Popular dancehall artiste Vybz Kartel and his three co-accused have officially applied to appeal their sentences at the Privy Council in the United Kingdom.
Adidja Palmer, Vybz Kartel’s government name, was convicted in 2014 of the murder of Clive “Lizard” Williams” three years prior. He was convicted alongside, Shawn “Storm” Campbell, Kahira Jones and Andre St. John. The trial was the pinnacle of media at the time as Kartel’s notorious fans, the Gaza, begged for him to be acquitted of the charge. The trial lasted for a pain-staking 65 days, the longest in Jamaica’s criminal courts’ history. During that time, the prosecution presented faulty evidence that was allegedly tampered with by police.
This included eyewitness testimony from Lenard Chow, who claimed that the killing took place on August 16, 2011. He cited missing firearms as the cause. He first stated that he witnessed the ordeal and saw Lizard’s lifeless body, but soon after, he changed his statements claiming that he never saw the body of Lizard. There were also allegations that police tampered with Kartel’s cellphone while it was in custody. The text messages retrieved from his phone were a key factor in his conviction. The text allegedly stated, “Tween me an u a chop we chop up the bwoy Lizard fine fine. Yeah man a mincemeat dat… As long as u live dem can never find him.”
There was also a voice recording that was leaked to the public, which was said to be the voice of the Teacha. “Dem cyan find two of mi shoes wey dem have… Mi a kill one of dem,” the individual states. The word “shoes” is the codeword for guns. There was also talk surrounding the bribery of members of the jury. This was later proven to be true, as it was confirmed that one of the jurors in the case attempted to coax another juror by giving him half a million dollars.
Despite all these factors, Vybz Kartel and the other co-accused were sentenced to life in prison. Fans were distraught and heartbroken, and many blamed the government, stating that their dislike of Vybz Kartel and dancehall music led to his arrest and subsequent conviction. Seeing that Kartel was already in prison due to a marijuana charge in 2011, he would merely continue his sentence with the time he added.
Sadly, in April of this year, Kartel and his co-accused had their appeals unanimously denied by The Court of Appeal. Judges Frank Williams, Dennis Morrison, and Patrick Brooks gave the announcement on April 3rd via phone while Kartel’s lawyer live-streamed the event to the public. Their convictions remained, but their initial sentence was reduced by two and a half years due to consideration of the time they spent in prison prior to sentencing.