'Fair retrial not possible,' say Kartel's lawyers

February 15, 2024

Lawyers of incarcerated dancehall artiste, Adidja 'Vybz Kartel' Palmer, have argued before the UK-based Privy Council that a fair retrial of the entertainer's murder case would be impossible, given the high-profile nature of the case and the passage of time.

The argument was made as part of Kartel's and his three co-convicts, Shawn 'Shawn Storm' Campbell, Kahira Jones and Andre St John, appeal of their 2014 life-sentence for the murder of Clive 'Lizard' Williams.

The matter has been adjourned for the judges to consider their decision on the appeal following two days of oral submissions.

Much of the appeal has focused on the issue of whether Livingston Caine, who was found guilty of offering a $500,000 bribe to the jury forewoman to influence other jurors to return a not guilty verdict in the case, should have been dismissed from the panel.

Caine's dismissal would have meant the trial would have to be restarted. Attorney for the prosecution, King's Counsel Peter Knox, argued that it would have been very difficult to have a restart of the trial.

With the possibility, of the Privy Council judges ordering a retrial, should the appellants' arguments be accepted, King's Counsel Hugh Southey has said those challenges are even greater now.

"Those difficulties have not diminished, they have become greater because of passage of time. This is something that is now high profile. In our submission, that submission supports our argument that there is no point remitting this...because a fair trial is now very difficult, impossible, we would submit," Southey, who appeared on behalf of the appellants said.

Yesterday, another attorney for the appellants, Isat Buchanan, said they are pushing for the men's convictions to be quashed.

"There is no cure, no proviso or no thought of a retrial or a second bite of the apple," he stated.

Meanwhile, Southey also rejected the prosecution's argument that the fact that one of the accused in the case, Shane Williams, was acquitted shows that the jurors were not prejudiced against the defendants because of their knowledge that a bribe had been offered.

Southey argued that being biased does not always mean a person is bound to go in a particular direction, but that it could present a higher threshold to overcome.

He also said it was open to question whether a juror could remain impartial just because they are directed to remain objective, as there is always the likelihood of unconscious bias. 

Earlier, the attorney for the prosecution, Knox, argued that there was no risk that the verdict was influenced by bias as the evidence against the appellants was overwhelming.

He recounted the evidence against the convicts, such as Palmer's text that “we chop up Lizard fine fine and dash himnweh – as long as you live dem can never find him"

He also pointed to incriminating audio recording's of Kartel, the deceased's text messages and the fact that damage to Palmer's home, which is considered to be the site of the murder, were never reported.

He urged the Privy Council to consider the ruling by local appeal judges, who he said understand the Jamaican system.

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