Vybz Kartel, Murder Conviction, overturned, juror, jury, life sentence, London, gun, privy court, 32 years, life sentence

Jamaican Dancehall Icon Vybz Kartel Has Murder Conviction Overturned

Dancehall king Vybz Kartel received his first legal win in years after getting his murder conviction overturned.

Dancehall king Vybz Kartel received his first legal win in years, after getting his murder conviction overturned.

On March 14, Vybz (real name Adidja Azim Palmer) had a successful appeal with the Privy Council in London over a juror, accused of trying to bribe others, who should have been thrown off his trial, BBC reports. Now it’s up to authorities in Jamaica to decide whether or not the case will be retried.

Kartel, 48, was sentenced to life in prison in 2014 for the 2011 murder of Clive “Lizard” Williams on the Caribbean island. He was given life imprisonment with a minimum of 35 years, which was later reduced to 32 and a half years following a successful appeal.

The “Romping Shop” musician is one of Jamaica’s most popular artists, with hits like “Clarks” and “Summer Time” and collaborations with Jay-Z and Rihanna. Many were shocked over his conviction, which followed a 64-day trial—one of the longest in the country’s history.

During the trial it was revealed that two victims, Clive Williams and Lamar Chow, were given two unlicensed firearms that belonged to Kartel for safekeeping. When they failed to return the firearms, they were summoned to Kartel’s home, in August 2011 where Chow testified that they were tortured before his last sight being Williams, who was never seen alive again, lying motionless on the ground.

Kartel’s home was burned down days later; Williams’ body was never recovered. The dancehall artist, along with his co-defendants Shawn Campbell, Kahira Jones, and Andre St John, maintained their innocence.

An appeal hearing that took place last month was their last chance to reverse the verdict. A panel of justices argued that a juror accused of trying to bribe jury members was never taken off the case and was allowed to have a say in the final verdict.

Allowing the juror to stay was “fatal to the safety of the convictions which followed” and “an infringement of the [defendants’] fundamental right to a fair hearing,” the justices said.

Elsewhere, they argued that the jurors were sent to reach a verdict late in the day, which put them under “undue pressure.” They also said that a text message allegedly sent from Kartel’s phone, which served as a key piece of evidence during the trial, had been obtained in breach of guidelines.

While Kartel’s guilty verdict has not been overturned, his overturned murder charge could help him see an earlier than expected release.

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