Kartel's, Storm's appeal out the blocks

BY RICHARD JOHNSON
Observer senior reporter
johnsonr@jamaicaobserver.com

Tuesday, July 10, 2018

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ATTORNEYS representing dancehall artistes Vybz Kartel and Shawn Storm are pleased with their opening day in the appellate court.

The team of Tom Tavares-Finson, Valerie Neita-Robertson and Bert Samuels began the appeal to overturn the 2014 conviction of the artistes in relation to the murder of Clive “Lizard “ Williams in the Court of Appeal in downtown Kingston yesterday.

Speaking to the Jamaica Observer, Tavares-Finson said the team was delighted with the decision by the panel of justices hearing the matter to admit two of the three applications for fresh evidence to be admitted, as put forward by the legal team.

“It was an excellent day in court,” he stated. “Both applications are critical and have been accepted by the courts, and we look forward to proceeding with matters on Monday. The application put forward by Counsel Samuels relates to the statements made by an eyewitness to the police. It was agreed that this will be admitted into evidence. The second application which was submitted by Counsel Neita-Robertson relates the statements by members of the jury. That matter is currently in the Half-Way-Tree Parish Court.”

Tavares-Finson said the lawyers are satisfied that these are compelling grounds on which to appeal, as these matters relate to “the credibility of the so-called eyewitness and jury contamination”.

For Samuels, it was a “very good day in court”.

He said that the third application which was not upheld by the courts related to pre-trial prejudice.

“Even though that application was not upheld at this time, it could come into play if a retrial of the case is ordered,” he told the Observer.

This relates to how elements of the case are discussed in the media and other fora, which, it is believed, can be prejudicial.

None of the appellants exercised his right to appear in court.

Vybz Kartel, whose given name is Adidja Palmer, and Shawn “Shawn Storm” Campbell are jointly charged along with Kahira Jones and Andre St John with the murder of Williams. At the end of the trial, which lasted 65 days, the four were convicted by an 11-member jury and received life sentences.

Vybz Kartel will be eligible for parole after serving 35 years; Campbell and Jones are to serve 30 years before parole can be considered; while St John will have to do 30 years.

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