Tue | Oct 23, 2018

#VybzKartelAppeal | Confusion over damning text message; appeal court reserves decision

Published:Wednesday | July 25, 2018 | 12:00 AMLivern Barrett/ Senior Gleaner Writer

The Court of Appeal was yesterday directed to two other dates when the damning text message at the centre of the Vybz Kartel appeal could have been created.

The assertion came as legal arguments ended in the appeal filed by Kartel, his protege, Shawn Storm, and two other men against their convictions for murder and lengthy prison sentences.

The Court of Appeal reserved its decision.

"I am not about to indicate when we will make our decision, but we assure you that the matter will get some priority attention," said president of the Court of Appeal, Justice Dennis Morrison, pointing to the thousands of pages of documents filed in the case.

Isat Buchanan, of the attorneys for Shawn Storm, argued yesterday that there was evidence during the entertainer's murder trial that the damning BlackBerry messages was created August 23, 2011 and September 30, 2011.

"Between me and you a chop we chop up di bwoy Lizard fine fine and dash him weh," read the message lifted from Kartel's mobile phone, which prosecutors have asked the Court of Appeal to treat as an "admission to murder".

Buchanan's colleague, Bianca Samuels, who also represents Shawn Storm, asserted last week and insisted again yesterday that the message was created on July 6, 2011, six weeks before Clive 'Lizard' Williams was killed.

However, prosecutor Orrett Brown, in his response last Friday, said that this assertion represent a misunderstanding of the evidence used in the murder trial. According to Brown, the folder containing the message was created on July 6, 2011, but the message itself was created on August 19, 2011, three days after Williams' death.

Buchanan said it was this confusion over the date the message was created why it should not have been left to the 11-member jury to "sort it out."

"They don't have the expertise to do that. They are just ordinary men and women," he insisted.

Kartel, real name Adidja Palmer, and Shawn Storm, real name Shawn Campbell, were convicted in April 2014, along with Kahira Jones and AndrÈ St John, for killing Williams at a house in Havendale, St Andrew, in August 2011.

All four were given the mandatory life sentence, with Kartel ordered to serve 35 years before he is eligible for parole. Campbell, Jones and St John were each ordered to serve 25 years before they become eligible for parole.

Their attorneys argued, in nearly five days of legal submissions, that their right to a fair trial was prejudice by a number of factors, including the admission of "contaminated" evidence such as the BlackBerry message during the trial.

However, prosecutors have insisted that the integrity of the evidence used to convict the four men remain intact.

They have also asked the Appeal Court to find, in the alternative, that even if inadmissible evidence was included in the trial, it does not amounted to a miscarriage of justice, as there was at least 19 pieces of circumstantial evidence the jury could have used to reach the same verdict.