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Kartel jury urged to review evidence against each accused separately

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

Tuesday, March 11, 2014    

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JUSTICE Lennox Campbell yesterday instructed jurors to examine the evidence in the murder trial against entertainer Vybz Kartel and his four co-accused separately so as not to summarily convict or acquit the men.

With more than 60 days of the trial gone, the 11-member panel of jurors seemed at times jaded yesterday but after a late start due to the absence of one of their number, Justice Campbell began to sum up the evidence.

"You are the sole judges of the facts in this case. It is not the judge's verdict that is asked for, but yours and yours alone. Your verdict need not be the same for all. Review the evidence against all separately," Justice Campbell said, as he continued his summation of the high-profile murder case in the High Court in downtown Kingston.

The judge yesterday spent considerable time summing up the evidence of the prosecution star witness who he reminded the jurors was the only eyewitness in the case.

He told the jurors that the witness' evidence had changed under cross-examination as it related to a light on a cellular phone, which he first told the court was constant but recanted to say it was flashing during cross-examination from defence attorney Pierre Rodgers.

He informed the jurors that eyewitness and voice identification evidence were very fragile and they had to consider a number of factors when considering the evidence in those two areas.

"I must, therefore, warn you to be very careful to convict anyone on eyewitness evidence. There have been wrongful convictions in the past," he said.

He said the jury must consider the length of time the witness had to see, the kind of lighting available, distance, and how long the witness knew the accused men.

"Voice identification poses the same type of danger. People sound like people. The danger is more acute," Justice Campbell said.

He also told the jurors that the only evidence entered against Shane Williams was a voice identification on a video, which was tendered into evidence by the prosecution.

The judge also mentioned the witness' testimony that he was invited to fly to Guyana with Kartel and Shawn Campbell to avoid being questioned and his refusal at one point to embark on the flight.

"He had never travelled overseas before with Mr Palmer so you may well ask yourselves why? Why that invitation?" he said.

Justice Campbell also spoke to claims by the defence that the star witness had concocted a story with the police to avoid a firearm-related charge.

He said the first statement given to the police by the witness was done eight days after the alleged murder on August 16, 2011.

"The question I ask myself, Madame foreman, and your members, is when that statement was given how would the police know? Eight days after the police gave the witness a statement and answer it? How did the police know that 'Lizard' would not be seen again?" he said.

Earlier in the proceedings, before the jurors were ushered into the courtroom, defence attorney Tom Tavares-Finson and Justice Campbell briefly faced off after Tavares-Finson asked the reason two notes were handed to the court registrar by the prosecution during his summation last week.

"What notes would that be?" Justice Campbell said.

"The notes were handed to me by the registrar. Maybe you can ask him," Justice Campbell said.

"The registrar is right here maybe your lordship could make the request?" Tavares-Finson asked.

"I will make no such request," Justice Campbell said sternly.

"The notes contained corrections to your summation," a defiant Tavares-Finson continued.

"This is very unusual, Mr Finson. I would have thought that after the judge's summation he would ask the defence if anything [was] left out?" The judge said.

At that point attorney Susan Dodd, who is a part of Shawn 'Storm' Campbell's defence team, rose to her feet and informed the judge that the notes were correcting him after he referred to a male cop as 'she'.

"I rarely mix up the sexes like that," Justice Campbell said jokingly.

Justice Campbell has so far summed up the evidence of about a dozen witnesses from a total of 31 and is expected to continue his summation this morning.

Vybz Kartel, Shawn Campbell, Kahira Jones, Andre St John and Shane Williams have been charged for the alleged murder of Clive 'Lizard' Williams.

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