'Unfair trial' - Family says Ninja Man got raw deal
When Buju Banton turned up for his second trial in Tampa, Florida in 2011, prosecutor Jim Preston made it clear to the jury that the case was not about "Mark Myrie the entertainer but about Mark Myrie the drug dealer".
For Preston, it was important that the jury did not become caught up in the fact that Buju, only a day before the start of the trial, had won the Grammy for his Before the Dawn album.
Here in Jamaica, the trial of another entertainer, Ninja Man, concluded last week. While it was held in private, friends and relatives of the artiste feel that the man on trial was not Desmond Ballentyne but Ninja Man, the front teeth, gold teeth don gorgon.
PORTRAYED AS A BAD MAN
"He was portrayed, based upon his musical lyrics, to be a don gorgon or bad man," Gonzellio Ballentyne, Ninja Man's brother, said Tuesday, a day after he was convicted of murder in the Home Circuit Court.
The 51-year-old Ninja Man, who has had many previous brushes with the law, now faces the possibility of life imprisonment.
On Wednesday, Prezi, one of the artiste's close friends, said Ninja Man got a raw deal.
"This is just an affront by the government because crime is getting out of control. So because a person like Ninja Man is so powerful, they send him to prison. They are basically saying to the little youth that is firing gun, 'we can do worse to you'," Prezi reasoned.
Ninja Man, his son Janeil, and Dennis Clayton were convicted of murder by a seven-member jury. Ninja Man was also convicted of shooting with intent.
Clayton's father, Dennis Senior, said that he has been unable to sleep since he heard the verdict. "Mi can't even sleep cause a bare drink mi affi a drink cause right now mi feel hurt fi the wul a dem," the senior Clayton said.
He said that he and other family members were prevented from entering the courtroom to observe the trial.
"Mi did want guh inna di court go tell dem say dat gwaan and dat gwaan, but mi couldn't go in deh and my wife couldn't go in deh," he said.
"We want a retrial cause this one was unfair and if we ago get a new trial we affi go find money fi pay the lawyer fi go back on the case," he added.