FULTON COUNTY SHERIFF’S deputies arrested Anastassios Manettas, an attorney representing one of the defendants in the sprawling trial of rapper Young Thug and 13 others accused of gang and racketeering charges in Atlanta. Manettas had been carrying prescription medicine and on Thursday, officers dragged him off at the security checkpoint.
The sheriff’s office is still formalizing charges, said Fulton County sheriff Pat Labat, adding that drugs have been an issue during the trial. “We have increased the security protocol,” Labat said. “We will continue this moving forward. Anything coming into this courtroom will be checked.”
Chadha Jimenez, another defense attorney on the trial, tells Rolling Stone that he told Manettas to toss him his phone so that it wouldn’t be subject to a search at the jail. In the scrum, Manettas missed and hit one of the deputy captains with his phone. That added a charge of assaulting an officer, Jimenez says. Manettas’ parents were present at the courthouse this morning, but refrained from comment.
“They’re not motherfucking doctors,” Jimenez says. “They didn’t have a warrant. They don’t have a right to know about his motherfucking conditions.”
Young Thug (whose real name is Jeffery Williams) was arrested last year in a 56-count gang and racketeering indictment that also snared the rapper Sergio “Gunna” Kitchens and 26 other defendants. Williams is accused of engineering the murder of Donovan “Peanut” Thomas in a drive-by shooting in 2015, which precipitated months of near-continuous violence between the accused Young Slime Life street gang and its rivals, YFN.
Judge Ural Glanville currently has a bond request for Manettas’ client Miles Farley under consideration. Farley is facing a murder charge and is accused of being involved in the death of Shymel Drinks in the blood feud between YSL and YFN, which is also facing RICO and gang charges in Atlanta. Glanville ordered that Farley’s case be severed from the main trial, the seventh severance of the wide-ranging case.
Farley has no criminal record and is a college graduate who began a “Make America Slime Again” merchandising brand in conjunction with the YSL label. His background distinguishes him from most of the other defendants charged in the case. Eight other defendants, including Gunna, have accepted plea deals that ended in probation. Farley was also offered probation in a deal, which would have required him to admit in court that YSL was a street gang and to testify in court, Manettas says. (Farley refused the deal.) But on Wednesday, Manettas argued that if several other defendants had been considered unthreatening enough to offer probation in plea deals, the blanket question of Farley’s dangerousness should be reconsidered.
It has been a chaotic couple of days at the trial. On Wednesday, deputies removed Rodalius “Lil’ Rod” Ryan from the courtroom. His screams from the holding area could be heard in court as the door to the hallway closed. Ryan, 21, was convicted last year of murdering a teenager in Atlanta in 2015 and received a life sentence. (He faces a racketeering charge in the YSL RICO case.) Ryan got into a scuffle with Deputy Morris Kandakai in January that led to Kandakai’s suspension. Ryan and two co-defendants, Christian Eppinger and Damone Blaylock were also charged with stabbing an inmate at the Fulton County Jail in January.
As Ryan was removed from court, Eppinger and Dorsey rose in protest and were subsequently led out of the courtroom over their protestations. Court security then cleared the room — removing journalists — and the hearing was halted for an hour. Court officers also instructed the pool videographer to stop filming.
Ryan was arrested because he smelled of marijuana when he returned from a break, Labat said, adding that small bags of marijuana were “sewn into a secondary pair of underwear.” He added that Ryan screamed as deputies began to search him.
The trial began jury selection in January, with the expectation that the trial would require six to nine months to complete. Jury selection has slogged on for months because it is proving difficult to find 12 people who can set their lives aside for half a year or more. Defense attorneys say they do not expect opening arguments to begin until August at the current pace. The trial has taxed the court’s resources and exposed the challenges of providing public defense to dozens of people who do not have the assets of a Grammy-winning superstar.
Ryan’s attorney Angela D’Williams petitioned the court last week to be removed from the case, citing low pay. (She later sent a text message to colleagues rescinding the offer to withdraw.) But her request exposed the growing rift between defense attorneys and the Georgia Public Defender’s Council over low pay for extensive trials like the YSL case. D’Williams hopes the petition will change the policies of the public defender’s council and raise payment for cases.