Jamaica’s Court of Appeal has reduced the time that dancehall artiste Vybz Kartel and his three co-convicts must serve before becoming eligible for parole.
Two and a half years has been shaved off the deejay’s lengthy sentence after the appellate court found an oversight in the trial judge’s ruling.
Kartel, whose real name is Adidja Palmer, must now serve at least 32 years and 6 months instead of the 35 years minimum he was sentenced to serve for the murder of his associate Clive ‘Lizard’ Williams.
Dancehall artiste Shawn Storm, whose real name is Shawn Campbell, and Kahira Johns will now serve 22 years and six months, while Andre St John will serve 27 years and six months.
Vybz Kartel has been in custody since September 29, 2011, and will now be eligible for parole in the year 2046.
The four men were convicted in April 2014 for the murder of Williams at Kartel’s former home in Havendale, St Andrew, Jamaica. Lawyers for the convicts had argued in their appeal that the life sentences handed down in the original trial were excessive. They also called into question the integrity and admissibility of the evidence in the case as well as the conduct of the original trial judge, Justice Lennox Campbell.
After serving almost 6 years for that crime, the appeal was dismissed by the Court of Appeal on April 3. The three-member Appeal’s Court indicated that they would address the matter of sentencing at a later date and asked Kartel’s attorneys for additional information.
In the decision handed down on April 17, the Court of Appeal ruled that the sentences imposed by Justice Campbell “cannot be said to have been excessive to such an extent as to call for this court’s intervention”.
Kartel’s lawyers have said they will be taking the matter to the Privy Council in the United Kingdom, Jamaica’s highest appellate court.