Two men charged with the death of Young Dolph have entered not guilty pleas in a case that has the death penalty on the table.
Dolph, real name Adolph Robert Thornton Jr., was gunned down on November 17, 2021, and the suspects were apprehended within two months.
After being given an ultimatum by a Shelby County judge to hire lawyers, the two Young Dolph murder suspects now have attorneys.
Accused killer Justin Johnson, also known as Straight Dropp, flaunted cash in his music videos but claimed he could not afford a lawyer to represent him in the case and was appointed one.
On the other hand, Cornelius Smith, the other man charged in the Memphis rapper’s shooting death, hired a lawyer, Michael Scholl.
Jeremy Pierre of FOX 13 reports, “Second Young Dolph murder suspect Cornelius Smith did hire on an attorney Michael Scholl. Scholl says he’s been speaking with Smith and his family for a couple of weeks.”
Justin Johnson appointed high-profile attorney
On Monday, Justin Johnson appeared in court for his alleged sex offender registration charge violation and said in court, “he don’t have any money for a lawyer,” Fox13 Memphis reports.
Johnson was appointed Juni Ganguli, who also represented Sherra Wright over the facilitation of the murder of her husband, NBA star Lorenzen Wright.
“I’m going to appoint an attorney for you sir, and if you and your family decide to hire another private lawyer at some other point you may certainly do so and I will remove that lawyer, but I’m going to appoint a private attorney for you sir,” said Judge Lee Coffee per ActionNews5.
Scholl entered a not guilty plea on behalf of Cornelius Smith and Ganguli also entered a not guilty plea on behalf of Johnson.
Prosecutors say they have a motive in the killing of Dolph
Johnson and Smith are accused of pulling up to Madeka’s Cookies in a stolen Mercedes and brazenly opening fire on rapper Young Dolph.
Chief Prosecutor Paul Hagerman, who has been in contact with the Memphis Police Department, says they have a motive but did not reveal it yet in court.
“I’ll say we have a motive and I expect y’all to hear about that at some point,” said Hagerman.
The case also qualifies for the death penalty, but Hagerman has not yet determined whether they will pursue it and explained why.
“There are facts in this case that would make it, the case, eligible for the death penalty… that doesn’t mean that the state’s asking for it; there’s a process we go through, with the family, with my boss,” Hagerman said.