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Dancehall star Vybz Kartel, in a plea for his freedom, told the 11-member panel of jurors in the High Court on Thursday (Feb. 13) that his skin bleaching and tattoos were tools of his trade and asked not to be judged by his appearance.
In one of five unsworn statements from the dock by the accused men, Vybz Kartel, asked Justice Lennox Campbell and the jurors to separate Vybz Kartel from Adidja Palmer.
“My Lord, I bleach my skin and I am heavily tattooed also.
My Lord, that is merely superficial, that is the persona of Vybz Kartel, not Adidja Palmer. My Lord, I think you will agree…,” he said.
“Who me?” asked Justice Campbell. “Yes, My Lord, that sometimes a person can be judged by the way they look. My Lord, I am not an alien who came from space and landed on Earth.
“I am a normal man. I even have a family, some of which are here today, including my grandmother, cousin and mother-in-law,” Kartel pleaded.
He also contended that the actions of Security Minister Peter Bunting, whom he claimed had taken his music and image to Washington, DC, and declared that the music was glorifying scamming, and had pointed to him during a Unite For Change symposium at Police Officers’ Club last year, while he was awaiting trial on remand, were part of a grand conspiracy against him and his friends.
“My Lord, if that is not prejudicial against my case, then I don’t know what is,” he said.
He told the court that on September 30, 2011 he and a female companion were inside a hotel room when the police raided and put them both to lie on the floor before handcuffing them and leading them out to the lobby where he was greeted by other cops and members of the media.
He said he was taken to two St Andrew homes he owned, including the one at 7 Swallowfield Avenue, where it is alleged that Clive ‘Lizard’ Williams was bludgeoned to death in August of the same year before being taken to his mother’s house in Portmore.
He said the police had tried in every way to fabricate evidence against him by reporting that a decomposing body was found at his house and that they had seized four cellular phones from his cell.
These, he said, were aimed at denying him bail. He said a probe by the Independent Commission of Investigations (INDECOM) found that the claim of the cellular phone seizure was false.
He also denied having anything to do with ‘Lizard’s’ death, and said he never encountered him at the Swallowfield Avenue house.
Entertainer Shawn “Shawn Storm” Campbell told the court that he was a trained mechanic and had been employed to the Jamaica Urban Transit Company for six years where he was promoted to a grade one mechanic.
He denied taking ‘Lizard’ to the Havendale house on August 16, 2011, but said he had dropped him off at a guest house in the community then left the star witness at Vybz Kartel’s house before heading home.
Campbell said he was visited by the witness that same night and the witness did not inform him of anything untoward happening at Havendale that night.
“My Lord, Madam forewoman and members of the jury, I am an innocent man, and what I would ask for is to get my life back so I can look after my sick mother and daughter and further my career as an artiste,” he said.
Kahira Jones was next. Jones, who said he was a neighbour of Vybz Kartel while he lived at Waterford, St Catherine, claimed that he was being framed solely for his association with Vybz Kartel.
“I am not a murderer. Mr (star witness) and the police dem plan up to tell lie on we. Dem tell we seh dem a go send all a we a prison,” Jones said.
Shane Williams gave an emotional statement in which he wondered why he was being ‘persecuted’ for doing nothing.
The prosecution’s star witness had earlier identified him as ‘Terrence’ through a voice that was overheard in a video and told the court that Williams lived in Gregory Park, St Catherine.
However, the soft-spoken Williams denied the claims and said he had never exchanged words with the witness before.
“I don’t live in Gregory Park. I have never lived in Gregory Park. That is not my voice. My Lord, I am innocent.”
“I don’t know why I am even here,” Williams said.
André ‘Mad Suss’ St John said he was a barber who resided at 59 Manning’s Hill Road and was the single parent of a six-year-old girl whose mother had died tragically in a motor vehicle accident.
He, too, said he had been accused of murder solely because he was an associate of Vybz Kartel. St John said only the star witness had entered the Havendale premises in August 2011 and ‘Lizard’ was nowhere in sight.
He said the witness walked through the gate and did not realise that the dog was loose. The dog attacked him and Vybz Kartel came to his aid but was bitten by the dog.
St John said he restrained the animal and took it to the back of the house to chain it up and when he returned to the front Vybz Kartel was not in the yard, so he left and went to his barber shop.
“I don’t know of any plot or plan in this alleged murder whatsoever. This is all a plan by (the star witness) and the police. I don’t know where Clive Williams is. I am innocent,” he said.
Maureen Nelson, Vybz Kartel’s eldest sister and vice-principal for a high school in St Catherine, gave character evidence on his behalf and said he was an extremely kind person who bought his mother a house, his father a car for his birthday, and gave his siblings regular trips abroad.
During her testimony, Vybz Kartel was almost brought to tears and bowed his head in his hands and shook it slowly.
Earlier, Justice Campbell ruled against all no-case submissions and said all five accused men had a case to answer.
The trial is expected to end this week with the defence planning to call a handwriting expert and a character witness for Campbell.
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