Vybz Kartel Appeal: Defense & Prosecutors Argue Over Text Message Evidence

Attorneys representing Vybz Kartel and prosecutors sparred over damning text message evidence during appeal case.

There was a momentous argument between the defense team and prosecutors at the murder appeal over text messages on Friday.

The damning text messages, reportedly taken from the “Worl Boss” deejay’s phone, were put into evidence by Assistant Director of Public Prosecutions (ADPP) Orrett Brown and lead persecutor Jeremy Taylor

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Orrett Brown, who opened the prosecution’s response to the issues raised by the defense team, charged that the digital evidence vital in the conviction of Kartel and his co-appellants were not contaminated, and therefore was rightly accepted by the trial judge, Justice Campbell.

“There was no evidence that the BB [BlackBerry] messages, videos and text messages taken from Kartel’s mobile phone were tampered with and, even if they were, that was an issue for the jury to decide,” he asserted.

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In relation to all the digital evidence that the Crown had relied on, Brown said there was no evidence to prove that they were tampered with or altered.

However, the ADPP conceded that there were gaps in continuity of the exhibits, which may have given rise to the issue of reliability, but he said that too was a matter for the jury to decide.

“Even if it can be reasonably argued that gaps in the evidence may raise a reasonable doubt, it is still admissible,” Brown argued.

Orrette Brown also told the appeal court that the claim by Kartel’s defense that the damning “chop up fine fine” text message was created six weeks before Williams was killed on August 16, 2011, was “a misapprehension of the evidence”.

He said that it was the file that was created six weeks before the murder and not the text, which was created three days after Williams was killed.

He also sought to explain assertions from the defense team that one of the phones that was seized from Kartel was used three hours after it was seized by means of text.

The ADPP said that the text that was sent from the phone was either sent by the service provider or by the police officer who was trying to find out the number assigned to the phone, which is a usual procedure to check the phone if it is locked after it is seized.

In relation to the three calls that were made from the phone while it was in police custody, Orrette Brown stated that he had no explanation to offer while recalling that the investigating officer had said that the phone had dialed itself.

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Meanwhile, Senior Deputy DPP Jeremy Taylor in his re-examination had asked police Detective Corporal Shawn Brown, of the Organised Crime Investigation Division, to look at the call schedule in relation to text messages which were attributed to accused Shawn Campbell and the mother of his child between August 16 and 18, 2011.

In one text message sent on August 16, 2011 the woman reportedly told Campbell not to put himself in any trouble. In another message she also urged Campbell not to get involved in anything and that he should not trust the persons he was around.

The Kartel’s legal team objected to the text messages being put into evidence but lead prosecutor Jeremy Taylor revealed the door was open to allow them to be submitted.

Taylor asserted that it was during cross-examination by the defense team that it was borne out that the number was that of the mother of Campbell’s child.

The court was told that on four occasions on August 18, 2011, Shawn Campbell sent text messages to the woman telling her to delete the text messages he sent to her and the ones she sent to him.

Additionally, the court was shown a text message from a number attributed to Campbell which was reportedly sent to another number said to be attributed to Kartel saying “Lamar Noel Chow,” who is the prosecution’s star witness.

Chow has testified that he and Clive ‘Lizard’ Williams were taken to Vybz Kartel’s house in Havendale, St Andrew by Campbell where they were attacked.

The prosecution is alleging that Williams was beaten and killed over two missing guns.

The Crown will continue on Monday to respond to the grounds raised by the defence for the convictions against the four men to be overturned.

Vybz Kartel, Shawn Storm, Kahira Jones, and Andre St John were sentenced to life in prison in April 2014, with Kartel being eligible for parole after 35 years, St John 30 years, and the other men after serving 25 years.

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