Ninja Man is now facing the possibility of life in prison after he was found guilty of murder and shooting with intent.
The Dancehall veteran was convicted on Monday (Nov. 21) in the Home Circuit Court in Kingston.
The Jamaican artiste, whose given name is Desmond Ballentyne, along with son Janiel, and another man, Dennis Clayton, was brought before the courts for the killing of Ricardo Johnson, also known as “Ricky Trooper” a crime that could have been easily avoided.
His two co-accused were also convicted of murder, but were freed of the shooting with intent charge.
Ninjaman legal troubles started from a simple domestic dispute on Marl Road, Kingston 13, over kitchen space.
The Director of Public Prosecution (DPP), Paula Llewellyn, said the entertainer, as well as his co-accused, were not seen pulling the trigger of the gun that killed Johnson in 2009.
However, she said evidence given at the trial, pointed to the three men committing the act as a result of a domestic feud that started the previous day.
“One of the tenants was an old lady, and she made a report to her granddaughter, who was the babymother of Dennis Clayton, one of the accused,” the Director of Public Prosecution (DPP), Paula Llewellyn, said.
She noted that Clayton along went to the yard and March 16, 2009 and spoke to the landlord of the tenant, whom Llewellyn called “Witness A.”
“There was a quarrel between Witness A and Mr Clayton. They got into a physical fight and Mr Clayton won the fight. Mr Clayton said, ‘I am going to go for a gun and shoot yuh,” the DPP added.
Prosecutors argue that the following day, Ninja man was among four men, including his co-accused, who returned to the home of Mr. Johnson, where the witness was staying.
According to the evidence, Clayton he returned about 8:00 a.m. on March 17 with other men, and was then armed with a machete.
During that round of the fuss, stones were also thrown.
Llewellyn said the evidence given was that after another bout of arguing, during which the younger Ballentine drove up and stopped at Johnson’s gate and made threatening remarks at him and Witness A, both Johnson and Witness A walked away from the fuss.
But later the same morning, Witness A went to visit Johnson and the same car was driven to the scene, this time with Clayton, Janiel and Ninjaman, who, after exiting the vehicle, threatened both men, as well as a relative of Johnson, who intervened. The Ballentines and Clayton later left the scene.
“At about 11:30 in the morning, Clayton returned with another group of men, who were armed with boards and bats. They approached Witness A and Johnson, who both ran in different directions.
While retreating, the evidence was that Witness A encountered Ninjaman, who had a gun in hand that he used to fire at Witness A, who ran to the back of Johnson’s house, where he saw the now deceased man, and both ran through a hole in the fence of the property,” she revealed.
According to the evidence, Witness A, after covering some distance, looked back and saw Johnson pushing the fence back in an effort to prevent others from coming through the hole. Johnson also had a machete that he was using to chop at the fence in a bid to ward off the attackers.
“Witness A testified of then hearing a loud explosion coming from the other side of the fence, and saw what appeared to be blood coming from Johnson’s side, with him shouting that he had been shot.
Witness A then saw Clayton looking over the fence briefly before Johnson fell and died at the spot.
Llewellyn said a relative of Johnson also gave evidence that she saw both Ballentines jumping over the gate of the premises with guns,” she disclosed.
The DPP said Clayton was placed at the crime scene by Witness A. She said voice recognition was also used to identify the younger Ballentine. This came from a witness who went to school and grew up with him. She said that witness was inside the house while everything was taking place.
“So the crown asked the court and the jury, using the concept of common design, to infer that these three men were acting together in a common design, which was aimed at using the guns to cause grievous bodily harm to Mr Ricardo Johnson,” Llewelyn indicated.
According to the DPP, her team of Kathy Pike and Nicholas Edmonds fought a hard battle, as the defence team put up a tough challenge in an effort to free their clients.
“As an experienced prosecutor, remember our role is to present the best possible case. It was a hard case. It was a difficult case. Circumstantial evidence cases are difficult to prove. There were critical issues of law that the crown had to make sure that they did their research, to be able to convince the court, especially in the case of Dennis Clayton, who was always armed with a machete,” outlined Llewelyn.
Queen’s Counsel Valerie Neita-Robertson represented Ninjaman, with Gladstone Wilson appearing for Clayton and Linton Walters for Janiel. All the lead defence attorneys declined to comment after the verdict was given.
All three are to be sentenced on December 15.
The former Downsound Records artist maintains his innocence while the main witness is currently in the witness protection program.