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Buju trial
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Collected news and updates on the Mark Myrie aka Buju Banton trial: [bujutrial.blogspot.com]

***

Joulukuusta asti Floridassa vangittuna olleen Mark Myrien aka Buju Bantonin oikeudenkäynti alkoi vihdoinkin eilen.

[www.jamaicaobserver.com] :

TAMPA, United States — A 14 member panel of jurors was selected for the trial of Reggae singer Buju Banton in the Gibbons US Court in downtown Tampa this morning. The jury includes seven woman and only two African Americans.

Several jurors were excused because they expressed the view that marijuana should be made legal for medicinal purposes. However, Banton's lawyer David Oscar Markus, said he was satisfied with the make up of the jury.

Banton walked into court a few minutes before the proceedings started in a sports coat and black pants. His locks were caught up in a ponytail and his beard appeared well-groomed.

Six of his relatives and members of his band were also in court. Before the proceedings got underway, they held hands and sent up a prayer. There are also persons who have travelled from Jamaica and Los Angeles to support the artiste.

Banton is charged with conspiracy to possess with intent to distribute five or more kilograms of cocaine. His two co-defendants Ian Thomas and James Mack, have signed plea agreements and agreed to testify against him in exchange for lesser sentences.

The prosecution intends to call nine witnesses in a bid to secure a conviction against the artiste, who is registered as Mark Anthony Myrie.

Banton was arrested at his Tamarac home in South Florida in December, the same day Mack and Thomas were held attempting to buy cocaine from federal agents in a police controlled warehouse in Saratoga.

If found guilty Banton could be slapped with a sentence of 20 years to life and a fine of up to US$4 million.

The court is now in recess and evidence is expected to be presented when the trial resumes at 1:30 this afternoon.

***

[southfloridalawyers.blogspot.com] (sis.jury instuctions pdf)

Case: [news.yahoo.com]



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Re: Buju trial
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DEA agent testifies in Buju's favour: Says he has no evidence reggae singer is a drug dealer

TAMPA, Florida — Drug Enforcement Agent Daniel McCeaffrey, today testified that he had no evidence that Reggae singer Buju Banton, was involved in illicit drug dealing.

McCeaffrey, who gave evidence on the first day of the trial at the Gibbons US Federal Court in downtown Tampa, said there was no evidence that Buju Banton — whose real name is Mark Myrie — received any money from any drug deal.

He also said even though he was investigating Banton for a year, he could find no evidence that the artiste had collected any money from drug dealing.

He made the revelation during cross-examination from Banton's attorney David Markus.

Markus, in his opening salvo, told the 14-member panel of jurors that he would prove that Myrie was not a drug trafficker and had never invested in illicit drug dealing. He said that artiste would waive his right not to testify.

"He's got nothing to hide because the truth is on his side in this case," Markus said.

He said his client's big mistake was that he loved to talk. Markus said Myrie met DEA informant Alexander Johnson, a Colombian national, on a flight from Madrid Spain to Florida last year and during conversation Johnson introduced the subject of drug dealing to him.

He said Myrie had in fact tasted cocaine but that did not qualify him as a drug dealer.

Markus also argued that Myrie did not know about the US$130,000 that his co-defendant James Mack had been held with. The money he said was given to Mack by two men identified as 'Ike' and 'Tike' from Atlanta, Georgia.

The attorney said Mack and Ian Thomas were the ones who were dealing drugs and said his client made a decision not to partake in any deal and went to his Tamarac home in Florida, where he was arrested in December last year.

Mack and Thomas have taken plea deals and have agreed to testify against the artiste. All three are charged with conspiracy to possess with intent to distribute five or more kilogrammes of cocaine. The charge carries a sentence of 20 years to life and a fine of up to US$4 million.

Prosecutor Jim Preston argued that he would prove that Myrie is a known drug dealer who invested in multi-million dollar drug enterprises and he was arrested because he was starting a new venture.

Forensic chemist Alexandra Gongra also gave evidence that the substance that Thomas and Mack were arrested with was cocaine.

Telephone records analyst Donnie Godshoal also gave evidence today.

Dozens of Banton's supporters turned up outside the court to show their solidarity with the four time Grammy nominee.

His former manager Donovan Germaine, VP Records President Chris Chin and Deejay Delly Ranks were also present for the trial.

[www.jamaicaobserver.com]



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[www.jamaicaobserver.com]:

TAMPA, USA — THE first day of the cocaine trial of Jamaican reggae superstar ‘Buju Banton’ ended with what the artiste’s lawyers and supporters described as a good day.

The tension in the air during the morning session of the trial at the Gibbons US Court was all gone when court adjourned for the day, some minutes after four yesterday afternoon.

The many Jamaicans — musicians included — and supporters of varying nationalities who travelled from as far as Los Angeles for the trial, expressed relief after the prosecution’s first witnesses gave evidence.

What made them especially confident of Banton’s innocence and that he was set up, was the evidence of Drug Enforcement Agent Daniel McCaffrey, the man who led the investigations into the allegations of drug trafficking against the artiste, whose given name is Mark Anthony Myrie.

“To me, the case sounds weak,” Gramps Morgan from the Reggae group Morgan Heritage told the Observer.

At the end of the proceedings, an equally confident David Markus, Banton’s attorney, seemed more upbeat.

“We had a very good first day,” Markus told the Observer. “We feel very good. The truth is on our side. Buju is innocent.”

McCaffrey’s evidence excited and gave hope to Banton’s legal team and his supporters as the agent said during cross examination that after a year of investigation he had no evidence that the artiste was a drug dealer.

