Young Dolph Murder Trial Reset to September; Suspect Shot Rapper Outside Cookie Shop in Memphis

On Monday, a judge rescheduled the trial date for a man who is accused of killing rapper Young Dolph in a daytime shooting ambush at a cookie shop in his birthplace of Memphis, Tennessee.

Justin Johnson, 26, was scheduled for trial on September 23 by Shelby County Judge Jennifer J. Mitchell. He has entered a plea of not guilty to first-degree murder in the fatal shooting of Young Dolph, who was shot down in November 2021 at a bakery near his childhood home while purchasing cookies.

Johnson’s trial was scheduled to commence on Monday. Nevertheless, on May 14, prosecutors and Johnson’s attorney submitted a joint motion to the judge, requesting that the trial be postponed in order to enable them to present expert witnesses to discuss cellphone location records.

In February, Mitchell issued a ruling that the trial jury will be selected from outside of Memphis due to the extensive media coverage of the 36-year-old rapper’s murder, which caused a shockwave in Memphis and the entertainment industry.

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Authorities have reported that two individuals exited a stolen Mercedes-Benz and discharged shots at Makeda’s Homemade Cookies before evading the scene. Police released images from surveillance footage that captured the gunfire as they pursued the suspects.

Cornelius Smith Jr. has also entered a plea of not guilty to first-degree murder charges in connection with the incident. Smith has not been assigned a trial date.

Adolph Thornton Jr., also known as Young Dolph, was a rapper, producer, and proprietor of an independent music label. While visiting his birthplace to visit a sick relative and distribute Thanksgiving turkeys, he was fatally shot.

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Young Dolph, who was well-known for his portrayal of the harsh realities of street life and his independent approach to the music industry, was also admired for his charitable endeavors in Memphis. He also provided thousands of dollars to high schools, paid rent, and covered funeral expenses for individuals in the Castalia Heights neighborhood where he was raised, in addition to the Thanksgiving turkey giveaways. After Young Dolph’s passing, a street in the community was named in his honor.

Additionally, two additional individuals have been implicated in the murder.

Hernandez Govan has denied orchestrating the murder. He has not been assigned a trial date. In June 2023, Jermarcus Johnson entered a guilty plea to three counts of assisting Justin Johnson, his half-brother, and Smith after the murder had occurred.

While the two shooting suspects were evading authorities, Jermarcus Johnson acknowledged assisting one of them in communicating with his probation officer via mobile. It is probable that Jermarcus Johnson will not be sentenced until after the trial in the case.

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