Memphis Awaits Justice as Trial Rescheduled in High-Profile Rapper Murder Case


In the heart of Memphis, Tennessee, amid the busy hum of daily life, significant developments unfolded on Monday in a high-profile murder case. In a city known as much for its rhythm and blues as its deep barbeque roots, the killing of rapper Young Dolph had shaken the community to its core and made headlines that transcended the state borders.

Young Dolph, a moniker adopted by Adolph Thornton Jr., was not just known for his verbal agility, but for his immense respect for his community. Admired for his charitable works in Memphis, Dolph’s character was underscored by his selfless acts of providing Thanksgiving turkeys to the needy, donating thousands to local high schools, and covering expenses as significant as rent and funeral costs for the residents of Castalia Heights, a neighborhood that cradled him in his youth.

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Presiding over this case, Shelby County Judge Jennifer J. Mitchell deftly moved the pieces on the judicial chessboard, rescheduling the trial for Sept. 23. The suspect at the heart of this case was 26-year-old Justin Johnson, whose not guilty plea echoed in the hallowed halls of the court, as he faces first-degree murder charges.

The initial trial, originally slated to commence Monday, was delayed as lawyers from both sides — the prosecution and defense — filed a joint motion on May 14. The aim was to secure time for expert witnesses to thoroughly analyze cellphone location records integral to the case.

Judge Mitchell had ruled earlier in February that the trial would assemble a jury from beyond the confines of Memphis due to the intense media circus that descended surrounding the slaying of Young Dolph, a tragedy that left a void in both Memphis and the entertainment world.

According to the authorities, two men had exited a stolen Mercedes-Benz and unleashed a hailstorm of bullets into Makeda’s Homemade Cookies. Surveillance footage that captured the brutal act was disseminated by the police during their manhunt.

Complicating the narrative are multiple actors charged in this disquieting drama. Alongside Justin Johnson, Cornelius Smith Jr. also professes his innocence to charges of first-degree murder. Hernandez Govan, another accused, maintains his innocence to charges alleging orchestration of the slaying.

Then there’s Jermarcus Johnson, guilty on three counts of aiding the killers. As a vital cog in this narrative, Justin Johnson’s half-brother confessed to enabling the communication between the suspects while they eluded capture, and even assisting a suspect communicate with his probation officer. The judge’s gavel is yet to fall on his sentencing. As this complex and unsettling saga continues to unfold, a city waits, watches, and hopes for justice to prevail.