ATLANTA – Atlanta rapper Gunna has been released from prison after pleading guilty to conspiracy charges in a sweeping indictment against him, rapper Young Thug and several other alleged members of the Young Slime Life gang.
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Mark Winne, Station 2’s investigative reporter was the only TV reporter in the courtroom Wednesday when Gunna, whose real name is Sergio Kitchens, faced the judge.
The rapper took a plea bargain, known as an Alford plea, in which a defendant does not admit to committing the crime, but acknowledges that it is in his best interest to plead guilty. The charge Gunna faced was a single count of conspiracy to violate the Damsification and Corrupt Practices Act.
Gunna was sentenced to five years in prison and one served in prison. The one-year sentence was changed to time served. The remaining four years of his sentence have been suspended and will be subject to special conditions including 500 hours of community service.
After the verdict, the rapper released a statement saying:
“While I have agreed to be truthful at all times, I want to make it absolutely clear that I have NOT made any statements, NOT been interviewed, NOT cooperated with, NOT agreed to testify or be a witness for or against a party to the case and has absolutely NO intention of participating in the trial in any way.”
Although he has said he will not testify, it is a condition of Gunna’s trial that he testify if called, although he can demand an additional fifth.
Gunna, Young Thug and 26 others were arrested in May in a sweeping gang indictment that alleged YSL was a violent gang that had committed multiple murders, shootings and vehicular homicides over a decade. Prosecutors said the rappers publicized the gang’s activities in songs and on social media.
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In his statement Wednesday, Gunna said that when he joined YSL in 2016, he didn’t see it as a gang, but “more like a group of people from Metro Atlanta who shared common interests and artistic aspirations.” My focus at YSL was entertainment — rap artists who wrote and performed music that exaggerated and ‘uplifted’ urban life in the black community.”
Gunna said she values her association with YSL music and always will.
At Gunna’s court hearing on Wednesday, the judge read out the provisions of the plea agreement, which Gunna then responded to.
The rapper swore he had personal knowledge of YSL members or associates committing crimes for the gang – but appeared to distance himself from the “YSL gang” versus the “YSL brand”.
“I acknowledge, accept and deeply regret that my talents and music have indirectly contributed to the YSL gang to the detriment of my community,” Gunna said in a signed statement. “YSL as a gang must end.”
Gunna also confirmed in the plea that he was in a car with Young Thug, whose real name is Jeffrey Williams, when officers pulled them over and found hydrocodone, methamphetamine and firearms inside. According to the settlement, Gunnar claimed that the gun and drugs were not his. It is unclear if anyone else was in the car at the time.
Under the plea deal, the rapper will be required to perform 500 hours of community service, a significant portion of which will require him to speak to young people about the dangers and immorality of gangs and gang violence.
He is also not allowed to carry a gun during his sentence. If he violates the provisions of the procedure, the district prosecutor has the right to cancel the suspended sentence.
YSL’s alleged founder, Walter Murphy, also entered a plea deal in the indictment on Tuesday, according to his attorney, Jacoby Hudson.
Hudson said Murphy has already been released and will not testify about the conduct of the other individual defendants. Hudson said the ways Murphy has turned his life around since getting out of prison was a big factor in the deal.
Young Thug is still in jail. His trial is due to begin in January.
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