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Young Dolph’s murder suspects make their first court appearance

Young Dolph performing in a music video
Young Dolph was tragically killed in November 2021 leaving behind two young children. Pic credit: Young Dolph/YouTube

Young Dolph’s accused killers Justin Johnson and Cornelius Smith appeared in court for the first time on Wednesday.

The pair have been indicted and arraigned in Shelby County Criminal Court on charges related to the death of the rapper, whose real name was Adolph Thornton Jr. 

Smith and Johnson, also known as Straight Dropp, have been charged with first-degree murder, attempted first-degree murder, being a convicted felon in possession of a firearm, employment of a firearm during a dangerous felony, and theft of property over $10,000.

As previously reported, the District Attorney’s Office said the attempted murder charge is related to Young Dolph’s brother, who was also at the shooting scene.

During their appearance in court, the judge asked whether they had legal representation.

Both men said they needed another week to hire an attorney. In addition, Smith and Johnson said they can afford their own attorney and do not need a public defender.

Judge Lee V. Coffee agreed to them returning to court on January 28 to show they have their own attorneys; otherwise, public defenders will be appointed.

Prosecutor Paul Hagerman added, “This judge wants to make sure these defendants have an attorney sooner rather than later. Memphis wants some closure to this thing, and family and media, too.”

Smith and Johnson ‘s criminal history in spotlight

The criminal history of rap legend Young Dolph’s accused killers has come under the spotlight.

According to the Shelby Country District Attorney’s office via ABC 24, Cornelius Smith was convicted in 2011 of attempted aggravated robbery and was sentenced to three years in prison.

In 2018, he was charged with aggravated kidnapping in a domestic violence case, but a grand jury declined to indict him.

Meanwhile, Johnson faces one count of violating a supervised release on a 2019 federal gun conviction.

After his arrest, he was also found to have allegedly violated the Violent Juvenile Sex Offender Registry for an aggravated rape and aggravated robbery case from when he was age 17.

At the time, he was placed in state custody for the charge before bonding out before his 19th birthday.

Yo Gotti and Blac Youngsta’s lawyer denies representing Dolph’s accused killers

An attorney who previously represented Blac Youngsta and Yo Gotti denied reports that he was retained to represent Dolph’s accused killers.

Attorney Art Horne hit back at the rumors in a statement, writing, “After reading a few recent articles and receiving numerous phone calls and text messages from friends and colleagues, it has come to my attention that my name and law firm have been associated with an individual who was recently arrested for the murder of Adolph Thornton Jr., also known as Young Dolph.”

“At this time, I would like to dispel any rumors and/or misinformation that relates to my representation involving anyone charged in the murder of Adolph Thornton Jr. At no time have I now, or ever, been retained to represent any of the individuals arrested for the murder of Young Dolph.”

His law office represented Memphis rapper Blac Youngsta after he faced charges related to a 2017 shooting involving a reported 100 shots being fired at Dolph’s bullet-proof vehicle.

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