One year after Young Dolph, a rapper, and record label owner, was ambushed and shot dead while buying cookies from a bakery in his hometown of Memphis, Tennessee, the man charged with planning the killing pleaded not guilty on Thursday.
The 43-year-old defendant Hernandez Govan made a brief appearance in Memphis’s Shelby County Criminal Court. He was indicted on many counts, including first-degree murder and conspiracy to commit first-degree murder, and detained last week for the death of the 36-year-old rapper. The next court date for Govan has been set for December 16.
Govan is one of three men arrested for the murder of Young Dolph (born Adolph Thornton Jr.) on November 17, 2021. The murder rocked Memphis and the entertainment industry since it occurred in broad daylight.
Young Dolph was killed near his childhood home
Two guys reportedly got out of a white Mercedes. They opened fire on Makeda’s Homemade Cookies, a bakery close to the rapper’s childhood home in the Castalia area, according to the police. Police published pictures acquired from security footage showing the shooting, and the vehicle was subsequently found abandoned.
Justin Johnson and Cornelius Smith Jr. are being held without bond after pleading not guilty to first-degree murder and other charges related to the incident. On January 20, they will get their court date.
In his weekly newsletter, the District Attorney of Shelby County, Steve Mulroy, wrote that Govan “solicited the murder and set it in action.” But no proof of that claim has been made public, and any possible motivation has been kept under wraps. A probe is still in the way at this time.”
After Thursday’s hearing, Prosecutor Paul Hagerman told reporters, “I know that you all want specifics, you’re wanting facts, you’re wanting sort of solutions to some of these mysteries and things like that.” We couldn’t tell you even if we knew them. Ethically and legally, we can only work with information already in the open.”
Bill Massey, Govan’s attorney, said he wanted to see the prosecution’s evidence in the case, which he predicted might not go to trial until after the new year because of the volume of evidence and the number of defendants involved.
He was admired for charitable works in Memphis
Young Dolph was a famous musician in Memphis who was respected for his philanthropic activities and depictions of hard street life in his songs. He provided free Thanksgiving turkeys to needy families, gave thousands of dollars to high schools, and helped pay people’s rent and funeral expenses in the Castalia Heights community where he grew up.
The father of two had left Memphis for his career as a rapper, producer, and owner of the independent label “Paper Route Empire.” Still, he had returned there days before his murder to see a sick relative and plan a turkey giveaway that went off without him.
A piece of the street near his childhood home was given the new name “Young Dolph Way.”
His murder was used as an example of the epidemic of gun violence in Memphis by city officials and community activists. The murder of Young Dolph is just the latest in a series of attacks on members of the hip-hop industry in recent years.
Born in the Windy City, Young Dolph and his family relocated to the Bluff City when he was just a toddler. Starting with 2008’s “Paper Route Campaign” mixtape, he has released several recordings, including his full-length album debut, “King of Memphis,” which came out in 2016.
In addition to working with rappers like Key Glock, Megan Thee Stallion, T.I., Gucci Mane, 2 Chainz, and others, he has released several albums and mixtapes with a wide range of guests. He had three albums reach the top 10 on the Billboard 200, with 2020’s “Rich Slave” peaking at No. 4.
Makeda’s, the bakery where he was shot, was boarded up and closed before it reopened in September.