Jury unable to reach unanimous verdict – Buju trial

BANTON... fate in jurors’ hands

TAMPA, USA — A second anxiety-filled day has ended without jurors reaching a verdict in the cocaine trial of Reggae artiste Buju Banton. The jurors resumed their deliberations yesterday morning about 9:50 Tampa time after being unable to reach a verdict on Thursday.

Yesterday afternoon, anxious supporters appeared weighed down, some with their shoulders slumped, as the news was delivered by a worker at the Sam M Gibbons Court that no decision had been reached.

The development will mark a long weekend for Banton’s many supporters who turned up at court and the many worldwide who have been on edge since the jurors started their deliberations in the trial that opened on Monday.

David Oscar Markus, the attorney representing Banton, whose given name is Mark Myrie, said he did not know what to make of the length of time it’s taking the jurors to reach a decision. However, the defence team remained optimistic.

“We are just trying to stay positive and hope it will turn out OK,” Markus told the Observer.

“We believe that there are jurors fighting for him, and we hope they stay strong,” Markus added.

The jurors’ verdict has to be unanimous. They will continue deliberations Monday morning at 8:45.

The jurors yesterday resumed their deliberations after receiving further instructions from Judge Jim Moody when they inquired as to whether or not a crime was committed on December 10, 2009 when Banton’s two former co-accused, Ian Thomas and James Mack, were held in a sting operation purchasing five kilograms of cocaine at a warehouse.

Moody told the jurors that a crime had been committed.  “Your job is to decide whether or not Mr Myrie was involved in that crime,” Moody told the jurors.

Banton was arrested at his Tamarac, Florida home that same day and charged with conspiracy to possess and distribute the illicit drugs. He was also jointly charged with possession of a weapon during the commission of a crime, given that Mack had a gun when he was arrested.

Banton could be sentenced to life if found guilty and fined millions of dollars.

Thomas and Mack have since pleaded guilty and will be sentenced in November.

The prosecution is contending that Banton had conspired with the men to distribute the drugs. But the artiste’s legal team is contending that he was entrapped by the Government.

Yesterday, supporters of the Jamaican Reggae artiste filed out of the court building after a long day’s wait, some looking dejected.

They however continued asking fans worldwide to pray for the artiste’s release.

Singer Wayne Wonder, a longtime friend who has recorded numerous hit singles with Banton, yesterday said that the Banton was not guilty of the charges against him.

“We have to believe because we know that the crime they charge him for that’s not him. Buju sells music, that’s what he sells,” the singer told the Observer.

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