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Kartel guilty - DJ, three others face life for 'Lizard' murder

Published:Friday | March 14, 2014 | 12:00 AM
In this 2010 file photo, Vybz Kartel, at Dancehall Night, Reggae Sumfest, donned his 'jail bird' uniform, and as part of the performance, is handcuffed by a supposedly hired police officer.
Police try to restrain a man who reportedly hit an officer with debris in downtown Kingston as persons waited on the verdict in the Vybz Kartel murder trial yesterday. - Jermaine Barnaby/Photographer

Barbara Gayle, Justice Coordinator

Entertainer Vybz Kartel and three other men were yesterday convicted in the Home Circuit Court of the murder of Clive 'Lizard' Williams and are to be sentenced on March 27.

The other accused, Shane Williams, who was represented by attorney-at-law Everton Dewar, was freed.

He was freed because there was one voice note which the witness said was his voice. However, the witness admitted that he had never spoken to him over the telephone before. Dewar, therefore, argued that the witness's testimony was not reliable.

The trial is said to be one of the longest in the region, lasting for 65 days. The men will be sentenced to life imprisonment and the judge will recommend how many years they will serve before they are eligible for parole. In the case of murder, the parole time can run to more than 15 years.

Kartel, whose real name is Adidja Palmer; along with fellow entertainer Shawn Storm, real name Shawn Campbell, Kahira Jones and Andre St John looked very surprised when the verdict was handed down.

Williams' sister, who was in court and was a witness in the case, wept when she heard the verdict.

The 11-member jury retired first for one hour and 53 minutes and on resumption said they were divided 10-1 in respect of Palmer.

Senior Deputy Director of Public Prosecution Jeremy Taylor and crown counsel Leighton Morris, who prosecuted the case, told the judge that the jury had returned before the two hour legal requirement for a majority verdict can be accepted.

The jury was sent back by Justice Lennox Campbell to hold further deliberations.

When they returned 10 minutes later they said by a majority verdict of 10-1 they had found the four men guilty and by unanimous verdict Williams not guilty.

The crown led evidence that on August 16, 2011, Williams was taken to Kartel's Havendale, St Andrew house where he was beaten to death over two missing guns.

His body has not been found but the prosecution relied on common design, circumstantial evidence, voice notes and text messages to prove the case against the men.

The court was shown a text message sent by Kartel which said that lizard was chopped up 'fine-fine'.

And in a voice note he was heard threatening to do harm if he did not get back his guns by the 8 p.m. on August 14, 2011.

Shawn Storm was said to be the one who transported Lizard and the prosecution's main witness to Kartel's house on August 16, 2011.

The main witness had testified that after Kartel questioned them about the missing guns it was Jones who grabbed Lizard from behind, and he, the witness, ran into a room.

He further said that when he ran from the room he saw Lizard laying motionless on the floor and St John with a building block in his hand.

The witness said he managed to escape from the house and jumped over a high wall.

Justice Campbell thanked the jurors for their serious approach to the case and the tremendous personal sacrifice they made.

He remarked that judges do not usually give comment on the outcome of a case but "I will say, you could not have done anything else on this evidence presented here".

Defence lawyers said the men will be appealing the case.