Vybz Kartel appeal is moving forward but on Thursday his legal team hit a small snag when a judge declined to hear fresh evidence.
Lawyers representing Vybz Kartel, real name Adidja Palmer, Shawn “Storm” Campbell, Andre St John, and Kahira Jones were back in court on Thursday for their final case management hearing ahead of the July 9th appeal trial. The dancehall star’s legal team filed legal documents this month to introduce new evidence in the appeal case, however, Justice Morrison, the president of the Court of Appeal, declined to hear the application.
The judge instructed Bert Samuels to make the application directed to the three Court of Appeal judges who will preside over the case on July 9th. So this means that Vybz Kartel’s legal team will still have an opportunity to introduce fresh evidence to build their case to have the conviction overturn.
“We went before the president of the Court of Appeal this morning and pursuant to an order made by him that we should make the fresh evidence application at a later date,” Samuels said. “Last month the application came before him he rightly pointed out, the president, that this application should be made to a court, a court which in the Court of Appeal means three judges. Therefore, the application was further put off to be heard on the 9th of July, the first day of the hearing of the appeal, and therefore we look forward to making the application to the full three-man court.”
Although the judge declined to accept this new evidence filed by the legal team, Justice Morrison accepted a new ground filed by Shawn Storm’s attorney Michael Lorne. This is Shawn Storm’s 12th ground in his appeal to overturn his conviction. “We also managed to get the court to accept a late-filed ground by Shawn Campbell,” Samuels revealed. “His 12th ground was accepted today and orders were made for the prosecution to respond to the argument and grounds made by Shawn Campbell because in breach of the order, the prosecution had not yet given a response to the grounds filed by Shawn Campbell.”
Vybz Kartel and Shawn Storm filed 12 grounds for their appeal. In the court documents obtained by Urban Islandz, the defense team questioned the integrity of the cellphone evidence. During the highly controversial 2014 trial, Kartel lawyers argued in court that law enforcement tampered with the cellphones that they seized from Vybz Kartel so it should not be admitted into evidence. The judge ruled against them and admitted the cellphone evidence regardless.
The video evidence admitted in the trial is also being questioned in the appeal documents where the lawyers argued about the validity of the video. Bert Samuels also added that some evidence that was left out of the trial is crucial to their appeal.
Then there is a written statement by one of the witnesses that is now being questioned by Vybz Kartel’s legal team. Bert Samuels revealed that the prosecution is unable to cough up the original copy of the written statement and that a photocopy should not be admissible in court. “In any trial the prosecution must have ready the original statements,” Samuels said. “Witnesses can only be confronted with the original statement. If they are to be confronted with a photocopy they are to get the leave of the court.”
Vybz Kartel attorneys say they are feeling good about the appeal case as they have been working hard over the past few years to build a strong case. Still, it will be up to the three Court of Appeal judges to decide if they think the conviction should be overturned.
Vybz Kartel, Shawn “Storm” Campbell, Andre St John, and Kahira Jones were convicted in March 2014 and sent to prison for life. The four men have maintained their innocence.