(BILLBOARD) – A Florida judge says Drake won’t need to sit for a deposition over the murder of XXXtentacion, seemingly swayed by the star’s arguments that he has no connection to the case.
Defense attorneys for one of XXX’s alleged killers have been trying to question Drake over his alleged beef with the late rapper prior to his 2018 shooting death. But Drake’s lawyers have argued that dragging him into the case without any evidence linking him to the crime is “unreasonable and oppressive.”
In a ruling issued Tuesday (Feb. 14), Judge Michael Usan sided with Drake’s attorneys, according to a person with knowledge of the proceedings, signing off on an order voiding a subpoena that would have required the star to sit for such a deposition. TMZ was first to report the news on Tuesday.
Neither a rep for Drake nor the defense attorney who sought to depose him returned a request for comment.
Prosecutors have never claimed that Drake (real name Aubrey Graham) was involved in the 2018 murder of XXX (real name Jahseh Onfroy). Instead, they’ve charged four Florida men — Dedrick Williams, Trayvon Newsome, Michael Boatwright and Robert Allen — who they allege killed XXX during a robbery that escalated into deadly violence.
But defense attorney Mauricio Padilla, who represents Williams, listed Drake on a star-studded witness list last year. And in his opening statements at trial last week, Padilla suggested that the police had not sufficiently investigated a possible connection to Drake, who allegedly had an existing feud with XXX before his death. Such speculation has been fueled by a 2018 social media post — later deleted — in which XXX said: “If anyone tries to kill me it was @champagnepapi,” referring to Drake by his Instagram name.
With plans to make those arguments at trial, Padilla attempted to force Drake to sit for a Jan. 27 deposition but later claimed the star didn’t show up for the hearing. Last week, Judge Usan ordered Drake to appear for a deposition via Zoom on Feb. 24 or risk being held in contempt.
But Drake’s lawyers quickly moved to overturn that ruling. In a filing Sunday (Feb. 12), they said it was unreasonable to demand a deposition when “no evidence has been provided to substantiate the assertion that the [Drake] in any way contributed to, had knowledge of, or participated in the alleged incident.”
Instead, they cited that headline-grabbing December witness list — which also listed Quavo, Offset, Tekashi 6ix9ine, Joe Budden and even late Migos rapper Takeoff after he had already been killed — and argued that the defense attorneys were merely trying to pull unrelated big names into the case.
“It would appear, based on the names mentioned on the witness list filed by defendant’s counsel, that the intent to subpoena [Drake] is less for the purpose of discovering relevant evidence and testimony, but instead add more layers of celebrity and notoriety to a tragic and unfortunate event,” the star’s lawyers wrote.
Tuesday’s order granted the motion from Drake’s attorneys and tossed out last week’s ruling. It’s unclear if Padilla can try to depose Drake at a future point in the case.