Sat | Oct 23, 2021

All Jamaica knows Kartel didn’t get a fair trial, says lawyer

Published:Friday | April 3, 2020 | 12:08 AMChristopher Serju/Gleaner Writer
Vybz Kartel
Vybz Kartel

Controversial entertainer Vybz Kartel and his three murder co-convicts will be vindicated this morning when their appeal ruling is handed down, say two members of the high-level legal team representing the men.

All four men were sentenced to life imprisonment for the 2011 murder of Clive ‘Lizard’ Williams, with Justice Lennox Campbell directing that Kartel, whose real name is Adidja Palmer, serve a minimum of 35 years before being eligible for parole.

André St John, Shawn Campbell (also known as Shawn Storm), and Kahira Jones were also slapped with long sentences.

Williams was murdered amid a dispute over two guns on August 16, 2011, at a house in Havendale, St Andrew, but his body has never been found. Central to the prosecution’s case was the forensic evidence.

However, Valerie Neita Robertson, QC, said on Thursday that she was “consistently confident” about the outcome of today’s appeal based on her review of the trial transcripts.

“It was a lot of paperwork, lot of reading, and it is my considered view that Mr Palmer did not get a fair trial. What happened at that trial was a travesty of justice, and nobody in this country should support that,” Neita Robertson told The Gleaner.

“Give the man a fair trial, and if the verdict is guilty, it’s guilty, but don’t do what was done,” she added, before quipping that there was still recourse at the Privy Council, Jamaica’s court of last resort.

Bert Samuels, who is representing Campbell, was equally confident.

“Irrespective of the court’s decision, I think that Shawn Campbell has outstanding meritorious grounds of appeal, and we’re optimistic about the results,” he said.

Both attorneys insisted that the appeal team’s confidence was based on points of law, with Samuel citing geo-positioning discrepancies in relation to his client’s phone which indicated, he said, that he was not at the murder scene on the day in question.

“That singularly takes him away from the scene of the crime,” he argued, before calling into question a statement attributed to the jury foreman.

“The second was the allegation by the foreman of the jury that all members of the jury were being approached to give a certain verdict, rendering him unfit. That man was unfit to sit and deliberate with the jurors and come with an independent and impartial verdict, guaranteed by the Constitution,” Samuels added.

According to Neita Robertson, the issue is much more clear-cut.

“All of Jamaica knows what happened in the trial. They heard it every day in the news and in reports in the media, and we know he didn’t get a fair trial.

“Give him a fair trial. That is all that is being asked,” she said.

christopher.serju@gleanerjm.com