Freedom near for Kartel? - Lawyers say victory is on the horizon

July 10, 2018
In this 2011 photo, Adijah Palmer, more popularly known as Vybz Kartel, is surrounded by members of the security forces.
Bert Samuels
Valerie Neita-Robertson.
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Defence attorney Bert Samuels is predicting that the Court of Appeal will free Vybz Kartel, Shawn Storm and their co-convicts, Kahira Jones and Andre St John.

"We believe that victory is on the horizon,” Samuels said yesterday after the Court of Appeal allowed for fresh evidence to be admitted at the appeal.

Kartel, whose given name is Adidja Palmer, and Shawn Storm, whose given name is Shawn Campbell, were convicted of murder in 2014, along with Kahiro Jones and André St John, for killing Clive ‘Lizard’ Williams at a house in Havendale, St Andrew, in 2011.

They were all given the mandatory sentence of life in prison, with Kartel ordered to serve 35 years before he is eligible for parole. Campbell, Jones and St John were each ordered to serve 25 years before they became eligible for parole.

Among the new evidence the attorneys lobbied for was the handwritten statement that the main prosecution witness gave police investigators on August 24, 2011, eight days after Williams was killed.

Samuels said that the Witness, in the statement, indicated that he arrived at the Havendale premises at 8 p.m. on the day Williams was killed. But Samuels said while giving evidence during the trial, the witness “was very definitive about arriving at Havendale between 5 p.m. and 5:30 p.m.”

The hearing, which was scheduled for three weeks, has been reduced to one week and is scheduled to resume next Monday.

“We got four applications, four pieces of evidence brought in this appeal… We think that this is a great day for justice in Jamaica and we are looking forward to the appeal continuing on Monday morning.”

Samuels also pointed to what he considers as scandalous by the prosecution.

He said: “A response from the DPP, 140 pages of arguments and the DPP has made one and a half page of response. That to me is telling, it shows that they have no response to what we have put forward before this Court of Appeal.”

Meanwhile, neither Kartel nor his fellow convicts turned up at the Court of Appeal yesterday for the eagerly-anticipated hearing. However, Valarie Neita-Robertson, Kartel's lawyer, said "it is not necessary" for him to have been in court.

"He knows the grounds we are arguing, everybody has got a copy of it so they are fully aware of what we are doing. They have had an input in it as well,” the senior lawyer said.

“I believe Mr Palmer is very anxious and he prefers not to be here, so we give him that option,"  Neita-Robertson said.

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