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Jurors urged to ground judgement on evidence in Vybz Kartel trial

Busta Rhymes, others turn out to support artiste

Friday, March 07, 2014    

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JUSTICE Lennox Campbell yesterday completed the first day of summation in the Vybz Kartel murder trial, a day that saw United States-based rap stars Busta Rhymes and Spliff Star present in the number two courtroom of the Home Circuit Court where the matter is being tried.

Outside the courtroom, Busta Rhymes greeted and spoke with relatives of Vybz Kartel before leaving. He returned in the afternoon after court was adjourned and it was expected that he had planned on visiting with Vybz Kartel yesterday. However, efforts by local journalists to get comments from the rap star were unsuccessful.

Campbell's summation to the 11-member panel of jurors, who are to decide the fate of the dancehall artiste and his four co-accused, started minutes after 10:00 am and was marked by meticulous attention to the details of the prosecution's case. The judge took his time repeating certain strong points of the prosecution's case to a jury that seemed at times weary.

On the other hand, Campbell seemed to have dealt with the defence's case in a cursory manner, which at one point caused attorney Tom Tavares-Finson to rise to his feet to clarify an issue concerning a voice supposedly of his client on electronic evidence presented during the trial.

Campbell told the jurors that the artiste never denied that the voice was his.

"You said that the accused didn't deny the voice was his. But the accused is saying that the voice was manipulated," said Tavares-Finson, pointing out that the way it was explained by the judge was unfair to his client.

Campbell then briefly told the jurors that the artiste had, indeed, claimed that the voice on the recordings were "spliced" or "manipulated". However, the judge proceeded to point out to the jurors that they have heard the artiste's voice and will have to determine whether the voice attributed to him had been manipulated.

At another point, Justice Campbell told jurors that they would have to ask themselves why the accused would invite Clive 'Lizard' Williams — the man whose alleged murder the five accused are being tried for — to a darkened house and pointed out to them that the walls were high and no one could see into the yard from outside.

Following the luncheon adjournment, Tavares-Finson was again forced to interrupt Campbell during his summation of the evidence of the girlfriend of Williams. Campbell had been quoting the content of text messages believed to have been sent between Williams and his girlfriend on August 16, 2011 — the day on which Williams was believed to have been killed — when Tavares-Finson told the judge that the content of the text messages were not entered into evidence through her.

Vybz Kartel, whose real name is Adidja Palmer; Shawn Campbell, popularly known as Shawn Storm; Shane Williams; Andre St John; and Kahira Jones have been on trial since last year over allegations that they beat Clive Williams to death at Vybz Kartel's Havendale, St Andrew home over the disappearance of two illegal guns.

Yesterday, Campbell started his summation by telling the jurors that the first main issue they have to determine in the case is whether or not Clive Williams is dead.

Justice Campbell said that there is no direct "I see" evidence in the case, but added that death can be proven by circumstantial evidence, which he listed as the fact that neither Williams' girlfriend nor his sister has heard from him since August 16, among other things.

"If there is any doubt, you must acquit," he told the jurors.

Campbell also cautioned them not to speculate, but to ground their judgement on the evidence presented. "You are bound by the evidence alone," he instructed as he cautioned jurors not to allow feelings of sympathy to cloud their judgement.

"You can have no sympathy for the accused men or for Clive Williams," he said.

Justice Campbell told the jurors that they can't use the fact that Jamaica is plagued by crime against the accused men.

He also cautioned them not to take Vybz Kartel's music or the evidence of "locking of guns" into consideration in arriving at their verdict.

"People's morals are not on trial," said Justice Campbell.

The judge briefly addressed the defence's claim of a conspiracy. He will continue his summation of the case today.

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