THE wife of a police inspector and at least one man who works at the Jamaica Defence Force (JDF) were among a panel of 11 jurors, who, in 2014, convicted entertainer Vybz Kartel and three other men of murder, it emerged yesterday.
The revelation was made in the Corporate Area Resident Magistrate’s Court as attorney Valerie Neita-Robertson cross-examined the JDF worker, Dennis Brown, on the first day of the trial of Livingston Cain — the member of the Vybz Kartel jury who has been charged with six counts of perverting the course of justice and one count of conspiring to pervert the course of justice.
The charges stem from allegations that between the start of the murder trial in the Home Circuit Court on November 18, 2013 and the rendering of a verdict in the matter in March 2014, Cain tried to persuade his fellow jurors to return a verdict of not guilty and even offered the jury forewoman $500,000 for a result in favour of Vybz Kartel and his co-accused.
Vybz Kartel (Adidja Palmer), Shawn ‘Shawn Storm’ Campbell, Andre St John, and Kahira Jones were convicted in the high-profile case, while a fifth man — Shane Williams — was acquitted. The convicted men were sentenced to life imprisonment. They are currently appealing the case.
Yesterday, Brown, the first witness called by the prosecution, testified in his examination-in-chief that Cain told him in a conversation in his (Brown’s) car that the Crown had no case and that they were “telling ‘pare’ lies” and “we should not listen to them”.
He testified that Cain told him that the accused men were prominent entertainers. Brown said he told Cain it was early days yet and that what he “heard so far” wouldn’t be sufficient for him (Brown) to say whether Kartel and his co-accused were guilty.
He testified that in January 2014, Cain again approached him and told him to set the accused men free. He said Cain told him that he wanted to “talk to him on a big man level”. Cain, on that occasion, he said, told him to “set these men free”, because “they are young men with a bright future and they are prominent entertainers”.
Said Brown: “I said to him that I don’t care who they are, I will be true to the oath that I took and that I will give a verdict accordingly. I also said that whether they are pastors or anybody, it doesn’t matter. Mr Cain said, ‘OK, boss, I hear you’,” Brown testified.
Under cross-examination, Brown, who gave his occupation as an artisan supervisor when he first took the witness stand, disclosed that he worked with the JDF. Neita-Robertson asked if he knew that soldiers were exempt from serving as jurors, Brown replied that he is a civilian.
The attorney asked him about another member of the jury panel, Gutsmore Lorde, whom she said worked at the JDF and told him that he knew Lorde from there. But Brown said that this was “absolutely ridiculous”.
Questioned further, Brown said he knew Lorde from the Vybz Kartel trial and by the occupation, a tailor, he gave the court.
He, however, said he knew that a juror was the wife of a police inspector. Neita-Robertson asked him if he knew that the inspector was working at the court doing crowd control, Brown said no. She suggested to him that Cain raised the issue but he said he doesn’t know of it.
He also denied the suggestion that he asked the female juror to ask her inspector husband to help with the release of his vehicle that had been seized.
Brown also denied the suggestion that he gave Cain a lift in his vehicle.
Brown’s cross-examination continues today.