Vybz Kartel's appeal of his murder conviction has been rejected by the Court of Appeal, Hype Life Magazine has learned.
After waiting for almost 20 months, the Court of Appeal this morning handed down a judgment affirming the murder conviction of the popular entertainer.
The verdict by the Appeal Court was passed on moments ago via teleconferencing between the panel of three judges, prosecutors and the attorneys for the four men.
The court also upheld the convictions and sentences for Dancehall artiste Shawn Storm (real name Shawn Campbell) and two other men, Kahira Jones, and Andre St John.
In April 2014, all four men were sentenced to life imprisonment for the 2011 murder of Clive ‘Lizard' Williams, with Justice Lennox Campbell directing that Kartel, whose real name is Adidja Palmer, serve a minimum of 35 years before being eligible for parole. Shawn Storm, André St John, and Kahira Jones were directed to serve 25 years.
Williams was murdered amid a dispute over two guns on August 16, 2011, at a house in Havendale, St Andrew, but his body has never been found. Central to the prosecution's case was the forensic evidence.
Kartel Trial Among Jamaica's Longest
The trial was one of the longest criminal trials in Jamaica's history.
Prosecutors led evidence including voice notes and text messages as well as videos taken from several phones, that Williams was lured to the Havendale house and beaten to death over two missing firearms. According to prosecutors, Williams and another man, who was the star witness, were summoned to the house to account for the guns.
The main witness testified that he ran from the house while he and Williams were being questioned about the guns. He gave evidence that when he left, he saw Williams “lying on the ground not moving”.
Kartel and his co-accused denied any involvement in the killing. However, the near six-month trial ended with a 10-1 decision to convict the four men and allegations that one member of the jury tried to bribe his counterparts to return a not-guilty verdict.
Four days after the trial ended, lawyers for the four men went to the Court of Appeal to challenge the convictions, pointing to several missteps by Justice Campbell.
They argued, among other things, that Campbell erred when he allowed the trial to continue after he became aware of the bribery allegations and that when the eleven-member jury was sent to consider their decision at 3:45 p.m, it placed them under pressure to arrive at a “rushed verdict.”
Vybz Kartel's Senior Attorney, Valerie Neita Robertson, QC, said on Thursday that she was “consistently confident” about the outcome of today's appeal based on her review of the trial transcripts.
“It was a lot of paperwork, lot of reading, and it is my considered view that Mr Palmer did not get a fair trial. What happened at that trial was a travesty of justice, and nobody in this country should support that,” Robertson told The Jamaica Gleaner.
“Give the man a fair trial, and if the verdict is guilty, it's guilty, but don't do what was done,” she continued, before quipping that there was still recourse at the Privy Council, Jamaica's court of last resort.
“All of Jamaica knows what happened in the trial. They heard it every day in the news and in reports in the media, and we know he didn't get a fair trial. Give him a fair trial. That is all that is being asked,” she added.
Fanatics of Vybz Kartel and Shawn Storm have outrightly sounded their disappointment in the Jamaican justice system, reverberating the statements of the lawyers that the men did not receive a fair trial.
Since his imprisonment, the “Worl Boss” deejay has managed to remain at the forefront of Dancehall, even though he is not permitted to record music while in prison.