The Appeal Court Overturns Vbyz Kartel’s Murder Conviction

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Jamaican dancehall sensation Vybz Kartel has seen his murder conviction overturned by a London court due to concerns regarding jury tampering. The court ruled that attempts by a juror to bribe fellow jurors had rendered the conviction unsafe. Kartel, born Adidja Palmer, has been incarcerated in Jamaica since 2011 in connection with the disappearance of his associate Clive “Lizard” Williams, whose body remains undiscovered.

Kartel and three co-defendants were convicted in Kingston three years later following a lengthy trial, resulting in Kartel receiving a life sentence with a minimum of 35 years. However, last month, Kartel and his associates filed an appeal at the Privy Council in London, the ultimate court of appeal in Jamaica and some other Commonwealth nations.

The appeal centered on the trial judge’s handling of allegations that a juror had attempted to sway others to return not guilty verdicts. These claims emerged on the final day of the 2014 trial, presenting the judge with a dilemma. With one juror discharged earlier, continuing with only 10 jurors was not feasible. The judge faced the choice of proceeding with 11 jurors, including the one accused of bribery, or dismissing the jury entirely, potentially leading to a retrial. Opting to continue with 11 jurors, the judge made a critical decision.

In London, Judge Lord Lloyd-Jones deemed the juror’s retention on the jury “fatal to the safety of the convictions.” He criticized the inadequacy of the instructions provided to the jury regarding the issue on the final day. Furthermore, Lord Lloyd-Jones highlighted the trial judge’s failure to assess the potential influence on the remaining jurors and the associated risks.

The Court of Appeal in Jamaica will now determine whether Kartel and his co-defendants will face a retrial. Kartel’s prominence in the dancehall genre is undeniable, characterized by prolific output and often controversial, explicit lyrics. He has collaborated with global icons such as Jay-Z, Rihanna, and Busta Rhymes, with the latter showing support by attending the final day of Kartel’s 2014 trial.

Despite his incarceration, Kartel continued to release new music from his cell using a smartphone and co-authored a book titled “The Voice of the Jamaica Ghetto.” However, legal troubles persisted. Last year, another murder case against Kartel collapsed due to insufficient evidence linking him and two others to the killing of businessman Barrington “Bossy” Burton in 2011.

 

 

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