BTY slain

BTY Young'N, via hiphopsrevival on Instagram

New Orleans prosecutors have dismissed charges against two men accused of killing local rapper BTY YoungN in Hollygrove last year.

The Orleans Parish District Attorney’s Office dropped second-degree murder charges against Darryl Bannister Jr. and Kyron Williams on Feb. 23.

Bannister and Williams were accused in the fatal shooting of BTY YoungN, born Desmone Jerome, at a gas station in April 2017. Jerome was well-known in rap circles for his affiliation with producer Birdman’s Cash Money Records.

Neither Bannister nor Williams was in custody at the Orleans Justice Center on Tuesday.

Prosecutors revealed little about why they dropped the charges.

“Based upon the totality of evidence available, we decided it was not prudent to proceed to trial at this time," said Ken Daley, a spokesman for the DA’s Office. "Investigation into the murder of Desmone Jerome remains open and ongoing.”

No other suspects have been identified, according to a Police Department spokeswoman.

The death of the up-and-coming rapper, which came amid a spike in homicides in New Orleans, attracted widespread attention.

Police said two masked gunmen attacked Jerome, 27, at a Shell gas station in the 9200 block of Airline Highway on April 29, 2017. He was shot multiple times and died on the scene.

"Jealousy is behind it," Jerome's mother said at the time. "Because of his success as a rapper."

An arrest warrant said that a phone linked to Bannister through a relative was found on the scene. He was booked in May of last year, and a grand jury handed up charges against him and Williams in September.

Neither man was explicitly accused of shooting Jerome in charging documents.

A lawyer for Bannister argued from the start that the evidence against him was weak. Attorney Russell Barksdale pointed out that Bannister’s DNA was not found on the phone and that no witnesses could identify Bannister as the shooter.

Barksdale even suggested that the phone may have been planted on the scene to frame his client.

Williams' DNA was found on the phone, but the murder charge against him was also dismissed. His attorney said the dismissal suggested there was a weak case against his client.

“If there’s at all the slightest hint that they could possibly prosecute a case, no matter how minuscule, they would certainly do it,” Jerry Settle said.

He continued, “I feel for his family, I really do. And I feel for this city, because we lost a real jewel. He was an extraordinarily talented person.”

Follow Matt Sledge on Twitter, @mgsledge. | (504) 636-7432