Update: Buju Banton sentenced to 10 years
Laura Redpath and Damion Mitchell, Gleaner Writers
For Jamaican reggae superstar, Buju Banton, 38, and his support system, the roller coaster of case, as his lawyer described it, will continue.
Although unable to provide an exact time, Buju Banton’s lawyer David Oscar Markus told The Gleaner he intends to appeal the guilty verdict and the 10-year sentence very shortly.
“We won again and we still have work to do,” he said, referring to the appeal process.
The pleas of family and supporters: "It has never been drugs," Buju Banton's son wrote
US District Judge, James Moody imposed the sentence when Buju, whose real name is Mark Myrie, appeared in a Tampa Federal Courtroom this morning.
According to Markus, the appeal process could take a year and a half.
However, he also noted that Buju would only serve six years due to time already in and good time.
For fans who are still reeling from the verdict and the sentence, the possibility of successful appeals and Buju returning to Jamaica in six years or less is welcome news.
Buju was also sentenced to five years of probation; however, Markus said Buju cannot be given probation while in Jamaica.
The reggae icon, who has been in custody since his arrest in December 2009, could have had a mandatory minimum sentence imposed of 15 years to life in prison.
Buju was found guilty of conspiracy to possess with the intent to distribute cocaine, possession of a firearm in furtherance of a drug trafficking offense and using a telephone to facilitate a drug trafficking offense.
However, presiding judge James Moody threw out a gun charge today, lowering Banton's sentence from 15 years to 10.
More on today’s proceedings and Buju’s statement: Buju Banton gets lowest sentence legally allowed
Markus had submitted that federal sentencing guidelines call for a prison term of at least 15 years.
In a court filing, however, Buju’s lawyer David Oscar Markus told Judge Moody that a 15-year sentence would be way more than necessary in Buju’s case.
“We were very, very happy that the judge dismissed that count and got rid of five years,” Markus said. “We’re still sad and upset there are any convictions at all. (Buju) thanks everybody for being supportive, and he said not to forget about him and be hopeful."
For those who are still concerned about how Buju will be treated while serving prison time, the singer’s lawyer said Buju doesn’t have to cut his hair.
“It’s going be okay,” he said. “He’s going be treated with respect and dignity.”
Markus, who saw Buju last night, contended that Buju deserved a lower sentence because of his limited participation in the drug case, his charitable work in Jamaica and his otherwise clean record.
“Buju is an amazing person and I can see why so many people love him. He is strong, positive and that’s why we love him too," Markus said.
Buju will be held in a county jail for the next couple of days before being transported to the Miami Federal Prison to serve his time, while being close to his family.