ATLANTA — The brother of Atlanta rapper Young Thug entered a negotiated guilty plea on Tuesday, making him the fifth defendant to plead out before the sprawling gang case goes to trial next month.
Court records show Quantavious Grier, who raps under the stage name Unfoonk, pleaded guilty to one count of violating the state’s RICO act and one count of theft by receiving stolen property.
He was sentenced to 12 years, with two years commuted to time served and the balance on probation, records show. Conditions of the negotiated guilty plea include 750 hours of community service, having or possessing no guns and a curfew from 10 p.m. to 6 a.m. unless he is working, in school or an emergency arises.
The plea hearing was apparently held upstairs as co-defendants, their attorneys and members of the news media waited in a larger first-floor courtroom for Judge Ural Glanville to return to the bench. Grier’s defense attorneys and Fulton County prosecutors each declined to comment on the plea agreement.
As part of the guilty plea, Grier is not allowed to talk to his brother, Young Thug, whose real name is Jeffery Williams, or any of the other co-defendants in the indictment. If called to testify, Grier is allowed to assert his Fifth Amendment right, according to court documents.
Atlanta rappers Slimelife Shawty, Gunna and Lil Duke and co-defendant Walter Murphy all entered negotiated guilty pleas last week and have been released from jail. The five negotiated guilty pleas bring the remaining number of defendants to 23, including Young Thug.
There were 28 defendants named in the original indictment. Prosecutors have argued that YSL is a gang and Young Thug is one of its leaders and founders. Defense attorneys say it’s just a record label.
Hearings were held Monday and Tuesday to qualify expert witnesses for the state. Four expert witnesses, including Fulton County Medical Examiner Dr. Karen Sullivan, were qualified to offer expert testimony during the trial on Monday.
On Tuesday, an attorney representing defendant Shannon Stillwell grilled Deputy District Attorney Michael Sprinkel about why it took prosecutors seven years to indict his client for murder in the January 2015 shooting of Donovan Thomas outside a Castleberry Hill barbershop.
Attorney Maxwell Schardt argued that his client wasn’t afforded the right to a speedy trial because prosecutors wanted to use Thomas’ killing to build a RICO case against Williams and other alleged YSL members. Instead of quickly indicting Stillwell on a murder charge in the drive-by shooting, Schardt said prosecutors sat on evidence for years until they could bring the sweeping RICO case.
As a result, he said, jurors will now be unduly influenced by evidence presented against Stillwell’s remaining co-defendants.
“My client, Mr. Stillwell, because this is a RICO case, is being tried for two murders at the same time,” Schardt said during the hearing. “Because this is a RICO case that was indicted in 2022, my client is accused in 20 overt acts listed in the indictment.”
Sprinkel said while he believed prosecutors had enough evidence to indict Stillwell sooner, they weren’t sure it was enough to get a conviction in the case.
He also said Thomas’ gang-related slaying sparked a series of retaliatory shootings between members of the Inglewood Family Bloods, of which Thomas was a “high-ranking member,” and rival YSL members.
“The murder of Donovan Thomas was the genesis of the dispute between these two gangs that claimed numerous lives and injured countless others,” Sprinkel said from the stand.
He also acknowledged under oath that Williams has been on prosecutors’ radar since 2016 when they learned the popular rapper allegedly rented the car used in Thomas’ drive-by shooting.
Hearings are set to resume Wednesday at 9:30 a.m.