The murder trial of three Florida men accused of killing rapper Jahseh Onfroy, better known as XXXTentacion, during a robbery outside RIVA Motorsports motorcycle shop in 2018, will continue Monday morning after a Broward County jury skipped deliberations on Friday.
On Thursday afternoon, the panel of seven women and five men asked Circuit Judge Michael Usan if they could leave a bit early and take Friday off entirely in order to deal with some personal issues.
“They’re requesting to be dismissed at 4:00 p.m. today,” the judge noted, explaining the first of the two late requests from the jurors. “And the second one says, due to previously scheduled appointments, they’re requesting to not meet tomorrow and instead would like to meet Monday at 10:30.”
At the time their request was made, the jury had deliberated for most of seven days and just over 26 hours in total.
That request was ultimately granted but appeared to elicit a negative reaction from prosecutors. The judge addressed those concerns.
“You know, state, I see a reaction from you,” Usan began.
“But when you had witnesses who had a home closing, you asked that the court be suspended for–” the judge continued before being cut off.
Prosecutor Pascale Achille waived her hands and interjected: “Judge, I didn’t say anything right now. I didn’t say anything.”
“I’m making a record,” Usan said. “I’m making a record like you like to make records. I’m looking at your facial expressions. When you had witnesses who had personal things to do, we recessed the court for a day. On more than one occasion.”
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After briefly criticizing the prosecutor, the judge explained his rationale for granting the jury a 3-day weekend off of their civic duty.
“When we had hundreds of jurors – potential jurors – come in and most of which who said they were in no way interested in being involved in a case that was going to go for more than a couple of weeks, I discussed with the jury that we would give them reasonable time in the morning to drop kids off and make accommodations for them to pick kids up, okay?” Usan reminded the courtroom. “So, I don’t find anything unusual in a case where we’ve asked them to come in, for almost, you know, to clear two months of their schedule, for them not to be able to make previously scheduled doctors appointments or to pick their kids up when they need to do so. So, I don’t have any difficulty granting these requests.”
The judge added that scheduling accommodations were requested by the defendants and that such “concessions” were granted.
“It’s not just the state,” he said, “I think it’s a bit disingenuous now for the parties to grumble about their scheduling. The determination of verdicts is an important matter that cannot and should not be rushed. It helps neither side.”
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Michael Boatwright, 27, Trayvon Newsome, 24, and Dedrick Williams, 26, are all charged with murder in the first degree over the rapper’s June 2018 slaying during a broad daylight robbery in which the defendants, and another man who took a plea deal, allegedly netted $5o,000. Boatwright and Williams are additionally charged with one count each of robbery with a firearm; Newsome is charged with one count of robbery with a deadly weapon.
The jury’s questions and the judge’s decision can be viewed below:
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