Incarcerated Dancehall artists Vybz Kartel, Shawn Storm, and two other men have provisional dates set at the United Kingdom-based Privy Council, Jamaica’s final appellate court, in their bid to overturn their murder convictions.
According to Bert Samuels, the attorney for Shawn ‘Shawn Storm’ Campbell, the UK court has set tentative dates of April 16 through 18 in 2024 to hear the main arguments in the quartet’s appeal.
“This date is not permanent. It may be changed, but we’re happy to know that finally these matters will be heard by the highest court, the Privy Council….we hope that the appeal will be heard and that we will be victorious,” Samuels told IRIE FM on Tuesday (July 11).
Kartel, whose real name is Adidja Palmer, Shawn Storm, Kahira Jones and Andre St. John were all given life sentences in April 2014 for the 2011 murder of Clive ‘Lizard’ Williams, which prosecutors say, took place at the Fever deejay’s house in Havendale, St Andrew.
The Jamaica Court Of Appeal, which upheld their conviction in April 2020, later granted the four men permission to take their appeal to the Privy Council over their 2014 conviction and life sentences.
Two additional applications were subsequently made to the Privy Council to advance grounds for appeal that the Jamaica Court Of Appeal did not previously grant, including the introduction of fresh evidence that Kartel’s cellphone, which contained damning text and voice messages linking him to Lizard’s murder, had shown signs of tampering while in police custody.
The Privy Council denied the two applications on February 15, 2023, but the main arguments remain to be heard next year even though the new “evidence” won’t be admitted.
In addition to the cellphone evidence, prosecutors had relied on the sole eyewitness, Lamar “Wee” Chow, who made an account of the events that took place on August 16, 2011.
Wee testified that on that day, he had accompanied Shawn ‘Storm’ Campbell and Lizard (the deceased) to Kartel’s Havendale home, where they were summoned over missing firearms, which were referred to, in the damming cellphone messages, as “shoes.” Wee said Kartel, Andre St. John and Kahira Jones were already at the house.
According to Wee, while Kartel was questioning them about the guns, Jones held Lizard from behind while he (Wee) immediately ran into another room. He added that Kartel and Campbell forcibly brought him back to the room, where he saw Lizard lying motionless on his back, with Jones bending over him and St. John holding a concrete block in his hands.
Wee claimed that he feared for his safety, so he fled again, this time running from the house by climbing over a gate. He testified that he was chased by Kartel, who later assured him that he had nothing to worry about. However, instead of returning to the house, Wee said he accompanied Kartel to a hospital where he was treated for a dog bite that the deejay had received during the chase.
Kartel’s defense questioned Wee’s credibility during the original trial and cited his inconsistent account of the events, including a purported letter by Wee to a Public Defender which stated that he saw Lizard after August 16, 2011, and that the police had pressured him to give a conflicting statement.
Kartel was given 35 years before being eligible for parole before it was reduced to 32 years and six months following an appeal that upheld the conviction.
St John, who had to serve 30 years before being eligible for parole, had his time shaved down to 27 years and six months.
Shawn Storm and Jones, who had to serve 25 years before being eligible, had theirs reduced to 22 years and six months.