KINGSTON — Vybz Kartel flashed a wide smile as Justice Sykes ruled that statements given by the prosecution’s two main witnesses against him and his co-accused were inadmissible in their murder trial.
Nigel Thompson, one of two co-accused in the matter, exclaimed, “Yes, Jah!”, when he was led outside the courtroom, his hands cuffed behind him.
The third accused, Lenburgh McDonald, smiled at the ruling and bowed his head in an apparent bid to conceal his enthusiasm. As Kartel and Thompson were being cuffed to be led away, McDonald — by now wide-eyed and beaming — spoke with his attorney Michael Deans from the prisoner’s dock in the Number One courtroom in the Home Circuit Court.
They all know the significance of Sykes’ ruling; so, too, did those who gathered outside the hulking court building on King Street in downtown Kingston. The significance of the ruling was also not lost on the prisoners in the court’s holding area whose cheerful shouts echoed throughout the building.
After handing down his ruling, Sykes remarked: “The trial continues tomorrow [today] when we see what happens.”
The prosecution’s case hinged on the statements given by the two witnesses. Now, with Skyes barring the statements from being entered into evidence under section 31(D) of the Evidence Act, the only option for the prosecution is to offer no further evidence, in which case the jury will be asked by the judge to enter a formal verdict of not guilty, setting the men free.
Even so, the artiste will remain behind bars, as he and five other co-accused are scheduled to face another murder trial in November.
Kartel, whose real name is Adidjah Palmer, Thompson and McDonald are being tried for the July 12, 2011 shooting death of Portmore, St Catherine, resident Barrington Bossie Bryan.
The jury started hearing evidence in the matter last week Monday. They were sent home the following day as the prosecution started making its application for the statements to be entered into evidence on the ground that the witnesses could not be located.
However, the application was stoutly contested by Deans, Tom and Chris Tavares-Finson (who represent Kartel) and Tamika Harris, who represents Thompson. The thrust of the opposition was that the prosecution didn’t take sufficient steps, in keeping with the requirements of the Act, to locate the witnesses.
Yesterday, Sykes sided with the defence, finding that the prosecution didn’t make “sufficient” effort to find the men.
Among the crowd of mostly women that gathered on the Barry and Tower streets sides of the court building was Kartel’s Portmore Empire stablemate Gaza Slim.
“I’m feeling superb,” Slim, whose real name is Vanessa Saddler, told the Jamaica Observer while professing her love for Kartel. “My prayers have not gone in vain.”
On the Tower Street side of the court, fans of the artiste chanted “Free Kartel”. Some used the artiste’s other moniker “Worl’ Boss”.
“We think him fi free,” said Melissa Campbell. “Dem nuh have nuh evidence against him.” (Observer)