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Prosecutors could seek death penalty in Young Dolph murder case

Cornelius Smith and Justin Johnson arrested in Young Dolph's murder
Cornelius Smith and Justin Johnson arrested in Young Dolph's murder(Action News 5/SCSO/TBI)
Published: Jan. 19, 2022 at 9:22 AM CST|Updated: Jan. 19, 2022 at 10:54 AM CST
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MEMPHIS, Tenn. (WMC) - The men accused of killing Young Dolph at a Memphis bakery went before a judge Wednesday morning for the first time on the murder charge.

Justin Johnson and Cornelius Smith were set to appear in court Tuesday but the arraignment was rescheduled due to unknown reasons.

Both suspects were without attorneys Wednesday requesting the judge give them another week to hire someone.

Smith,32, and Johnson, 23, face several charges including:

  • First-degree murder
  • Attempted first-degree murder (for shooting at Young Dolph’s brother who was with the rapper when he was killed)
  • Being a felon in possession of a firearm
  • Employment of a firearm during a dangerous felony
  • Theft over $10,000

The judge says, if convicted, the murder charge alone would allow the state of Tennessee to file a notice to seek the death penalty or face life in prison without the possibility of parole.

Johnson faces several charges from previous offenses including ones for violating terms of a prior aggravated rape conviction in 2015.

RELATED | Affidavits: Suspect in rapper Young Dolph’s murder has history of violence and crime

Smith was previously convicted of attempted aggravated robbery in 2011.

Prosecutor Paul Hagerman with the Shelby County District Attorney’s Office says both of the suspects are still being held without bond.

When asked if there would be any additional arrests in the case, he said the investigation is ongoing.

Officials have not released details on a motive at this time.

The next hearing is scheduled for Friday, Jan. 28.

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