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Young Dolph murder suspects given another week to hire attorneys

Justin Johnson and Cornelius Smith made their second court appearance Friday morning on charges in the deadly shooting.

MEMPHIS, Tenn. — The suspects in the murder of Memphis rapper Young Dolph made their second court appearance Friday morning.

The judge gave Justin Johnson and Cornelius Smith an extra week to hire attorneys, and they are due back in court February 4, 2022. Both Johnson and Smith declined a public defender during their first court appearance and told the judge they would hire their own attorneys.

RELATED: Young Dolph murder suspects appear for first court hearing

The Shelby County District Attorney General’s Office said Johnson and Smith were indicted in the shooting death of 36-year-old Adolph Thornton Jr. (Young Dolph), which happened on November 17, 2021, at Makeda’s Cookie on Airways Blvd.

Credit: Shelby County Sheriff's Office
Justin Johnson and Cornelius Smith

23-year-old Johnson - a Memphis rapper known as Straight Drop - and 32-year-old Smith were each indicted on counts of first-degree premeditated murder, attempted first-degree murder, convicted felon in possession of a firearm, employment of a firearm in the commission of a dangerous felony, and theft of property over $10,000.

RELATED: Young Dolph murder suspect appears in federal court for violating his supervised release

The murder counts are for the death of Young Dolph, while the attempted murder counts are related to Young Dolph’s brother, who was with him at the time of the shooting. The theft count relates to the getaway vehicle from the shooting, which was taken in a carjacking a week earlier.

Both Johnson and Smith are being held without bond in the Shelby County Jail.

Johnson was arrested January 11, 2022, in Indiana by U.S. Marshals. He and a passenger were taken into custody without incident. Johnson waived extradition and was returned to Memphis.

RELATED: Authorities detail how they tracked down suspects in murder of Memphis rapper Young Dolph

The passenger, 26-year-old Shundale Barnett, faces charges including accessory after the fact to first-degree murder. Investigators believe he helped Johnson avoid capture.

Credit: Clay County, Indiana, jail
Shundale Barnett

Smith was extradited from DeSoto County, Mississippi, where he was being held on a theft charge since December 9, 2021.

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