In their latest attempt to free their client from jail before trial, Gunna’s attorneys are now asking a neighboring county in Georgia – the physical location of the rapper’s jail cell – to order his release.
After months of unsuccessfully asking a Fulton County judge to release Gunna (real name Sergio Kitchens) on bail, his lawyers are now trying their luck with nearby Henry County, the location of the jail where the rapper is hosted.
In a so-called petition for habeas corpus — a constitutional procedure that allows prisoners to challenge their imprisonment — Gunna’s attorneys argued Tuesday that Fulton County prosecutors had provided little to no evidence for support his continued incarceration.
“To allow Mr. Kitchens to be held in jail by the state’s unsworn allegations and conclusions, devoid of any specific facts or supporting evidence – despite the objection of the defense – is to empty his presumption of innocence and to set aside his right to due process,” Gunna’s attorneys wrote.
Habeas petitions must be filed in the jurisdiction where a prisoner is being held, and Gunna is currently being held in Henry County Jail. But the maneuver offers a convenient way around the Fulton County Superior Court, which has repeatedly denied Gunna’s bail requests.
The habeas maneuver should also provide an avenue of appeal. The Fulton County judge refused to allow Gunna’s attorneys to file a mid-term “interlocutory” appeal challenging the denial of bail. But if the habeas petition is denied, Gunna has the right to automatically challenge the decision — and her jailing — in a state appeals court.
A spokesperson for the Fulton County Attorney’s Office did not immediately return a request for comment on the petition.
In May, Fulton County prosecutors released an 88-page indictment against Young Thug, Gunna and 26 others, claiming their “YSL” was not a record label called “Young Stoner Life,” but a violent street gang called “Young Slime Life”. who had wreaked havoc on Atlanta over the past decade. The charges, filed under Georgia’s version of federal RICO law, included allegations of murder, carjacking, armed robbery, drug trafficking and unlawful possession of firearms by various members of the YSL.
Young Thug and Gunna were later denied bail, with prosecutors arguing in both cases that releasing the rappers could allow them to intimidate or harm witnesses in the sprawling case.
Echoing previous statements, Gunna’s attorneys argued Tuesday that those allegations were supported by nothing more than unsworn “information” by prosecutors, not actual evidence or even sworn testimony.
“Repeatedly, the state presented shocking and conclusive facts, then provided no basis as to how it believed that information was accurate and gave no connection between the ‘facts’ and Mr. Kitchens,” the rapper’s attorneys wrote. “Without the proper cross-examination tools, the defense was powerless to respond.”
The habeas petition, filed by lawyers Steven H. Sadow, Donald F. Samuel, John A. Garland and Kristen W. Novayrequested a hearing within 8 days of filing.