MEMPHIS, Tenn. — Two suspects in the murder of Memphis rapper Young Dolph appeared before a judge in a Memphis court for the first time on these charges on Wednesday.
Justin Johnson and Cornelius Smith have been indicted and were arraigned Wednesday morning. Video of their appearance can be seen in the player at the top of this story.
The hearing was originally scheduled for Tuesday, but was postponed as the case was transferred to a new judge.
Both men said they need about a week to hire an attorney. They say they can afford their own attorney and don’t need the judge to appoint them one. The judge is having them come back Jan. 28 to see if they’ve hired an attorney by then.
“This judge wants to make sure these defendants have an attorney sooner rather than later,” Chief Prosecutor Paul Hagerman said after the arraignment hearing. “Memphis wants some closure to this thing, and family and media, too.”
Johnson, also known as the rapper Straight Drop, and Smith has been charged with first-degree murder, attempted first-degree murder, being convicted felon in possession of a firearm, employment of a firearm during a dangerous felony, and theft of property over $10,000.
“We wouldn’t be here without strong evidence against them,” Hagerman said. “We’re confident and ya’ll saw the video from November 17th when the two people shot and murdered Dolph, we got the two people in court today.”
The District Attorney’s Office said the attempted murder charge is related to Young Dolph’s brother, who was also at the scene of the shooting.
Both defendants are being held without bond.
“I know what he meant to Memphis and what he symbolized with regard to being a self-made person and the grit and grind of Memphis and we need to get some justice in this case,” Hagerman said.
Johnson, 23, also known by the rap name Straight Drop, was captured in Indiana on Jan. 11 after the U.S. Marshals announced a $15,000 reward for his capture. He was also listed on TBI’s “Most Wanted” list.
Before Johnson’s capture, Johnson posted on a “Straight Drop” Instagram account that he was turning himself in on Jan. 10, but that never happened. Instead, he posted a new “Straight Drop” music video the next day titled “Track Hawk.
Johnson was extradited back to Memphis from Indiana and appeared in court on Jan. 14 before the judge rescheduled the hearing due to Johnson not having a lawyer.
A third suspect accused as an accessory after the fact, Shundale Barnett, is still in custody in Indiana.
The DA’s Office says Barnett is still in Indiana for security reasons. There’s no word on when he’ll be brought back to Shelby County to face charges.
Young Dolph, whose real name was Adolph Thornton Jr., was killed in a shooting Nov. 17 at a cookie shop in South Memphis.