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Buju's gun charge dropped

BY KARYL WALKER Editor - Crime/Court walkerk@jamaicaobserver.com
Thursday, June 27, 2013


A gun charge against imprisoned Jamaican reggae artiste Mark Myrie, better known as 'Buju Banton', was yesterday dropped in a United States court.

In the meantime, the entertainer's attorney, Chokwe Lumumba, said yesterday that he was mulling over the possibility of filing an appeal to have the artiste's 10-year drug conviction overturned after yesterday's ruling on the gun charge by Judge James Moody.

Judge Moody overturned the gun conviction on the basis of a revelation to the US media by jury foreman Teri Wright that she had defied his orders at the start of the trial that no juror should study any aspect of the law as it related to the entertainer's trial for drug offences.

"We are thinking of filing an appeal to have his drug conviction overturned. However, we have not made a decision as yet. In a couple of days we will decide on which course to take," Lumumba told the Jamaica Observer last evening.

Banton was slapped with the additional five years on the gun charge after a Georgia-based Appeals Court threw out a motion to have his sentence overturned.

Even though Judge Moody dismissed the gun conviction, which was slapped on Banton through the use of the Pinkerton Law -- which states that an accused person can be convicted of using a firearm in furtherance of a drug offence despite the fact that the individual was not present when the gun was being used -- he left the door open for the prosecutors to retry Banton for the offence.

The gun in question -- a 9mm pistol -- was found hidden in a secret compartment of a car being driven by Banton's co-accused James Mack who, along with Ian Thomas, was arrested and charged after they attempted to purchase a large quantity of cocaine from Drug Enforcement Agents in a Government-controlled warehouse in Tampa, Florida.

"I think they will retry that case," Lumumba said.

If Banton's attorneys decide to seek a retrial and their motion is granted, the artiste could languish for more than a year before the case is called up. He has already served 40 months of his 10-year sentence.



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