A Tennessee man has admitted helping two suspects shoot rapper Young Dolph during a daytime ambush at a Memphis bakery.
Jermarcus Johnson, 26, pleaded guilty in Shelby County Criminal Court in Memphis, Tennessee, to three counts of accessory after the fact to the November 2021 murder of the musical artist, whose real name is Adolph Thornton Jr.
The 36-year-old rapper was buying cookies at Makeda’s Homemade Cookies on Airways Boulevard, near his childhood home in South Memphis, when he was shot dead by two men after pulling up in a stolen white Mercedes Benz.
So far, four people have been charged in connection with the shooting, including Johnson’s half-brother Justin Johnson and his accomplice Cornelius Smith, who are accused of being the gunmen.
Jermarcus Johnson is the only defendant to have pleaded guilty.
Jermarcus Johnson, 26, pleaded guilty on Friday to three counts of aiding and abetting the fact of the musical artist’s murder in November 2021
Young Dolph was buying cookies at his local bakery when he was shot dead by two men in a stolen Mercedes Benz on November 17, 2021
The crime scene – Makeda’s Homemade Cookies in Memphis – was adorned with tributes to Young Dolph from fans and mourners following his death.
During questioning by prosecutor Paul Hagerman on Friday, he admitted taking possession of a car from his half-brother.
The car was not the two-door Mercedes involved in the murder, and Jermarcus Johnson played no role in the shooting but was one of “multiple” actors more widely linked to it, Hagerman said .
He admitted to helping the two armed suspects communicate by mobile phone after the murder as they fled authorities, and to helping one of them communicate with his probation officer.
Johnson also identified a photo in which his half-brother was wearing the same clothes as one of the two alleged gunmen.
Hagerman said after the hearing that dealing with a case with multiple defendants is “a bit like playing chess.”
“You have to prepare your parts,” he said.
Judge Lee Coffee approved a plea deal for Johnson with prosecutors, allowing him to avoid a trial – although he could still testify.
Jermarcus Johnson is the only defendant of four people charged in connection with the death of Young Dolph to plead guilty
Judge Lee V. Coffee showing Jermarcus Johnson the document involving his guilty plea in Shelby County Criminal Court in Memphis, Tennessee
Prosecutor Paul Hagerman said after the hearing that dealing with a case with multiple defendants is “a bit like playing chess”.
Johnson was initially charged with the most serious offense of conspiracy to commit first-degree murder, according to an indictment.
His attorney, Josh Corman, told reporters his client was an unwitting participant who was dragged in after the murder.
“Sometimes it’s one of those lessons of, you have to be careful who you know and who you associate with,” Corman said.
“In this case, it was one of his half-brothers who showed up at his apartment one day and had a phone and a car.”
Meanwhile, accused gunmen Johnson and Smith have pleaded not guilty to first-degree murder charges.
Hernandez Govan, who is charged with organizing the murder, also pleaded not guilty to first degree murder.
Johnson’s half-brother Justin Johnson and his accomplice Cornelius Smith are accused of being the gunmen responsible for the death of Young Dolph
Police cordoned off the scene outside the cookie shop after Young Dolph’s death
Young Dolph was a rising star in the rap world and his murder rocked the entertainment industry
The motive for the murder has not been revealed.
Justin Johnson and Smith are being held in jail, while Govan is under house arrest on $90,000 bond due to concerns for his safety and health.
The incident is not the first time Young Dolph, who was also a producer and label owner, has been targeted by gunmen.
In 2017, he was shot in the buttocks and arms when he was shot outside a shoe store in Hollywood.
Prior to that, the rapper’s SUV had been shot over 100 times in Charlotte, North Carolina, leading to the arrest of rapper Black Youngsta.
The Chicago-born rapper grew up in Memphis and lived there until his death.
Known for his portrayals of tough street life and his independent approach to the music industry, Young Dolph was admired in his hometown for his charitable work.
He organized Thanksgiving food giveaways, donated thousands of dollars to high schools, paid rent and covered funeral expenses for residents of the Castalia Heights neighborhood where he grew up.
Raised by his grandmother, the rapper tried to help his parents ‘clean up their lives’ once he found success
Young Dolph had three albums reaching the top 10 of the Billboard 200, with 2020’s “Rich Slave” peaking at No. 4
Raised by his grandmother, the rapper tried to help his parents “clean up their lives” once he found success.
He has released numerous mixtapes, starting with “Paper Route Campaign” in 2008, and several studio albums, including his debut album “King of Memphis” in 2016.
He has also collaborated on other mixtapes and albums with fellow rappers Key Glock, Megan Thee Stallion, T.I., Gucci Mane, 2 Chainz and others.
He was featured on OT Genasis’ 2015 hit “Cut It” and known for his hit songs “Major” and “On the River.”
Young Dolph has had three albums reaching the top 10 on the Billboard 200, with 2020’s “Rich Slave” peaking at No. 4.
In his music, Young Dolph rapped about being a drug dealer and life on the streets of Memphis.
Crowds gathered at the crime scene – Airways Boulevard in South Memphis – after the death of Young Dolph
City officials and community activists pointed to his killing as a symbol of the dangers of gun violence in Memphis, where more than 300 homicides were reported last year.
Young Dolph’s cousin, Mareno Myers, told local media that the rapper was back in his hometown to visit an aunt with cancer.
Myers said they plan to do charity work and give out turkeys for the upcoming Thanksgiving holiday at a local church.
A private funeral was held for Young Dolph on November 30, and a section of a street in the neighborhood where he grew up was renamed for him on December 15.
He was also honored at a public celebration at FedExForum, home of the NBA’s Memphis Grizzles and the University of Memphis men’s basketball team.
Meanwhile, murals of Young Dolph have been painted throughout the city, and a pop-up museum featuring him was opened earlier this year.
The crime scene, Makeda’s Homemade Cookies, closed for months after the shooting and became an impromptu memorial site for the slain rapper. It has since reopened.