XXXTentacion Murder Trial, Weeks 3 & 4: Jury Deliberations to Begin

A digital forensics expert for the Broward Sheriff's Office placed Michael Boatwright and Dedrick Williams at the scene of the crime.
A digital forensics expert for the Broward Sheriff's Office placed Michael Boatwright and Dedrick Williams at the scene of the crime. BSO PowerPoint screenshot via Law&Crime Network/YouTube
Mining data downloaded from an iPhone 7 Plus, James KempVanEe found a thumbnail of a screenshot of a June 18, 2018, WSVN news story about South Florida rapper XXXTentacion getting shot earlier that day.

KempVanEe, the civilian head of the Broward County Sheriff's digital forensics office, discovered the tiny image in a mail folder but could not find the original photo — an indication that the image likely had been deleted, he told jurors in a Fort Lauderdale courtroom on March 2.

According to Broward County prosecutors, the smartphone belonged to Michael Boatwright, the man accused of fatally shooting XXXTentacion (real name Jahseh Onfroy) nearly six years ago in a robbery that netted $50,000 in cash. The iPhone data also included a video clip of Boatwright fanning out crisp $100 bills filmed hours after the murder.

Boatwright and his two alleged accomplices, Trayvon Newsome and Dedrick Williams, are on trial for the murder of the 20-year-old hip-hop artist. They allegedly targeted XXXTentaction as the rapper left Reva Motorsports, a Deerfield Beach motorbike shop, on June 18, 2018.

A Dodge Journey SUV blocked X's BMW i8 sports car as he exited Reva's parking lot. Two armed men wearing masks jumped out of the SUV, demanding a Louis Vuitton bag with the money. One of them shot XXXTentacion three times in the left neck and shoulder area, mortally wounding him, according to the Broward County medical examiner.

The thumbnail image and video are among the digital crumbs that corroborate testimony from the state's star witness, Robert Allen, a fourth alleged accomplice who has admitted participating in the carjacking and who was charged with capital homicide. Last summer, Allen pleaded guilty and agreed to testify against his former cohorts.

During the trial's first week last month, Allen recounted his involvement in staking out XXXTentacion inside Reva on the day of the murder and fingered Boatwright as the shooter, Newsome as the robber who snatched the Louis Vuitton bag, and Williams as the getaway driver.

KempVanEe was the last witness for the prosecution. Defense attorneys for the three men on trial rested their cases on Friday, March 3. Closing arguments are set to begin on Tuesday, March 7, and wrap up by the close of the following day's proceedings.

Phone Data Lines Up With Surveillance Video Evidence

A daring defense strategy by Williams' lawyer Mauricio Padilla to implicate dozens of rappers — including Canadian megastar Drake and the two surviving members of the rap group Migos — fizzled by the trial's midpoint.

Broward Judge Michael Usan, who is presiding over the case, quashed several attempts by Padilla to compel Drake to testify, most recently on February 24.

"You are now trying to just drag somebody in who's a celebrity who does not want to be associated with this," Usan admonished Padilla.

Defense attorneys for Boatwright and Newsome implemented more conventional defense methods, such as trying to suppress some of the prosecution's evidence. For instance, Boatwright's lawyer Joseph Kimok sought to exclude the data mined from his client's iPhone and another iPhone belonging to Williams.

"We have not had the opportunity to check his work to see if it matches up correctly," Kimok stated on March 2 before jurors heard from VanKampEe. "This individual, prior to trial, said, 'I haven't done any work except to download them.' Now we are being told that he clearly has done an extraordinary amount of work."

Kimok contended that Boatwright's right to due process was being violated. But Usan denied Kimok's motion. "The witness was previously disclosed, and what he is going to talk about was disclosed," Usan said. "There is no surprise. There is no ambush."

Once on the stand, VanKampEe presented PowerPoint slides showing maps and images that corresponded with geolocation data on Boatwright's and Williams' iPhones on June 18, 2018, before, during, and after the robbery and shooting.

"Mr. Boatwright's phone shows up at Mr. Williams' location at 1:18 p.m. It leaves at 3:24 p.m. That is the same time Mr. Williams' phone leaves."

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"So with Mr. Williams' phone, you can see it was at his residence from 3:15 a.m. to 3:24 p.m.," VanKampEe testified. "Mr. Boatwright's phone shows up at Mr. Williams' location at 1:18 p.m. It leaves at 3:24 p.m. That is the same time Mr. Williams' phone leaves."

Both phones appeared at Reva at 3:30 p.m. and 3:32 p.m. VanKampEe presented a slide juxtaposing Boatwright's geolocated phone at Reva at 3:56 p.m. against a still image from a Reva surveillance camera that showed a tall, masked man pointing a rifle at the driver's side of XXXTentacion's BMW. The timestamp: 3:56 p.m.

The sheriff's office expert also explained how Boatwright's phone connected to the Dodge Journey's Bluetooth six times on the date of the slaying, including a timeframe from 3:25 p.m. to 4:28 p.m.

Other Key Evidence

Over the past two weeks, the jury also heard from the lead homicide investigators and other forensic sleuths from the Broward Sheriff's Office who provided meticulous accounts of the evidence they gathered that implicates Boatwright, Newsome, and Williams.

Det. John Curcio, who headed the investigation, recounted how he and his colleagues zeroed in on Williams, who, along with Allen, entered Reva to confirm XXXTentacion's identity minutes before attacking the rapper. Surveillance video from inside the shop shows Williams wearing a distinctive pair of bright orange Adidas sandals. Curcio narrowed his search when he tracked down a photo on the accused murderer's Instagram account that showed him wearing the same sandals.
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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
Two days after the murder, Curcio testified, he obtained an arrest warrant for Williams and a warrant to search the suspect's home and car in Pompano Beach. According to Curcio, Williams twice changed his story after initially denying he'd been at Reva.

When informed that Reva's surveillance footage showed he wasn't telling the truth, Williams admitted to having been in the Dodge with three other individuals and that two of those men robbed and shot XXXTentacion, Curcio testified.

"It bothered him so much he could not sleep the night of the murder," the detective added. "He was concerned if he went to prison, he would be labeled a snitch. He terminated the interview shortly thereafter."

Curcio also testified about finding videos on Willliams' phone that show him smiling and flashing $100 bills inside his house hours after the robbery.

Boatwright lived with his grandmother, and Curcio obtained a warrant to search her home, he told the jury. Detectives found two masks in the trunk of a Cadillac in the grandmother's carport.

Nicole Ihnat, a forensic analyst with the Broward Sheriff's Office, testified that DNA found in the masks matched that of Boatwright and Williams.
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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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