Sunday 12 July, 2020

Vybz Kartel Appeal: Lawyer cites ‘contaminated’ evidence at trial

The defence in the Vybz Kartel murder appeal on Wednesday piled the pressure on Justice Lennox Campbell, the now retired high court judge who presided over the 2014 murder trial of the entertainer and his then co-accused, which led to their murder convictions and subsequent life sentences.

Defence attorney Robert Fletcher, representing Kahira Jones, one of Kartel’s three co-convicts, asserted that Justice Campbell allowed “contaminated exhibits” into evidence, which he suggested ultimately sealed his client’s fate.

Fletcher argued before the three-member panel of the Court of Appeal that to allow text messages and video recordings lifted from Kartel’s cell phone into evidence, prejudiced the case against the four accused men.

"The contamination was acknowledged, accepted, and unexplained," Fletcher stated.

He argued that “once the learned trial judge admitted the exhibits that were contaminated, there was no way he could correct it in his summation (to the jury).”

The attorney questioned the reasoning behind Justice Campbell’s decision to “ask the jurors to determine whether it (the telephonic evidence) was contaminated," after he had allowed it.

“What skills do they have that would allow them to make such a decision?" questioned Fletcher.

A high-profile team of defence lawyers began presenting arguments before the Court of Appeal on Monday in an attempt to secure the release of Kartel, whose real name is Adidja Palmer, and his fellow  convicts, entertainer Shawn ‘Shawn Storm’ Campbell, Andre St John and Kahira Jones.

The men were found guilty in April, 2014 of the murder of their friend, Clive ‘Lizard’ Williams, at a house owned by Kartel in Havendale, St Andrew. Williams’ body was never found.

The four men were sentenced to life in prison with Kartel being eligible for parole after 35 years, St John 30 years, and the other men 25 years.

Also on Wednesday, Queen’s Counsel, Valerie Neita-Robertson, who is representing Kartel, argued that her client could not have killed Williams, as to do so would have put him in two separate places at the same time, based on evidence that was presented at the trial.

The veteran lawyer pointed to evidence presented that the entertainer visited Andrews Memorial Hospital in St Andrew at 7:48 p.m. Kartel was accompanied to the hospital by the main prosecution witness after he was bitten by his own dog, supposedly as the events unfolded while Williams was being murdered.

Evidence presented at trial by a police cybercrime expert suggested that Kartel was in Havendale at 7:52 p.m.

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