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‘I’ll Hire One For You’: Judge Gives Suspects in Young Dolph Killing an Extra Week to Find Lawyers or Else He Will Find One

The two suspects in the Young Dolph murder case appeared before a judge without representation for the second time. The judge over the case gave them a week’s extension to secure lawyers, adding that if they don’t have attorneys by Feb. 4, he will hire a “private attorney to represent both” men.

According to ABC 24, on Friday, Jan. 28, Justin Johnson, 23, and Cornelius Smith, 32, made their second appearance in Judge Lee Coffee’s court in connection with the multiple charges they are facing in the slaying of Young Dolph. Like the first time they came before the bench, neither had legal representation.

The two men were identified by the Shelby County District Attorney General’s Office and indicted by a grand jury as the shooters of the rising star and have been charged with first-degree premeditated murder, attempted first-degree murder, being a convicted felon in possession of a firearm, employment of a firearm in the commission of a dangerous felony, and theft of property over $10,000.

Young Dolph was murdered on Nov. 17, 2021. Law enforcement believes that surveillance footage shot from an establishment near the Makeda Cookies Bakery on the day of the shooting, identifies Johnson and Smith as the perpetrators of the drive-by killing.

The men were arrested at different times over the last two months.

Smith was detained in DeSoto County, Mississippi, on Dec. 9 after getting nabbed on a theft charge. He was expedited to Memphis.

Johnson, an upstart rapper named Straight Drop was arrested on Jan. 11 in Indiana.

Johnson and his friend Shundale Barnett, 26, were brought in together by U.S. Marshals. Barnett, while not pictured in the footage outside of the bakery, is now charged for allegedly helping Johnson escape.

He has been hit with an accessory after the fact to first-degree murder charge for his role in getting Johnson out of Tennessee and into Indiana, two states north.

Johnson and Smith are currently in the custody of the state. After declining public defenders during their first appearance and having none at their second, it seems that they are wearing thin on the judge’s patience.

Judge Coffee allowed the men an additional week to hire representation. While both parties agreed to hire their lawyers by the extension’s due date of Friday, Feb. 4, the judge said that if all efforts have failed he would step in.

“If you have a lawyer hired, that’s fine, but as I told you 10 days ago, I cannot allow you to sit in jail week after week, month after month, without a lawyer,” Judge Lee Coffee said. “If you don’t have a lawyer hired on February 4th, I’m going to hire a private attorney to represent both of you all.”


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