JACKSONVILLE, Fla. — A high-profile Jacksonville rapper won’t go to trial as scheduled after a judge agreed to postpone the case at the request of prosecutors.
Noah Williams, who performs under the name Spinabenz, is charged with possession of a firearm by a gang-related felon. His successful music career, which includes the viral-verging-on-mainstream video “Who I Smoke,” is in part predicated on his affiliation with a violent street gang that police say has committed dozens of homicides.
The extent to which Williams' gang ties will be allowed at trial was one issue discussed at Thursday’s hearing. Prosecutors want to introduce both his rap videos and his social media presence to build a timeline of events they say will prove that a gun police found in a car with him was actually his weapon. Williams’ attorney argued the case is “a simple possession case” and that the evidence would be unfairly prejudicial.
The Fourth Judicial Circuit (Duval, Clay and Nassau counties) has allowed what is called “inextricably intertwined” evidence in prior gang cases, notably in the murder trial of Henry “Cracka Jack” Hayes. He and Kquame Richardson were convicted of murdering 22-month-old Aiden McClendon in 2016 when the toddler was caught in gang crossfire. Police say the intended target was Williams’ brother, Reginald Williams, who performs alongside his brother under the name “Woppa Wit Da Choppa.” McClendon was their cousin.
Both Williams brothers appear in the popular “Who I Smoke” video, along with Jacksonville rapper Yungeen Ace [Kenyata Bullard] and FastMoney Goon.
The judge did not issue a final ruling on the “gang enhancement” issue. But he did agree to delay the trial at least two weeks at the request of prosecutors. It’s time Williams will have to spend behind bars. His bond was revoked last week after police say he removed his ankle monitor.