Young Thug and Gunna are among 28 people accused of conspiring to break the Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act (RICO).
Young Thug and Gunna will head to trial in January, and more than 300 witnesses are expected to be called to the stand.
According to the The Atlanta Journal-Constitution, the rappers, among 28 people charged in a street gang indictment against their Young Stoner Life, or YSL, record label, are thought to be largely to blame for some of the crime in Atlanta.
Judge Ural Glanville rejected a motion from the prosecution to push the trial back to March and ordered jury selection to start on Jan. 5. He said the fact that most defendants had not been granted bond and had a right to a speedy trial influenced his decision.
“Most of these people have no bonds, that is something that weighs heavily on the court in terms of a start date for this trial,” said Glanville, according to AJC. “They deserve to have a right to go to trial.”
According to Rolling Stone, Young Thug, whose real name is Jeffery Williams, and Gunna, whose real name is Sergio Kitchens, are accused of conspiring to violate the Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act (RICO). The prosecution has cited their song lyrics, music videos and social media posts as evidence in the high-profile case.
AJC reported that attorneys for the rappers had disputed the allegations, claiming in hearings and court documents that YSL is not a violent gang.
According to Rolling Stone, Gunna’s attorneys have made four failed attempts to obtain a bond, arguing that since authorities dropped his name from the 56-count indictment’s updated list of violent acts, he poses no threat to possible witnesses.
Young Thug has been denied bond twice and filed several motions on Thursday, one of which asked for the dismissal of his indictment due to prosecution error. His attorneys contend that Fulton County prosecutors submitted a phony subpoena to Hertz rental service to obtain information about their client.
Prosecutors said the rapper rented a 2014 Infiniti Q50 used in a murder outside an Atlanta barbershop in Jan. 2015. The District Attorney’s Office referred to the claims of a phony subpoena as “inflammatory” and “meritless.”
Young Thug’s defense also wants to have phone-based evidence suppressed. According to his attorneys’ most recent bond motion, the rapper has been “languishing in the County Jail” since his arrest.
AJC reported that given the length of “historical trials of this nature,” Glanville expects the case to last six to nine months.
Prosecutor Adriane Love said at least three defendants are currently without counsel, cases which Glanville said could be severed later.
Glanville instructed the jury clerk to issue enough subpoenas to gather 600 potential jurors. Starting on Jan. 9, prospective jurors will return daily in panels of 24 for the preliminary examinations.
In addition to having at least 300 witnesses ready to testify, at least 20 experts also are expected to take the stand.
The judge also denied motions to hold separate trials for the defendants. The state maintains that all defendants should be tried together.
“Because all 25 defendants currently in custody were alleged to have participated in the same conspiracy — that is: the YSL criminal street gang — they should be tried together,” said District Attorney Fani Willis, AJC reported.
Despite being locked up, the rappers continue to make moves in the music industry. Young Thug and Gunna were nominated for two Grammy Awards this year – best rap performance and best rap song – for their track “pushin’ P.”
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