MEMPHIS, Tenn. — The trial date for two defendants accused in the shooting death of Young Dolph was set by a judge Friday morning.
Judge Lee Coffee set the trial date for Cornelius Smith and Justin Johnson for March 11, 2024.
Johnson, who is charged with first-degree murder, will not face the death penalty. He was permitted to have conversations with two family members and his attorneys.
Young Dolph, whose real name was Adolph Thornton Jr., was gunned down inside Makeda’s Cookies in Memphis on Nov. 17, 2021.
Johnson and Smith were picked up by police in Indiana not long after the shooting. Authorities believe they were the gunmen in the incident.
Johnson has maintained his innocence since his arrest two years ago. However, he will have one last chance to change his plea.
Judge Lee Coffee says both sides will have until Dec. 1 to file any additional motions or come to a resolution.
Johnson’s attorney says at this time, his team is planning to go all the way.
“Mr. Johnson wants to exercise his right to be tried by a jury of his peers.” attorney Luke Evans said.
The state has presented the defense with more than one terabyte of evidence related to the case.
One defendant has already accepted a plea deal in the case. Jermarcus Johnson accepted a plea deal last month and pleaded guilty to three counts of accessory after the fact.
While not confirmed by prosecutors, it is believed that he will testify against his brother Justin.
Justin Johnson would have to serve 51 years in prison before he could be eligible for release, if convicted.