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Prosecution, defence score on closing arguments

Friday, February 21, 2014    

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LEAD prosecutor Jeremy Taylor and defence attorney Miguel Lorne both scored crucial points during their closing arguments in the Vybz Kartel murder trial in the High Court in downtown Kingston yesterday.

Continuing his marathon presentation, which began on Tuesday, Taylor launched into convincing arguments as to why Vybz Kartel (real name Adidja Palmer) and the other four accused — Shawn 'Shawn Storm' Campbell, Kahira Jones, André St John and Shane Williams — should be convicted of the murder of Clive 'Lizard' Williams.

He painted Kartel as an arrogant, conceited person who thought he was above the law when he plotted to murder Williams over two missing guns.

He said Kartel seemed to be expressing glee when he referred to Williams as 'mince meat' in a BlackBerry message.

"He thinks I am untouchable, I am the Worl' Boss, nothing can happen to me," Taylor told the jurors.

Referring to text and BlackBerry messages extracted from a phone ascribed to Kartel, Taylor pointed out that when Kartel discovered

that he was a murder suspect he tried everything to flee the island fast.

"Police were looking at the house so he wanted to be outside of Jamaica," he said.

He also looked back at the evidence of the prosecution's star witness who testified under oath that he was inside the Swallowfield, Havendale house when Williams was attacked and had to flee for his life.

"When (the star witness) saw that, like in those old cartoons he said 'feets' don't let me down now, and fear, not Red Bull, gave him wings to fly the gate in a manner in which PJ Patterson would be proud," he said to chuckles from the jurors and others in attendance at the trial.

Taylor poured cold water on arguments by the defence that the prosecution's star witness was lying and would not

have accompanied Kartel to hospital after a pit bull had bitten him, if he believed he was marked for death.

He said Kartel had assured the witness that he would not come to harm as the guns were stolen by 'Lizard' and 'Browns'.

"Why did he proceed in the company of Palmer? What we have is some amount of assurance on the part of Palmer. Would you decide at that moment, given assurance by the top man, that nothing is going to happen to you at that moment? It doesn't mean he wasn't fearful, but he was given assurance. If he was part of a conspiracy theory why would he do the illogical thing?" Taylor quizzed.

He also encouraged the jurors to consider that, despite leaving the scene, Campbell was part of a common design to murder as he knew beforehand that Williams and the witness were to be harmed when he encouraged them to accompany him to Havendale under the guise that they would not be harmed.

"It was his job to deliver them," Taylor said.

He also told the jurors that Jones and St John were part of the common design, due to their alleged roles of holding Williams from behind and standing over him with what appeared to be a block.

Citing a video which was also extracted from a cellular phone said to be used by Kartel, Taylor told the jurors it was clear from the conversation that murder was on everyone's mind.

"They were in there talking about killing. Like killing a dog, or killing a goat, or killing a pig. They were talking about techniques of murder, which is the best way," he said.

Taylor closed his arguments by quoting Psalm 37 verse 13 and imploring the jury to come to a justifiable verdict.

"I will not ask you for a guilty verdict. Consider the evidence. Be true to your oath," he said.

When Taylor finished, the attorney representing Campbell, Miguel Lorne rose and immediately blasted Taylor's continued quotation

of Bible verses to drive home his point.

He mentioned the fact that Kartel had managed to attract a larger crowd than the iconic Nelson Mandela did when he lectured at the University of the West Indies.

"Whether we like it or not, there is something phenomenal about him," he said.

Lorne told the jury that outside of a man holding a pickaxe there was no act of violence in the video evidence.

"Don't let Mr Taylor pull the wool over your eyes. I am not going to tell you what to conclude, but let us analyse it," he said.

Lorne argued that the prosecution's star witness and Campbell were good friends and that the only time he smiled during his testimony was the morning he looked at Campbell and greeted him on his birthday.

"That was the only time his soul was free. He was otherwise under the yolk," Lorne said.

This drew a broad smile from Campbell and lit up some of the jurors' faces.

Lorne seized the moment and pointed out that with all the text message evidence there was none that implicated his client saying anything bad about Williams or the star witness.

He informed the jury that it was the right of accused persons under law to either give evidence under oath, give an unsworn statement or say nothing and ask them to consider the statements made by the accused to be the truth.

"If you think that it is true you must act on it. If you are in doubt, then that doubt must be in favour of the defence. Before you convict it must be beyond a reasonable doubt.

At that point, Lorne had the court in stitches when he asked three of the accused men to stand up.

"Kahira, stand up — I call him 'Black Gaza'. Shane, stand up — I call him 'Most Unfortunate'. André, stand up — I call him 'The Student'. I am encouraging him to get back in school when all this is over as he studies and is a computer whiz. I am asking you to send them home. This time it will be permanent," he said.

The trial has been adjourned until Monday as the court was informed that one of the jurors will be unable to attend court today.

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