Alleged mastermind in Young Dolph’s murder pleads not guilty

Published: Nov. 17, 2022 at 6:22 PM CST
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MEMPHIS, Tenn. (WMC) - The alleged mastermind in the murder of Young Dolph made his first appearance in court today.

Hernandez Govan pleaded not guilty to charges related to the case.

One week after being indicted by a grand jury, the 43-year-old faced a judge for the first time Thursday morning.

The court appearance came on the one-year anniversary of the death of the rap star.

It was the public’s first look at Govan since the indictment, the man prosecutors say recruited co-defendants 24-year-old Justin Johnson and 32-year-old Cornelius Smith to kill Adolph Thorton aka Young Dolph.

Govan is charged with first-degree murder, criminal attempted first-degree murder and conspiracy first-degree murder.

Govan faces a life sentence if convicted of first-degree murder, possibly the death if the prosecution seeks enhanced punishment.

Dolph was killed November 17, 2021, but the conspiracy offense date was more than 5 months before, leading to speculation that the planning of the rapper’s murder began in the summer.

“I’m limited as to what I can say as a matter of ethics. The indictment alleges that Mr. Govan participated in a conspiracy to kill Adolph Thornton ‘Dolph’ and it alleges the dates of the conspiracy,” said prosecutor Paul Hagerman.

Govan had just posted bond for an unrelated charge earlier in the year.

In court Thursday, Govan plead not guilty to all charges against him.

“So I haven’t seen the discovery. They’re making that allegation, so they’ve got to show me why. Why are they saying that? And I’m looking forward to seeing that,” said Govan’s attorney William Massey.

Govan’s next court date is December 16.

The other two defendants are not scheduled to return to court until January.

Massey says it’s too early to tell if all three co-defendants will be tried together, but he says it’s unlikely that the trial will come anytime in 2023.

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