It's been 1,628 days since police say YNW Melly shot and killed two of his friends in October of 2018. Following years of delays, the South Florida rapper is finally set to stand trial for double capital homicide.

YNW Melly was one of the most buzzing rap artists in the game at the start of 2019, with a viral hit, "Murder on My Mind," a cosign from Kanye West and a quickly expanding fanbase. That came crashing down when he was arrested on Feb. 13, 2019 and charged with the shooting deaths of his friends and fellow group members YNW Juvy (Chris Thomas, 20) and YNW Sakchaser (Anthony Williams, 21). The arrest came following a five-month investigation into the murders.

On the night of the killings, Oct. 26, 2018, Williams and Thomas were dropped off at the Memorial Hospital in Miramar, Fla. about 4:35 a.m. by YNW Bortlen (Cortlen Henry). Both men were suffering from multiple gunshot wounds and were already deceased. Bortlen claimed the two men were victims of a drive-by shooting by unknown assailants. Police eventually surmised Melly was the shooter and arrested him and Bortlen. Bortlen was apprehended in Houston and extradited back to Florida to face charges of murder and accessory to murder.

"Jamell Demons, a.k.a. YNW Melly & Cortlen Henry have been arrested and charged with two counts of first-degree murder," the Miramar Police Department said in a statement at the time of the arrests. "The victims, Anthony Williams & Christopher Thomas Jr., were killed on 10/26/2018. The investigation, supported by forensic evidence, has concluded that Demons shot and killed Williams & Thomas Jr. and that Demons and Henry staged the crime scene to resemble a drive-by shooting."

YNW Melly was denied bond. He maintained his innocence in the case, claiming he was falsely accused.

"To all my fans and supporters no I did not get locked up in Washington , but I am turning myself in today I want you guys to know I love you and appreciate every single one of y’all, a couple months ago I lost my two brothers by violence and now the system want to find justice," Melly wrote on Instagram. "[Unfortunately] a lot of rumors and lies are being said but no worries god is with me and my brother @ynw.bortlen and we want y’all to remember it’s a ynw Family I love you @ynwsakchaser1 and @ynwjuvy #freeus."

In February of 2019, new details about the case emerged to the public, which concluded that Thomas and Williams were shot from inside the car and not from the outside, as Bortlen claimed. Authorities say that a single ".40 caliber shell casing was found inside of the vehicle on the floorboard of the left rear passenger side," which was where then 19-year-old Melly was allegedly sitting at the time of the shooting. The investigation surmises that Bortlen and Melly later shot at the car from the outside to try and stage the drive-by shooting story and drove around with the bodies for hours before finally going to the hospital.

In March of 2019, Melly pleaded not guilty. He is denying he was present during the shooting and has no motive to shoot his friends. The prosecution, however, claims the killing may have been due to an argument over money and YNW Sakchaser allegedly threatening Melly's mother Jamie King. In April of 2019, prosecutors announced they would be seeking the death penalty, which was supported by the family of the victims.  That November, prosecutors released crime scene photos from the case that reportedly supported their claim that the victims were shot from inside the vehicle.

YNW Melly Crime Scene
YNW Melly Crime Scene

In the past three years, the case has been moving at a snail's pace as both sides prepare for a lengthy trial and argue over evidence. Fredo Bang, who reportedly had contact with Melly on the night of the murders has refused to answer questions about the case. The death penalty was dropped in July of 2022 only to be proposed again in November of that year. Melly has also been accused of planning an escape from jail and having pipe bombs, which his attorney Raven Liberty denies.

A trial officially begins with jury selection, which started in the Melly case on Monday (April 10). It is expected to take weeks to select an impartial jury for the popular rapper's case. Judge John J. Murphy III is presiding over the trial.

On Monday night, Melly's mother celebrated the start of the trial on Instagram.

"Official update on YNW Melly we started jury selection today and will continue over the next 2 weeks," she wrote. "Trial will start June 5, 2023. No more delays. #freemelly2023."

"Melly coming home," she captioned the post. "Today I went to court expecting more delays but we started jury selection. I can’t explain how I feel my anxiety is everywhere but God got us."

Broward State Attorney’s Office confirmed that opening statements and testimony in YNW Melly's trial are scheduled for June and July.

XXL has reached out to YNW Melly's attorney for comment.

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