MEMPHIS, Tenn. (WREG)— Justin Johnson, one of the suspects held in the murder of Memphis rapper Young Dolph last November, asked a judge Friday to be transferred to a different facility.
Johnson’s attorney said his client wants to be transferred out of the pre-trial detention facility at 201 Poplar to the Shelby County Division of Corrections at the Penal Farm in East Memphis.
“He’s had a change of heart due to some ongoing security and safety concerns, as well as conditions of confinement,” Johnson’s attorney Luke Evans said.
Judge Lee Coffee said the transfer would be at the discretion of Sheriff Floyd Bonner, but he would ask the sheriff to accommodate the request.
If granted, Johnson would be held on 23.5-hour lockdown at the facility.
“As his attorney, I want him to be able to be in the most optimal position to aide me in his defense and want him firing on all cylinders,” Evans said.
Coffee also set the next hearing for co-defendant Cornelius Smith to Jan. 20. He told Smith, who has been held nearly a year at this point, that the justice system had been held up by COVID but he hoped to speed up cases so that Smith, if he chose to face trial, would have a trial before the end of next year.
“Everybody is aware that the case has been pending for almost a yea,r and we would like to get this case tried next year at the latest,” said Chief Prosecutor Paul Hagerman.
Another thing officials say has delayed the case from moving forward is the amount of evidence. Hagerman says it is extensive.
“I’d say thousands of pages numerous videos, audio recordings of statements, and things like this. It’s hours and hours for attorneys to go through, it’s not a small case,” Hagerman said.
Justin Johnson and Cornelius Smith were charged with first-degree murder, attempted first-degree murder, being convicted felon in possession of a firearm, employment of a firearm during a dangerous felony, and theft of property over $10,000.
The District Attorney’s Office said the attempted murder charge is related to Young Dolph’s brother, who was also at the scene of the shooting.
Both defendants are currently being held without bond.
Johnson, 23, also known by the rap name Straight Drop, was captured in Indiana on Jan. 11 after the U.S. Marshals announced a $15,000 reward for his capture. He was also listed on TBI’s “Most Wanted” list.
Before Johnson’s capture, Johnson posted on a “Straight Drop” Instagram account that he was turning himself in on Jan. 10, but that never happened. Instead, he posted a new “Straight Drop” music video the next day titled “Track Hawk.
Johnson was extradited back to Memphis from Indiana and appeared in court on Jan. 14 before the judge rescheduled the hearing due to Johnson not having a lawyer.
Another man, Shundale Barnett, is accused of acting as an accessory after the fact in the case. Barnett was in custody in Indiana and was supposed to be extradited to Shelby County, but officials in Indiana said he was released on Jan. 21. He is wanted by the Shelby County Sheriff’s Office.
Young Dolph, whose real name was Adolph Thornton Jr., was killed in a shooting Nov. 17, 2021 at a cookie shop in South Memphis.