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‘Marked for death’: Man testified against XXXTentacion’s murderers. Now he’s off to prison

Dedrick Devonshay Williams, left to right, Michael Boatwright, Robert Allen and Trayvon Newsome were charged in the murder of South Florida rapper XXXTentacion. Allen pleaded guilty on Friday, Aug. 12, 2022. (Sun Sentinel/TNS)

Robert Allen, the fourth man involved in gunning down rapper XXXTentacion, will be behind bars for about two years after taking a deal that reduced his sentence in exchange for sitting at the witness stand.

Allen, who pleaded guilty in August to second-degree murder and armed robbery, turned on his co-defendents Michael Boatwright, Dedrick Williams and Trayvon Newsome during their month-long trial. In March, the jury sealed the fates of the trio after eight days of deliberation: guilty of first-degree murder and robbery with a deadly weapon.

Boatwright, Williams and Newsome were each handed down two life sentences by Judge Michael Usan in early April.

Broward Circuit Judge Michael A. Usan on Wednesday sentenced Allen, 27, to seven years in state prison — shaving off five of the years he already served during the length of the trial — followed by 20 years of probation.

“No sentencing is easy, and this one is hard,” Usan said. “I genuinely believe you are sorry for what you have done and not sorry for yourself.”

The family of Jahseh Onfroy, famously known as XXXTentacion, was present during the sentencing, solemnly listening to Allen’s fate. His aunt Deandra Ellis said on behalf of the family that they are satisfied with the outcome.

“I say we are content as far as what the judge threw out for the sentencing,” Ellis added. “We still have a long road ahead of us. It’s still a day by day process for us. Everyday is just another day that he’s missing.”

‘Marked for death’

Before the sentence came down, prosecutor Pascale Achille called Broward Sheriff’s Office detectives and a Multi-Agency Gang Task Force member to the stand to testify that Allen’s life would be in danger for providing information against known-gang members.

Allen, Boatwright and Williams were said to be affiliated with the violent South Florida-based clique ZMF, the witnesses said.

ZMF, established between 2010 and 2013, primarily started as a way for the incarcerated to defend themselves when sent to north Florida prisons where South Florida gangs were not as prevalent, said Danny Polo, a gang unit member, during testimony.

It has since grown and committed “terrible acts of violence,” including weapons trafficking, fraud, drug trafficking, prostitution, murder for fire and organized robbery.

ZMF has hard-set rules that must never be crossed by its members, similar to many American gangs — and speaking to law enforcement about fellow gang members is at the top.

Aside from telling law enforcement necessary information to convict XXXTentacion’s murdrers, he also helped detectives build enough probable cause to arrest a ZMF gang member in an unrelated cold case.

It should be noted that ZMF has an infamous reputation for retaliating against fellow members in the Florida prison system who they see as wronging the gang. Polo cited one incident in which an entire cell block beat up a gang member who was rumored to be gay.

“There is so much violence in the prison system that it doesn’t matter how hard they protect you if they want to get to you they will get to you,” said Danny Polo, a gang unit member.

The prosecution and Allen’s defense attorney Jim Lewis both suggested that Judge Usan sentence him to 20 years of probation with no time in prison, though to no avail.

Allen also pleaded to Usan for a lesser sentence. He offered his sympathies to XXXTentacion’s family and spoke remorsefully about his crimes.

“If I have to die in prison then so be it I know the risk I was taking,” Allen said to the judge. “Let justice be served and I’ll know that was the right thing to do…Please forgive me.”

Lewis believes Allen could have gotten much worse, like a life sentence, and the court did take into consideration the “great risk” he made by being candid with detectives about his gang involvement and how XXXTentacion’s murder unfolded. However, it may not be enough to save Allen.

“He’s a dead man,” Lewis said. “He’s been marked by that gang for death and there will be a bounty placed on his head that hopefully will never be collected.”

A key witness tells all

In four days of testimony, Allen detailed the events of June 18, 2018 — and how they led to the robbery and murder of XXXTentacion.

Though a key witness, Allen was on the hot seat as defense attorneys poked holes in the state’s case. They stood in front of jurors and tried to cast doubt on the reliability of his testimony.

The main evidence against Newsome, attorney George Reres said, was Allen’s testimony. Reres claimed that Allen “changed his testimony to fit what the state wanted him to say” to reduce his time behind bars.

“All the physical evidence points against what Robert Allen said about Trayvon Newsome,” Reres said. The state “had nothing against Trayvon Newsome without it.”

Attorney Mauricio Padilla, who represented Williams, combed through the state’s list of witnesses and ranted about Allen, whom he painted as a career criminal with a lot to gain from lying.

“They’re asking you to convict somebody based on that guy’s testimony,” he said. “How many times did Robert Allen [say] ‘Oh, yeah. I lied’?”

Boatwright’s attorney, Joseph Kimok, pointed to how Allen was turned down a deal with police in 2018 and told investigators he felt they were pressuring him to say things he didn’t know. Then last year, Kimok said, prosecutors went to strike a deal with Allen.

“He gets two things out of his testimony,” Kimok said. “He gets a chance to go home and he gets to protect the real [perpetrators].”

In the state’s closing statement, prosecutor Pascale Achille shied away from mentioning Allen, instead opting to focus on surveillance videos, phone records and the flashy social media posts linking the defendants to the crime.

However, Achille fired back at the defense’s claim that Allen was an unreliable witness.

“Plans that are hatched in hell do not have angels for witnesses,” she said.

The murder of an emerging rapper

XXXTentacion was shot to death on June 18, 2018, as he was leaving the RIVA Motorsports dealership in Deerfield Beach. A dark-colored SUV blocked his BMW, police say, and two gunmen hopped out — robbing the rapper and firing a spray of bullets.

After the murder, police identified the two gunmen as Boatwright, 27, and Newsome, 24. They identified Williams, 27, as the getaway driver.

The focus of the robbery, police say, was a Louis Vuitton bag with $50,000 inside. The rapper had withdrawn the sum from his account at a Bank of America branch in stacks of hundred-dollar bills.

XXXTentacion, who died at 20, came into the public eye in 2017 with his single “Look At Me!,” which was posted to the music website SoundCloud.


© 2023 Miami Herald

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