Drake’s lawyers are firing back at efforts to force the superstar to sit for a deposition over the murder of XXXtentacion, claiming he has no connection at all to the crime and that defense attorneys are merely trying to “add more layers of celebrity and notoriety” to the case.
Just days after a Florida judge ordered Drake to appear for such a deposition by Feb. 24, the rapper’s lawyers argued in a new motion filed on Sunday that there is no evidence suggesting that he was in any way connected to XXXTentacion’s 2018 shooting death.
“It is both unreasonable and oppressive to subpoena an out of state party who has not been mentioned in any reports, any investigation, or referenced to have any involvement in this matter,” Drake’s attorney Bradford M. Cohen wrote in the response filing. “To mandate that he appear for deposition for something that he very clearly has no relevant knowledge of is unreasonable.”
Prosecutors have never claimed that Drake (real name Aubrey Graham) was involved in the death of XXXTentacion (real name Jahseh Onfroy). Instead, they charged four Florida men — Dedrick Williams, Trayvon Newsome, Michael Boatwright and Robert Allen – who they allege killed XXX during a robbery that escalated into deadly violence.
But defense attorney Mauricio Padilla, who represents Williams in the case, listed Drake on a star-studded witness list in December. And at opening arguments last week, Padilla suggested that the police had not sufficiently investigated a possible connection to Drake, who allegedly had an existing feud with XXX before his death. Such speculation has been fueled by a 2018 social media post – later deleted – in which XXX said: “If anyone tries to kill me it was @champagnepapi,” referring to Drake by his Instagram name.
Planning to make those arguments at trial, Padilla attempted to force Drake to sit for a Jan. 27 deposition, but he’s claimed in court filings that the star didn’t show up for the hearing. So last week, the judge overseeing the case ordered Drake to either appear for a deposition via Zoom on Feb. 24, or risk being held in contempt of court.
In Sunday’s filing, Drake’s lawyers pushed to set that order aside. They said the subpoena was not properly served on the superstar, meaning he had been under no procedural obligation to show up. And even if it had been, they argued that he has no connection to the case that requires a deposition in the first place: “No evidence has been provided to substantiate the assertion that the Non-Party in any way contributed to, had knowledge of, or participated in the alleged incident.”
Instead, Drake’s lawyers pointed to the fact that prosecutors plan to show jurors video evidence of the defendants committing the crime. And they cited that headline-grabbing December witness list — which also listed Quavo, Offset, Tekashi 6ix9ine, Joe Budden and even the late Migos rapper Takeoff after he had already been killed – as evidence that defense attorneys were merely trying to pull unrelated big names into the case.
“It would appear, based on the names mentioned on the witness list filed by defendant’s counsel, that the intent to subpoena [Drake] is less for the purpose of discovering relevant evidence and testimony, but instead add more layers of celebrity and notoriety to a tragic and unfortunate event,” the star’s lawyers wrote.
Padilla, the defense attorney who is seeking to depose Drake, did not immediately return a request for comment Monday on Drake’s response filing.
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