Retired High Court judge Justice Lennox Campbell gave the green light for “contaminated” exhibits to be included in the Vybz Kartel murder trial, and this triggered a domino effect that was prejudicial to the entertainer and his three co-accused, an attorney has argued.
Among the “contaminated exhibits” used as evidence in the 17-week trial, according to Robert Fletcher, the attorney for Kahiro Jones – one of the three men convicted of murder along with Kartel – were the messages and a video recording lifted from the entertainer’s mobile phone.
“The contamination was acknowledged, accepted, and unexplained,” said Fletcher as he made his case before the Court of Appeal yesterday to have his client’s conviction and prison sentence overturned.
“Once the learned trial judge admitted the exhibits that were contaminated, there was no way he could correct it in his summation [to the jury],” added Fletcher.
His assertion came after Valerie Neita-Robertson, Kartel’s lead attorney, pointed to evidence presented during the trial that the dancehall artiste was being treated at Andrews Memorial Hospital, in St Andrew, at 7:48 p.m. on the day Clive ‘Lizard’ Williams was killed at a house in Havendale, also in St Andrew.
According to Neita-Robertson, this challenges the veracity of cell tower information produced by police experts. Inspector Warren Williams, who heads the Police Cybercrimes Division, testified that cell tower information showed that Kartel’s mobile phone was operating in Havendale at 7:52 p.m.
Further, Neita-Robertson cited the testimony of the main prosecution witness that he arrived at the house at 8:00 p.m., and that after the events he witnessed there, he took Kartel to the hospital close to 9 p.m.
“It [the evidence that Kartel was at Andrews at 7:48 p.m.] would mean that Mr Palmer would not be at the house when this [Williams’ death] happened,” Neita-Robertson told the Appeal Court as she wrapped up her submissions yesterday.
Fletcher indicated that he was still trying to understand Campbell’s decision to admit the “contaminated” telephonic exhibit into evidence “then ask the jurors to determine if it was contaminated”.
“I can’t find words to describe it. What skills do they have that would allow them to make such a decision?” he questioned.
Jeremy Taylor, senior deputy director of public prosecutions, who, along with Orrett Brown and Syleen O’Gilvie are representing the prosecution, will respond to the submissions on Friday.
Kartel, whose real name is Adidja Palmer, was convicted in April 2014, along with his protegÈ, Shawn Storm, real name Shawn Campbell, as well as Jones and Andre St John, for killing Williams.
They were all given the mandatory life sentence, with Kartel ordered to serve 35 years before he is eligible for parole. Campbell, Jones, and St John were ordered to each serve 25 years before they become eligible for parole.