A man charged with orchestrating Young Dolph’s m*rder pleaded not guilty Thursday – a year after the rapper and record label owner was assaulted and shot dead while buying cookies at a bakery in his hometown of Memphis, Tennessee.

Hernandez Govan, 43, made a brief appearance at the Shelby County Criminal Court in Memphis. He was arrested last week after being charged with first-degree m*rder and conspiracy to commit first-degree m*rder in killing the rapper, who was 36 when he died. The judge set Govan’s next hearing for December 16.

Govan is the third man charged on November 17, 2021 with the killing of Young Dolph, whose real name was Adolph Thornton Jr. The m*rder in broad daylight stunned Memphis and shocked the entertainment world. Police said two men got out of a white Mercedes and fired shots at Makeda’s Homemade Cookies, which is located near the rapper’s family home in the Castalia district. Police released photos taken from surveillance video that captured the shooting, and authorities later found the abandoned car.

Justin Johnson and Cornelius Smith Jr. they pleaded not guilty to first-degree m*rder and other charges in the shooting and are being held in prison without bail. They are due to appear in court on January 20.

In a weekly bulletin, Shelby County District Attorney Steve Mulroy said Govan “ordered the m*rder and set it in motion.” But no evidence has been made public to support this claim, and the suspected motive has not been disclosed. The investigation is ongoing.

“I know you all want details, facts, answers to some of these mysteries and things like that,” prosecutor Paul Hagerman told reporters after Thursday’s hearing. “Even if we knew them, we couldn’t tell you.” For ethical reasons and our legal requirements, we must limit ourselves to what is made public.”

Govan’s lawyer, Bill Massey, said he was seeking prosecution evidence in a case that Massey said might not start until after next year due to the amount of evidence and the number of defendants.

Known for his portrayals of tough street life and an independent approach to the music business, Young Dolph was admired for his charitable work in Memphis. He organized Thanksgiving turkey gifts, donated thousands of dollars to high schools, paid rent, and covered funeral expenses for people in the Castalia Heights neighborhood where he grew up.

His job as a rapper, producer and owner of the indie label “Paper Route Empire” took him out of Memphis, but the father-of-two returned to the city days before the m*rder to visit a sick relative and organize a turkey giveaway, which took place without him.

After Young Dolph’s d*ath, a section of the street near his childhood home was renamed after him. A private funeral was held and he was honored in a public ceremony at FedExForum, home of the Memphis Grizzles of the NBA and the University of Memphis men’s basketball team.

City officials and community activists also pointed to the killing as symbolic of the scourge of gun violence in Memphis. Since the rapper’s d*ath in Memphis, there have been several other high-profile killings this year, including the shooting of a United Methodist pastor during a car theft in her driveway; the kidnapping and shooting of an elementary school teacher whom police believe was abducted during an early morning run; and a man’s day-long shooting that was partly live-streamed and resulted in the d*aths of three people.

Young Dolph was born in Chicago and moved to Memphis with his parents when he was 2 years old. He has released numerous mixtapes starting with 2008’s “Paper Route Campaign” and numerous studio albums including his 2016 debut “King of Memphis”. He has also collaborated on other mixtapes and albums with fellow rappers Key Glock, Megan Thee Stallion, T.I., Gucci Mane, 2 Chainz and more.

His three albums reached the top ten of the Billboard 200, with 2020’s “Rich Slave” peaking at No. 4.

Makeda’s, the bakery where he was shot, was boarded up and closed before reopening in September.

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