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Kartel's lawyers remain optimistic

Associate Editor —
Auto & Entertainment

Saturday, April 04, 2020

LEGAL counsel for Vybz Kartel, attorney-at-law Tom Tavares-Finson QC, remains optimistic despite yesterday's dismissal of the entertainer's attempt to have his murder conviction overturned in the Court of Appeal, downtown Kingston.

“We had hoped for the best and expected this, exactly what we have gotten. We know that we must move on to the next stage, which is to apply for leave to go to the Privy Council,” Tavares-Finson told the Jamaica Observer.

“We feel that if we go to the Privy Council, we can get justice there. Just now, I'm looking at the judgement with a view to making that move,” he continued.

Vybz Kartel was also represented by high-profile attorney-at-law Valerie Neita-Robertson, QC.

The appeal was filed in 2018.

According to Tavares-Finson, the ruling is part of a journey towards the next phase of legal wranglings.

“It is something that we have expected for a number of months and we began preparing ourselves mentally for it... It's a hurdle we have to cross before going elsewhere, so we cross the hurdle and move on,” he said.

Yesterday, judges Frank Williams, Dennis Morris, and Patrick Brooks handed down the 235-page judgement to uphold the 2014 conviction.

“Our conclusion is that, save in one respect, the sentences imposed by the judge in this case cannot be said to have been excessive to such an extent as to call for this court's intervention... But we are quite satisfied that, on the facts found by the jury to have been proven in this case, the sentences fell comfortably with the range of sentences for murder established by the previous cases. In our view, the aggravating factors identified by the judge in his sentencing remarks -- the planning, the premediation, the elevated amount of mental stress caused and threats made to the deceased, the concealment of the body and the attempts to destroy evidence -- far outweigh the mitigating factors upon which the appellants rely,” the judgement read in part.

Vybz Kartel (given name Adidja Palmer), Shawn “Shawn Storm” Campbell, Kahira Jones, and Andre St John were convicted in April 2014 for murdering Clive “Lizard” Williams in 2011.

Kartel and his co-convicts denied the allegations but were convicted by a jury panel during the 17-week trial.

Vybz Kartel, Jones, St John, and Campbell received life sentences. The entertainer should be eligible for parole after serving 35 years. He is currently at the St Catherine Adult Correctional Facility.

Despite being incarcerated, he continues to record music and retains a high level of popularity among dancehall fans.