ATLANTA — A Fulton County prosecutor misled a judge when she referenced a text message in which a co-defendant allegedly offered to “whack someone” for jailed Atlanta rapper Gunna, the musicians’ attorneys said Friday.
The text in question, which wasn’t even sent to the rapper, was actually written in June 2020 — nearly two years before he and 27 others were charged in a sweeping gang indictment, defense attorney Steve Sadow said in the court filing.
Prosecutor Adriane Love mentioned the message during Thursday’s bond hearing for Gunna, whose real name is Sergio Kitchens. Citing concerns about witness intimidation in the case, prosecutors have successfully asked that the judge keep the defendants behind bars without bond until next year’s trial.
“We have evidence that there are members of this organization who have conveyed their willingness to ‘whack’ or kill a person for the defendant,” Love told Judge Ural Glanville.
She added that some of the state’s witnesses are so afraid of retaliation they broke down and cried at the thought of testifying in the high-profile case.
Such claims have been enough to keep the defendants in jail so far, but Friday’s filing accuses the prosecution of misleading the judge. Sadow also said that particular text message was not included in the three terabytes of discovery evidence turned over to the defendants.
“Tell gunna happy c day it’s all love [100 and heart emojis] I’ll still a whack some Bout him,” the text read, according to the filing.
The text in question, Sadow wrote, was written nearly two years before the indictment and “has nothing to do with witness intimidation or obstruction.”
“For the State to aver that this text is an offer to commit murder (or to threaten or injure a witness in a case that was still two years in the future) aptly illustrates the problem of a hearing by ambush and proffer,” he said.
Prosecutors allege Kitchens and fellow rapper Young Thug are the leaders of a criminal street gang responsible for much of Atlanta’s violent crime.
Defense attorneys for the pair have maintained their innocence, calling the state’s claims baseless and saying the musicians will be exonerated at trial.
While those with means have obtained top defense attorneys, at least eight of the defendants still have no legal counsel. As a result, prosecutors have asked Glanville to postpone the trial until late March.
Don Geary, who had been the lead prosecutor in the case, recently left the Fulton County District Attorney’s Office for a job in Gwinnett.