Young Dolph’s alleged killers face a dilemma in the early stages of their trial.
According to Fox 13 Memphis, a judge informed 32-year-old Cornelius Smith and 23-year-old Justin Johnson, the latter known as Straight Drop, they would have to have a lawyer by February 4. Otherwise, they would have a court-appointed one.
Young Dolph accused killers Justin Johnson and Cornelius Smith requested the judge give them one more week to allow their families to finalize arrangements on hiring lawyers to represent them. Judge Coffee set Next Friday as the HARD deadline or they will be appointed public def pic.twitter.com/CYynm8kU2t
— Jeremy Pierre FOX13 (@JeremypierreFOX) January 28, 2022
The announcement came on Friday (January 28) as the two appeared inside a judge’s courtroom after he initially gave them nine days to procure a lawyer. The pair initially declined to have a public defender during their first court appearance.
Johnson and Smith were indicted on charges of first-degree premeditated murder, attempted first-degree murder, 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, according to the Shelby County District Attorney’s Office. A third suspect, 27-year-old Shaundale Barnett, was arrested and charged with being an after-the-fact accessory in connection with the killing on January 12.
The two men allegedly pulled up to Makeda’s Cookies in a white Mercedes and opened fire into the storefront, killing Dolph. Following a public memorial service at the FedEx Forum in December, Dolph’s Paper Route Empire released a tribute album, Long Live Young Dolph, on January 21.
Johnson had prior charges before he allegedly shot and killed the Memphis rap star. In 2015, he was charged with aggravated rape and robbery when he was only 17. He had been placed on the violent juvenile sex offender registry list at age 19 and was arraigned last week on the charges.
Johnson previously spent time behind bars for nine months in 2017 following a triple shooting at a bowling alley and drug and handgun charges in May 2018.