Drake’s Lawyers Hit Back Against Deposition Subpoena in XXXTentacion Murder Trial
Drake and his lawyers are trying to quash an effort to subpoena him for a deposition in connection with the XXXTentacion murder trial.
The deposition is being sought by Mauricio Padilla, a defense attorney for one of the three suspects, Dedrick Williams. Prosecutors have never claimed that Drake (real name Aubrey Graham) was involved in XXXTentacion’s death, arguing instead that XXX (real name Jahseh Onfroy) was killed in June 2018 during a robbery outside a motorcycle store that quickly escalated to violence. Padilla has inserted Graham, and his alleged feud with the rapper (real name Jahseh Onfroy), into his case as a possible alternative theory to the killing.
Padilla tried to subpoena Graham for a deposition at the end of January, claiming that Graham was properly served but did not show up for the deposition. Padilla then filed an “order to show cause,” which the judge granted, Feb. 9. The order states that because Graham failed to appear for the deposition at the end of January, he “shall appear for a deposition” on Friday, Feb. 24. It continues: “If deponent Aubrey Drake Graham does not appear to deposition he must appear before this court on Monday Feb. 27, 2023 at 10 a.m. EST at so [sic] the court can determine why he should not be held in contempt.”
In new court filings, obtained by Rolling Stone, Graham’s lawyers hit back at Padilla and the ruling. For starters, they claimed that the original deposition subpoena was not properly served, nor was it properly accepted by Graham. The filing also says the subpoena for deposition “places an unreasonable and oppressive burden” on Graham, with his lawyers pushing back against Padilla’s claims about his alleged involvement.
“In a case such as this, it is both unreasonable and oppressive to subpoena an out of state party who has not been mentioned in any reports, any investigation, or referenced to have any involvement in this matter,” the filing reads. “Based on the evidence so far provided in this case, there is video which purports to show the defendants allegedly as participants in the murder of the victim. No evidence has been provided to substantiate the assertion that [Graham] in any way contributed to, had knowledge of, or participated in the alleged incident and to mandate that he appear for deposition for something that he very clearly has no relevant knowledge of is unreasonable.”
Padilla did not immediately return Rolling Stone‘s request for comment.
Along with trying to get Graham to participate in a deposition, Padilla referenced the alleged feud between the two musicians in his opening arguments on Feb. 7. Specifically, he cited a social media post from Onfroy in Feb. 2018 that read, “If anyone tries to kill me it was @champagnepapi [Drake’s Instagram handle]. I’m snitching right now.” Onfroy, however, deleted that post — as well as a few other incendiary posts — and wrote, “Please stop entertaining that bullshit on Twitter. My accounts were previously hacked.”
Despite that ostensible retraction, which the defense attorney didn’t appear to acknowledge in his opening statement, Padilla wondered aloud to the court, “Do you think… any detective has ever asked Drake or anybody like that? No, they never did that.”
Padilla delved even deeper into the alleged beef and Graham’s alleged potential connection to Onfroy’s death in a court filing submitted last December. According to the document, the feud began in 2017: First, a friend reportedly told Onfroy that Drake liked his music and was interested in meeting and helping him while he was in jail for allegedly abusing his pregnant girlfriend. Graham, however, never made contact, and Onfroy’s “feelings toward Drake began to shift in a negative fashion.”
Then Drake released “KMT” in March 2017. Onfroy, who allegedly managed to hear the song while still in custody, “instantly believed Drake stole his song,” according to the filing. “The cadence of the rap style and rhythm of the song is by all standards extremely similar and have caused many to believe that Graham did in fact steal important aspects of the song from Onfroy.”
When Onfroy was released from jail, he escalated the beef (though it always appeared rather one-sided). His trolling attempts included posts about Graham’s mother, a photo of a Drake look-alike with semen on his face, and the “If anyone tries to kill me” tweet.
As for Onfroy’s ostensible retraction and hacking claim, the filing alleges that hip-hop personality DJ Akademiks (Livingston Allen) stated that Onfrony “removed the post and made a false claim that he had been hacked.” Livingston allegedly warned Onfroy that “although he did not believe that Graham was a violent person, Onfroy could be pushing him to retaliate.”
The filing goes on to allege that Graham has close ties to several people with gang affiliations, including Hassan Ali, who once claimed on DJ Akademiks’ podcast that he was “Drake’s shooter.” Furthermore, the filing claims Graham, since Onfroy’s death, has “consistently written lyrics… that the defense believes relates to the decedent.” These even include a few lines on “BS,” off Her Loss, where Drake says, “I never put no prices on the beef until we end this shit/I pay half a million for his soul, he my nemesis.”
Finally, the filing includes quotes from a deposition given by Onfroy’s mother, Cleopatra Bernard, in which she recalled the concerns she had about her son’s feuds with Graham, as well as Migos. In the deposition, Bernard said that she asked one of Onfroy’s relatives to accompany him to the motorcycle shop the day he died “because of the ongoing battle with Drake and Migos.”
This story was updated 2/13/23 at 10:37 a.m. ET with details about Drake’s efforts to quash the subpoena for a deposition.