Monday 20 May, 2019

Vybz Kartel Appeal: More questions about ‘chop up fine, fine' text

The integrity of phone evidence used to convict entertainer Vybz Kartel and his co-accused of murder was again brought into question Tuesday, as defence attorneys responded to submissions made by prosecutors at the Court of Appeal in Kingston.

Attorney Isat Buchanan argued that the ‘chop up fine, fine’ message used by the prosecution to convict the men was modified while in police custody.

He argued that the phone was accessed up to five times by cops and that messages presented to the court were not in their purest form but were altered and stitched together to read in a particular manner.

The attorney also spoke about software that police could have used to manipulate the time stamp on the message.

“It is submitted that the five times that the phone was accessed by the police would have presented opportunities for someone within the unit to apply the process call anti-forensic technique which amounts to tampering, and is therefore illegal, and that software can be used to manipulate the time stamps on the messages,” said Buchanan in the final day of hearing in the case.

He also said that the dates when authorities claimed the messages were created changed a number of times, and the file in which the messages were placed was regularly modified.

"There are several dates floating around," Buchanan said.

The defence in the Vybz Kartel appeal case had earlier claimed that the message was created on July 6, 2011, before Clive “Lizard” Williams was murdered. In their response, prosecutors said the defence misread information on the device, and that the message was in fact created on August 19, three days after Williams was murdered.

However, on Tuesday, Buchanan argued: “It is important just to outline that discrepancies in the META DATA, EPOC and time exceeds far beyond July 6 and August 19.”

He added that, with so many different dates, the text messages should not have been admissible.

“The question was now, to what was the extent of these modifications,” he said.

Bianca Samuels, the attorney representing Shawn “Shawn Storm” Campbell, one of the co-accused, argued that the trial judge, in his summation, admitted that the integrity of the phone had been compromised.

She said this evidence should not have reached the jury, adding that the use of the phone while in police custody remains unexplained.

President of the Court of Appeal, Justice Dennis Morrison did not indicate a specific timeline on when the panel of three justices – Morrison, Frank Williams and Patrick Brooks – will reach a decision but stated that the case will be given “some priority attention”.

Vybz Kartel, Shawn "Shawn Storm" Campbell, Kahira Jones and Andre St John were convicted in March 2014 for the murder of Clive "Lizard" Williams.

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