TAMPA — Billy Bennett Adams III is a semi-professional rapper who makes rhymes and music videos under the moniker Ace NH. He’s popular on Instagram, where his musical persona and videos have drawn more than 30,000 followers.
Late one night two years ago, Adams shot and killed two men after a session at a Lutz recording studio.
His defense attorneys don’t deny this. But they say there was a reason Adams killed Trevon Albury and Daniel Thompson.
As his trial opened this week in a Tampa courtroom, a jury was told they’d have to decide: Was it self-defense, or was it murder?
In opening statements Tuesday, lawyers walked the jury through differing accounts of what happened the night of Nov. 19, 2020, inside Meeks Beatz Studios.
The audio recording business operates out of a 10-by-10-foot shed behind a home along N 23rd Avenue, north of Bearss Avenue. Joseph Meeks is the business’s proprietor. The shed, which sits behind his parents’ home, includes a recording booth, another room with computers and sound equipment, and a small storage area.
For a fee, Meeks lets artists come in to record their music. He’d worked with Adams before. The rapper arrived late that night with Albury and Thompson. Meeks had never met them. They lingered behind him in the recording room while Adams performed in the booth.
During the session, another man, Jimeile Lenier, who performs as “Juh-million,” arrived to record as a “featured artist” with Adams. When they were done, Lenier left. But about that time, he got a text message from Adams.
“Pull off fast,” it stated. “I’ve got some business to handle.”
As Meeks sat at a computer, preparing and emailing an audio file to Adams, the other men lingered behind him.
Then came two gunshots. Meeks jolted. When he turned around, he saw one of the men lying on the floor, and another slumped in a chair, according to court records and testimony. Adams stood holding a handgun, Meeks would later say.
“They were gonna rob,” Adams uttered.
Meeks ran outside. He heard a third gunshot before Adams took off, Meeks said later. He got in his car and called 911.
Assistant Public Defender Carolyn Schlemmer told the jury that moments before the gunshots, Adams saw Albury pointing a gun at Meeks’ head. He shot him, she said, to protect Meeks. Thompson then tried to grab Adams before he was shot, too, she said.
“Mr. Adams was not only defending Mr. Meeks from an imminent threat,” she said. “He was defending himself.”
Adams will testify in the trial, Schlemmer said. He will explain how he became aware the pair intended to rob Meeks. He sent Meeks a text message minutes before, trying to warn him, she said.
But Meeks, who was among the first to take the witness stand, said the pair did nothing threatening that night.
Source: tampa bay