XXXTentacion Murder Trial, Week 5: In the Jury's Hands

Defendants Dedrick Williams (left), Trayvon Newsome (third from left), and Michael Boatwright (red jacket) await the jury's verdict.
Defendants Dedrick Williams (left), Trayvon Newsome (third from left), and Michael Boatwright (red jacket) await the jury's verdict. Law&Crime Network screenshot via YouTube
Update 7 p.m. Monday, 3/13/23: On its third day of deliberations, the jury in the XXXTentacion murder trial requested to go through all of the data downloaded from two iPhones that belonged to defendants Michael Boatwright and Dedrick Williams covering June 17 and June 18, 2018. After more than two hours spent examining the text messages, photos, and videos, which were displayed on a large screen in the courtroom, jurors recessed until tomorrow (Tuesday, March 14) morning.

Update 6:50 p.m. Friday, 3/10/23: The jury in the XXXTentacion murder trial ended its second day of deliberations without reaching a verdict. Jurors recessed until Monday, March 13.

Update 4:50 p.m.:
 The first day of jury deliberations in the XXXTentacion murder trial ended with no verdict. Jurors will reconvene at 11 a.m. tomorrow (Friday, March 10).

Taken as a whole, the forensic evidence and witness testimony pointing to Michael Boatwright, Trayvon Newsome, and Dedrick Williams as the crew that ambushed and killed South Florida rapper XXXTentacion (real name Jahseh Onfroy) nearly six years ago appears damning.

Defense lawyers representing the trio of defendants are banking that a Broward County jury could puncture some hazy aspects of state prosecutors' seemingly airtight case and find their clients not guilty of murdering XXXTentacion.

The 20-year-old hip-hop artist died on June 18, 2018, hours after he was shot three times by one of two masked armed robbers while leaving Reva Motorsports, a recreational vehicle shop in Deerfield Beach. The gunmen jumped out of the passenger's side of a Dodge Journey SUV that had blocked XXXTentacion's BMW i8 sports car as he pulled out of the Reva parking lot. The robbers took off with the rapper's Louis Vuitton satchel stuffed with $50,000 in hundred-dollar bills.

Today (March 9), the jury will begin deliberating the fates of Boatwright, Newsome, and Williams, each of whom faces a life sentence if convicted of first-degree murder. Robert  Allen, a fourth robber, testified against his former friends as a condition of his guilty plea last summer. He fingered Williams as the getaway driver, Boatwright as the shooter, and Newsome as the second gunman.

After a day off on Monday, March 6, jurors sat through two days of dramatic closing arguments by Broward Assistant State Attorney Pascale Achille and criminal defense attorneys Joseph Kimok, George Reres, and Mauricio Padilla.

On Tuesday, Achille stopped midway through her summation. She remained silent for eight minutes and 35 seconds to demonstrate how long Allen, Boatwright, Newsome, and Williams sat outside Reva waiting for XXXTentacion to exit the store after confirming that he'd been inside shopping for a motorbike.

"During that time, Mr. Onfroy is inside Reva," Achille said when a timer on her laptop finished counting down. "He doesn't have a clue that any of this is about to happen — that he has only eight minutes and 35 seconds left to live."
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Michael Boatwright, Dedrick Williams, and Trayvon Newsome are on trial for the 2018 murder of XXXTentacion.
Broward Sheriff's Office mug shots
Armed and on a mission to rob people that day, the quartet made the premeditated decision to kill XXXTentacion if he showed any resistance, Achille said.

"They planned and coordinated an attack on the victim," Achille told the jury. "Inside the Dodge Journey, they had everything they needed to rob and kill the victim. There were masks. There were firearms. They were ready to go."

Near the end of his closing argument, Padilla, Williams' lawyer, unveiled a clean white box with a red ribbon and bow to underscore how John Curcio, the homicide detective for Broward County Sheriff's Office who led the murder probe, had neatly wrapped a rushed investigation that failed to carefully rule out other possible suspects and persons of interest, including Canadian rapper Drake, with whom XXXTentacion allegedly was feuding.

"This nice and neat solution makes its way to the Broward State Attorney's Office," Padilla said. "[Achille] wants you to accept something that is perfect — and it is not like that."

Then Padilla removed the box to reveal a smaller, tattered white box with a torn red ribbon. "That is what a case looks like when it is based on lies, based on perjured testimony, [and] when detectives fail to follow up on leads."

Padilla also mocked some of the prosecution's witnesses, including Scott Barbieux, an XXXTentacion superfan who was visiting Reva and witnessed the shooting. Barbieux admitted to having snapped photos of the dying rapper and uploading one of the images to his Snapchat account.

Padilla zeroed in on Barbieux's goth appearance, commenting that the witness looked like he'd stepped out of the pages of the best-selling Anne Rice novel Interview with a Vampire. The lawyer also suggested that Barbieux was inebriated when he took the stand. "I asked him if he was sober," Padilla said. "He didn't look like it to me."

Reres, Newsome's lawyer, and Kimok, Boatwright's attorney, argued that the physical evidence proved their clients were not at the crime scene when the robbery and homicide occurred. For instance, they both homed in on a necklace XXXTentacion wore on June 18, 2018, that didn't contain DNA linked to either defendant.

"You couldn't find a better object to get DNA on because it is going to scrape right off," Reres said. "The absence of DNA on that necklace is crucial for the defense."

Kimok claimed that forensic investigators found DNA from two individuals on XXXTentacion's fingernails and neck. One of them was the rapper, and the other was from an unknown person, Kimok said. "Someone else left that DNA," Kimok added.

Kimok, Padilla, and Reres also took turns assailing Robert Allen's credibility. Reres reminded the jury that Allen admitted under oath to committing fraud and has 12 prior felony convictions. "What is fraud?" Reres asked rhetorically. "It's a systematic pattern of lying to take advantage of people and steal things from them."

After the defense lawyers wrapped up their concluding statements, it was Achille's turn for one final rebuttal. She took the opportunity to note that the defense avoided talking about the digital trail from two iPhones that allegedly belonged to Williams and Boatwright, which indicated that the devices were at Reva the entire time XXXTentacion was there, including during the shooting.

Achille acknowledged that Allen is a snitch hoping for a lenient sentence in exchange for his testimony.

"Plans hatched in Hell do not have angels for witnesses," she said. "I didn't try to dress him up as an angel. Quite the opposite. He was dressed in custody. He came in [wearing] shackles."

But she reminded jurors that Allen's testimony backs up the physical evidence presented during the trial. "There is so much evidence besides Robert Allen that you can rely on that is credible," the prosecutor said. "You can use the evidence you have seen in this case to fact-check him."

The jury commences deliberations at 10:30 a.m. today (Thursday, March 9).
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Francisco Alvarado was born in Nicaragua and grew up in Miami, giving him unique insight into the Magic City and all its dark corners. An investigative reporter with a knack for uncovering corruption, Alvarado made his bones as a staff writer at Miami New Times and remains in dogged pursuit of the next juicy story.

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