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INDIAN RIVER COUNTY — Gifford rapper Jamell Demons, or YNW Melly, tested positive for COVID-19 coronavirus soon after Broward County sheriff’s officials announced the jail’s first confirmed case Wednesday, according to an attorney and sheriff’s officials.
A timeline of confirmed COVID-19 coronavirus cases in Broward County Jail shows Jamell Demons, YNW Melly, was the second person to test positive for the virus inside the facility.
Jamell Demons’ Twitter and Instagram accounts published statements Thursday night announcing his condition.
One post on Instagram stated: “He’ll be filing a motion for restricted release in hopes of better care due to any jails not being prepared to treat this new virus.”
Demons, 20, has been in the facility over a year.
He turned himself in in February 2019 on charges of murder in the first degree in the shooting deaths of fellow rappers and friends, Anthony Williams — YNW Sakchaser — and Christopher Thomas Jr. — YNW Juvy — on Oct. 26, 2018 in Miramar.
Another Gifford rapper and friend of Demons’, Cortlen Henry, 21, is also in jail there, charged with two counts of premeditated murder and two additional accessory-after-the-fact charges.
State prosecutors and police accused Demons’ of shooting Williams and Thomas and Henry of helping him cover up the murders after a recording session on Oct. 26, 2018.
Prosecutors are seeking the death penalty.
Both men have pleaded not guilty. They told Miramar police investigators the deaths were the result of drive-by shooting.
A Fort Lauderdale criminal defense attorney has returned to Demons’ defense team after briefly leaving the case.
Bradford Cohen, of Bradford Cohen Law, said he was “back on this specific issue,” although he said he anticipates greater involvement in the future.
Shortly before noon Friday, Cohen said he was working on the motion, mentioned in the Instragram post, and its intent to “get him medical care outside of the jail.”
Cohen said, so far, the “restricted release” motion was intended to get Demons “just to the hospital.”
He said he couldn’t say anything about Demons’ physical condition due to federal medical privacy laws.
Prosecutors in the state attorney’s office said they would not comment without a filing.
Jacksonville attorney John Phillips, of Phillips & Hunt, took to Twitter to oppose any release of Demons.
The Broward County Sheriff’s Office announced its first confirmed coronavirus case in jail April 2 in a man who tested positive at a hospital a day before.
He was taken there for medical testing unrelated to the virus, after he refused “routine screening” on March 31 by the jail’s healthcare provider, Wellpath.
The agency released a statement that said: “When the inmate was arrested in March, he was medically screened during booking and showed no signs of COVID-19.”
The agency announced a second person tested positive for the virus April 2.
That night, the statements were posted to Demons’ social media accounts.
April 3 the jail announced a third positive case of the virus.
Public information Officer Veda Coleman-Wright said they haven’t released the identities of the three people.
Coleman-Wright said they are not conducting jail-wide testing, but are implementing “deep-cleaning procedures” and restricting movement of people found positive and those they’ve come in contact with.
She said they “pull the movement history of the inmate” to determine which employees and inmates need to be isolated and those areas of the jail that need to be sanitized.
Coleman-Wright said, “If an inmate needs to be transported to (a) hospital (for a) higher level of care than what we can provide in the jail,” they are taken.
In Broward County Friday night, the state Department of Health reported 1,598 confirmed cases of COVID-19; 192 hospitalizations and 22 deaths.
Corey Arwood is a breaking news reporter for TCPalm. Follow Corey on Twitter @coreyarwood, or reach him by phone at 772-978-2246.
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