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Three men convicted of murder of rapper XXXTentacion

Michael Boatwright, Dedrick Williams and Trayvon Newsome were found guilty of first-degree murder and armed robbery.

XXXTentacion trial
XXXTentacion trial

Three men have been found guilty of the murder of star rapper XXXTentacion, who was shot outside a motorcycle shop in Florida in 2018 while being robbed of 50,000 dollars (£40,750).

Michael Boatwright, 28, Dedrick Williams, 26, and Trayvon Newsome, 24, were all found guilty of first-degree murder and armed robbery.

They will receive mandatory life sentences at a later date.

The defendants showed little emotion as each stood and was handcuffed by a bailiff.

XXXTentacion trial
Michael Boatwright, Dedrick Williams and Trayvon Newsome (Broward County Sheriff’s Office/AP)

During the month-long trial, prosecutors linked the men to the shooting outside Riva Motorsports in suburban Fort Lauderdale through extensive surveillance video taken inside and outside the store, plus phone videos they took that showed them flashing fistfuls of 100-dollar bills hours after the killing.

Prosecutors also had the evidence of a fourth man, Robert Allen, a former friend of the defendants, who said he took part in the robbery.

He pleaded guilty last year to second-degree murder. He has not been sentenced pending the conclusion of this trial.

The defence accused Allen of being a liar motivated by avoiding a life sentence.

They also said prosecutors and detectives did a poor investigation that did not look at other possible suspects, including the Canadian rap star Drake – he and XXXTentacion had an online feud.

Twice this week the jury asked to review text messages from Boatwright, whom prosecutors identified as the gunman, from the day of the shooting.

XXXTentacion trial
Cleopatra Bernard, mother of murdered rapper XXXTentacion, leaves the courtroom after the men were convicted (Carline Jean/South Florida Sun-Sentinel/AP)

A printout from prosecutors shows that from the time he woke up at about 10.30am until 3pm, about an hour before the shooting, he sent 17 to various people, including one about getting a car.

Prosecutors say the vehicle used in the shooting was rented from a woman through a phone app. He then stopped texting for about two hours.

About an hour after the shooting, he sent a text saying, “Tell my brother I got the money for the new phone.”

Minutes after that, he sent someone a screenshot of a news story saying XXXTentacion had been shot.

XXXTentacion, whose real name was Jahseh Onfroy, had just left Riva Motorsports with a friend when his BMW was blocked by a vehicle that swerved in front.

Surveillance video showed two masked gunmen emerging and confronting the 20-year-old singer at the driver’s window, and one shot him repeatedly.

They then grabbed a Louis Vuitton bag containing cash that XXXTentacion had just withdrawn from the bank, got back into the vehicle and sped away. The friend was not harmed.

Newsome was accused of being the other gunman. Williams was accused of being the driver of the vehicle, with Allen also inside.

Allen said the men set out that day to commit robberies and went to the motorcycle shop to buy Williams a mask.

There they spotted the rapper and decided to make him their target.

Allen and Williams went inside the shop to confirm it was him. They then went back to the vehicle they had rented, waited for XXXTentacion to emerge and ambushed him, the court was told.

The rapper, who pronounced his name “Ex ex ex ten-ta-see-YAWN,” was a platinum-selling rising star who tackled issues including prejudice and depression in his songs.

He also drew criticism over bad behaviour and multiple arrests, including charges that he severely beat and abused his girlfriend.

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