Vybz Kartel case: Court overturns conviction

The UK's Privy Council quashed Jamaican artist Vybz Kartel's murder conviction on Thursday sending the case to a lower court to decide whether to retry the dancehall icon.

His attorney Isat Buchanan told FOX 5 NY's Lisa Evers that the next step is a date with the court of appeals in Jamaica.

"A huge statement was made by the quashing of the murder convictions and that is where we are at. Yesterday Mr. Palmer was a convicted felon, today he is an innocent man," Buchanan said.

Vybz Kartel, whose real name is Adidja Palmer, will remain incarcerated for the time being. He -- along with Shawn Campbell, Kahira Jones and Andre St John -- were convicted in 2014 for the 2011 murder of Clive "Lizard" Williams.


During the 2014 murder trial, a juror had allegedly attempted to bribe others by offering $500,000 JMD for a particular outcome in the case. Despite the allegations, the trial continued, and Vybz was convicted, according to the Privy Council. On Thursday, the council ruled that the conviction should be quashed on the grounds of juror misconduct.

"The Judicial Committee of the Privy Council has concluded that the appeals should be allowed and the appellants’ convictions should be quashed on the ground of juror misconduct, and that the case should be remitted to the Court of Appeal of Jamaica to decide whether to order a retrial of the appellants for the murder of the deceased," a Privy Council statement read.

Why is Vybz Kartel jailed?

Adidja Palmer is known to millions of fans around the world as entertainer Vybz Kartel. The incarcerated Jamaican Dancehall star has been behind bars for more than a decade on a murder he claims he did not commit. 

After a lengthy process, the Privy Council in London is scheduled to finally rule on the appeal of Palmer and his three co-defendants. 

Where is Vybz Kartel right now?

They've been behind bars since 2011 for the murder of Clive "Lizard" Williams – whose body was never found – and were convicted in 2014. Palmer has maintained his innocence. His conviction came from a mostly circumstantial case based on video and phone records from his BlackBerry Torch and a discredited witness.

"The Court of Appeal in Jamaica, they prepared three particular questions for the board to consider it concerns their telecommunications evidence, jury management issues, and an additional one for jury tampering," Buchanan said.

FOX 5 NY reported some of the findings of a British forensic expert who reviewed the case, and found serious questions about phone evidence, among other issues, during the 65-day trial. 

"So when there is a gap in the footprint, for instance, the video did not have any GPS on it and all other videos on the phone had GPS, had the metadata and the epoch times in sequence," Buchannan said.

Vybez Kartel during HOT 97's

Vybz Kartel during HOT 97's "On The Reggae Tip" Live - September 2, 2005 at Hammerstein Ballroom in New York City, New York. (Photo by John Ricard/FilmMagic)

In his detailed report, digital forensic expert David John Martin-Woodgate found that the video prosecutors claimed had put Palmer at the scene of the crime also had a timestamp that was different from the inalterable embed time.

Another issue was timing. Buchanan filed for an expedited hearing given Kartel's health issues, which include Graves disease and a heart condition.

Buchanan said the report helped convince the United Kingdom's highest court, the Privy Council, to review Kartel's appeal. 

"I'm very happy and optimistic about being before the Privy Council. It is the final court and justice is for all," Buchanan said.

Exclusive interview with Vybz Kartel's son

FOX 5 NY's Lisa Evers spoke exclusively with Kartel's son, Adidja Jaheim Palmer, known as Likkle Vybz, when his family fought to get him basic sanitary conditions and access to doctors for him as he awaited his appeal. He said they are keeping the faith his father will get better. 


Vybz Kartel's son, Adidja Jahiem Palmer, known as Likkle Vybz.

"It weighs on my heart, I think about it a lot, but honestly, we just have to stay strong and know he is doing the best he can," Likkle Vybz said.

Likkle Vybz said he and his family thank all the fans for keeping his father in the prayers. 

Buchanan had visited Kartel in prison before leaving for London, and says he's hopeful, and despite everything, still has faith in the court system, and that justice will prevail. 

"In terms of Mr. Palmer, he's hanging in there, in terms of, at best both the private physician and the physicians from the government are doing their best with the reality of how best to manage his treatment," Buchanan said.