The charges, which were brought against the 23-year-old by a Georgia grand jury, include one count of malice murder, one count of felony murder, aggravated assault and gun possession during the commission of a felony, recent legal documents obtained by the news outlet revealed.
The rapper, born Richard “Ricky” Lamar Hawk, was arrested in February on suspicion of killing his 34-year-old cousin, Frederick Rooks. The suspect has since been in custody. And after his arrest and implication in his cousin’s murder, Silento’s associates revealed the rapper had been struggling with mental health issues for many years.
“Over the past several years, Ricky has been suffering immensely from a series of mental health illnesses,” the rapper’s publicist posted on Instagram after his February arrest, The Atlanta Journal-Constitution reported. “We will continue in his efforts of treatment, but we ask in the meantime the public uplift him and his family in immediate prayer.”
The rapper had quite a number of other run-ins with the law prior to being arrested and charged with his cousin’s murder, NME reported. In September last year, authorities arrested and brought charges against him following a domestic dispute incident. And though he was released the next day, he was re-arrested again after he was accused of forcing his way into a stranger’s home with a hatchet. Silento said he was looking for his girlfriend.
He was also arrested for overspeeding in Georgia in October. Authorities said he was driving at over 140 mph on I-85 at the time, adding that he informed officers he was speeding because he was being followed, The Atlanta Journal-Constitution reported.
“If there is like 10 cars following me, I can do 143 because I am not a regular person, and you could go look on your computer and it would tell you that,” he was quoted as saying in the incident report.
The 23-year-old rapper rose to fame in 2015 with his viral dance song Watch Me (Whip/Nae Nae). The music video for the song has been viewed over 1.8 billion times on YouTube. The hit single also peaked at number three on the Billboard Hot 100 chart after its release. And his debut album, Fresh Outta High School, was released in 2018.
But a year after that, the rapper, in an interview on “The Doctors” talk show, opened up about his struggles with depression. “I’ve been fighting demons my whole life. My whole life,” Silento said at the time. “I was born with weed, coke, heroin, pills, all type of drugs in my system. I saw family members talking to walls. I watched family members fight. I watched family members try to kill each other. Nobody should have to watch that.”