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Buju gets another lifeline

BY KARYL WALKER Editor - Crime/Court Desk walkerk@jamaicaobserver.com

Thursday, April 04, 2013    

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REGGAE artiste Buju Banton was handed another lifeline yesterday after it was revealed that embattled juror Teri Wright had submitted the wrong computer hard drive for examination by a computer forensic expert hired by him to examine if she had studied aspects of the law involving his drug traffick-ing case during his second trial in February 2011.

Banton's attorney Kwame Lumumba told the Jamaica Observer yesterday that Wright had indicated to the court, during an earlier sitting, that she had used a laptop computer, but the expert had found that she in fact submitted the hard drive for an old desktop computer.

"Her attorney stated in court that she surrendered the hard drive of a laptop computer. She said she did research on the case three weeks after the trial. The expert found no evidence that she did any research at all on that hard drive and found that it was not the hard drive of a laptop but the hard drive of a desktop. We are of the firm opinion that she did not submit the hard drive for a laptop computer," Lumumba said.

Wright had reportedly told a reporter that she studied aspects of the Pinkerton Law which was used to convict Banton on a firearm charge.

He faces an additional five years after an Appeals Court threw out a motion to have his sentence overturned.

He also pointed to other inconsistencies in Wright's statements during jury selection for the trial.

"It was also revealed that she had served on seven juries, but she said she only served on one jury in a civil matter. She is a seasoned juror. If his lawyer (who was then David Markus) had known that, she would have been rejected. She changed the syntax of her statement because at first she said she served on juries then changed and said jury. It was very misleading," said the lawyer.

The revelation has prompted Lumumba to file a motion asking US Judge James Moody to make a ruling that Wright had violated his orders.

If the court rules in favour of Banton, it would open the way for a new trial for the entertainer who is serving a 10-year sentence after being found guilty of drug-related charges. He is currently languishing in the Pinellas County Jail in Tampa, Florida until the matter is sorted out by the US Sam Gibbons Court in the same city.

"A new trial, that is what we are asking for," said Banton's lawyer.

Lumumba said the ruling could be handed down in two weeks as his client has been incarcerated and was uncertain of his future.

Banton, whose real name is Mark Myrie, would then undergo a third trial to prove his innocence and if he is successful he could seek damages for wrongful imprisonment and loss of earnings. He could also argue that his right to travel to the United States and work, which has been taken away by the US authorities, be reinstated.

"If we are successful it does raise certain questions if he will pursue a civil suit," he said.

The Jamaican entertainer was arrested at his Tamarac, South Florida home in December 2009 after US Drug Enforcement Agents arrested two men — James Mack and Ian Thomas — in a government-controlled warehouse in Tampa as they attempted to purchase a large quantity of cocaine from undercover police.

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