filing that he granted the defense’s motion to recuse her in an abundance of caution. Defense attorneys have repeatedly said they plan to call Bradley as a witness in the retrial.
The prosecutor’s removal is tied to a 2022 incident on the seventh floor of the Broward courthouse allegedly involving Miramar Police Detective Mark Moretti. Public Corruptions Unit Prosecutor Michelle Boutros, who previously testified about the incident, was present when Moretti was taking a statement from Jamie King, Melly’s mother. King’s attorney Robert Trachman and Broward Sheriff’s Office Sgt. Jason Hendrick were also there at the time.
At some point, Hendrick stepped out, and Moretti executed a search warrant for King’s phone. Shortly after, BSO Deputy Adam Gorel arrived at the conference room. When King and Trachman left, Moretti told Gorel that he should say he was present when Moretti executed the search warrant, Boutros said on the stand.
Accounts of what Moretti said — or didn’t say — differ among the parties in the case. According to a filing by Bradley, Moretti asked Gorel whether he was there when the phone was taken, and Gorel said something along the lines of: “I can be if you needed me to be.” Boutros, on the stand, declared that Gorel didn’t say that.
The detective, according to prosecutor Griffis, isn’t under investigation by any agency for alleged misconduct. In a September memo, Internal Affairs Sgt. Brittany Parker closed a complaint made by King against Moretti, also writing that Boutros’ claims about the detective contradicted Gorel’s sworn statement.
What else is going on?
On Friday, the rapper’s legal team is set to sit Moretti through another deposition, or a sworn interview with a witness conducted before a trial. Under Florida law, witnesses can’t be deposed more than once unless the state and defense agree — or a judge rules to allow the second interview.
The case is continuing with jury selection despite the dismissal of the first panel of prospective jurors last week. The second panel will return to be questioned in December, as prosecutors and defense attorneys work to create a new one . There are also dozens of pending motions, the bulk of which were drafted by the defense, on which the judge has yet to rule.