Law enforcement releases more information on suspects in Young Dolph murder investigation

3rd person facing charges as an accessory after the fact
Published: Jan. 12, 2022 at 4:58 AM CST|Updated: Jan. 12, 2022 at 7:29 AM CST
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MEMPHIS, Tenn. (WMC) - Investigators held a news conference to release more information about the arrests of two men in connection with the murder of Memphis rapper Young Dolph. As of Tuesday, Justin Johnson and Cornelius Smith are both behind bars.

It’s been nearly two months since Young Dolph was shot and killed during a visit to the Bluff City.

Investigators say 32-year-old Smith has been sitting in a Mid-South jail for weeks after his arrest in Southaven.

The other suspect, 23-year-old Johnson, was picked up more than 500 miles from Memphis. U.S. Marshals tell Action News 5 they caught Johnson at a truck stop in Brazil, Indiana Tuesday. Several cities across the U.S. were searched prior Johnson’s arrest, including Indianapolis, Dallas, Houston, Atlanta and Hampton.

Officers arrested a second person in the vehicle with Johnson, Shundale Barnett. Barnett is believed to have been providing assistance to Johnson since the beginning of the investigation and is now charged with being an accessory after the fact to first-degree murder.

Shundale Barnett charged with accessory after the fact
Shundale Barnett charged with accessory after the fact(Clay County Police Department)

On Tuesday, a Shelby County grand jury indicted Smith for Young Dolph’s murder.

The Memphis rapper was shot and killed while buying cookies at Makeda’s on Airways Nov. 17. Court documents say Dolph’s brother was with him at the time of the shooting.

Smith faces a slew of charges including:

  • First-degree murder
  • Attempted first-degree murder (for shooting at Young Dolph’s brother)
  • Being a felon in possession of a firearm
  • Employment of a firearm during a dangerous felony
  • Theft over $10,000

Johnson was wanted on a first-degree murder charge and an outstanding warrant for violation of supervised federal release.

According to court affidavits, Johnson is no stranger to violent crimes. He’s been arrested more than once in the past few years, each time involving guns.

Back in 2017, court documents showed Johnson served six months of a five-year sentence for shooting and injuring three people after a bowling alley argument. One of the victims was a well-known music artist.

Criminal defense attorney Steve Farese says the incident doesn’t help his case for bond guilty or not. After he got out of prison early for being a model inmate, Shelby County court documents show he was arrested a month later with drugs and a gun, which triggered the warrant for his arrest.

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