“You had to go by the word of an informant?” Markus asked, to which McCaffrey answered “correct”.

He also said that there was no recorded evidence that there was any agreement for the artiste to benefit from the sale of the drugs for which he and two other men were busted last year December, nor that the US$130,000 that was seized during the bust was supplied by Banton.

In fact, McCaffrey agreed that the money brought from the state of Georgia by James Mack to purchase the five kilogrammes of drugs may have been provided by two alleged drug dealers who were being investigated and who go by the names Ike and Tike.

At this point, Banton’s supporters in the court were engulfed in muffled laughter and giving off “I told you so” sounds.

Banton is on trial for conspiracy to possess with intent to distribute five or more kilogrammes of cocaine. The charge carries a minimum sentence of 20 years to life in prison and a fine of up to US$4 million.

He is being tried by a jury of 14 people, two of whom are African-Americans, a fact that has drawn comments from Banton’s supporters who felt that the composition was not a jury of the Jamaican singer’s peers. The panel also comprises six women.

Banton was arrested on December 10, the same day Mack and Ian Thomas were held. But men have recently signed plea bargain arrangements and have agreed to assist prosecutors.

However, yesterday the prosecution, lead by Jim Preston, indicated in court that it would not be calling Thomas as a witness. Markus then asked for him to be made available as a defence witness.

Markus is contending that Banton was entrapped by the US Government and a convicted drug dealer — Alexander Johnson — who had raked in millions working undercover for the state. He said yesterday that Johnson had earned US$50,000 working the Buju Banton case.

During his opening argument yesterday afternoon, Preston told the court that Banton and Johnson met on a flight from Madrid, Spain in July 2009 and that the two started discussing drugs.

“Do you have any contact where I can get cocaine?” Preston said Banton asked Johnson.

Preston said that by this time Banton was already a financier of a multi-million dollar cocaine smuggling ring that spanned the Caribbean, South America and Europe and was seeking to invest in new smuggling ventures.

He told the court that Banton discussed the price of drugs with Johnson, a Colombian working with the US Government since his 1996 conviction and who had received a dramatically reduced sentence.

The prosecutor said that Banton boasted to Johnson that he only financed drug ventures, that he was the best at what he did and that he would never be arrested because he stayed on the outside of deals.

He said the prosecution would be playing recordings of telephone conversations with Banton discussing cocaine deals with Johnson and that the men met on several occasions, culminating with his arrest.

“I’m going to show you his other career,” Preston told jurors.

Expected to be played also is a recording of a December meeting in a Florida warehouse where Banton tasted cocaine brought to him by Johnson.

In his opening remarks, Markus did not deny that Banton tasted the cocaine, saying that it was a terrible mistake. He, however, said that Banton had a choice to make and decided not to deal with Johnson any further and went home.

“He’s guilty of talking a lot, guilty of tasting, but not guilty of dealing drugs,” Markus said.

Markus said that Banton was not aware that Johnson was going to bring drugs to the meeting because he was under the impression that he was going to look at a boat Johnson had. He said also that Banton had been avoiding Johnson and that Johnson was desperate in pursuing the artiste because of the money he stood to gain from an arrest.

The lawyer said that Johnson had resorted to telling lies on others and setting them up to maintain his high lifestyle and that he had purchased a million-dollar house in Florida.

Markus also pointed out to jurors that it was Mack and Thomas who made the deal that led to the arrest and that Banton had nothing to do with it. He said also that Thomas had pointed this out to Johnson.

Banton is expected to testify in the trial, which is being presided over by Judge Jim Moody.

Entered into evidence yesterday were the five kilogrammes of cocaine for which Banton was charged, pictures of the illicit drugs, as well as photos of the cash seized.

A forensic chemist testified that the substance involved in the case was in fact cocaine, while an intelligence research specialist testified to the number of calls that were placed between Banton, Johnson and Thomas.

Throughout the proceedings Banton, dressed in a grey sports coat and black pants, appeared relaxed, chatting with his lawyers at times.

Earlier in the morning when he walked into court, the entertainer greeted the members of his legal team and saluted his supporters which included his relatives and members of his band. He appears physically healthy and seems as if he has gained weight.

The trial continues today.

***

[www.jamaicaobserver.com] :

TAMPA, Florida — The prosecution called its main witness to the stand this morning as the second day of the trial involving Reggae superstar Buju Banton got underway in this city.

Alexander Johnson, the Colombian informant who is assisting in trying to secure a conviction against the artiste, testified that he met Banton on a flight from Madrid, Spain to Miami Florida. The flight lasted eight hours, Johnson said, and a conversation about drug dealing came up within an hour.

The prosecution then played recordings where Banton, whose real name is Mark Myrie, was heard telling Johnson, "I am about making money, straight up" and "I have 15 children to send to school".

Myrie was also heard asking Johnson if he had any contacts to acquire cocaine as he was willing to finance a deal. He also told Johnson that he did not have contacts in Venezuela and Panama but that he was involved in smuggling diamonds from Africa to Europe.

He was also heard telling Johnson that "It would be good to have our own contacts. I would like to start small with five keys as I don't want to take any risks".

The artiste also warned the informant that he should stay away from a man known as Lloyd Evans as "There are a lot of snitches in the game".

Myrie, dressed in a grey sports coat, shook his head while the recordings were being played. One of his female supporters covered her ears when the recordings were being played, while some chuckled in disbelief. Others seemed captivated by the recordings.

Yesterday Myrie's attorney David Markus told the court that his client was guilty of talking a lot and had made a crucial mistake of sampling contraband. He also painted Johnson as a well paid government informant who entrapped people to get involved in drug dealing.

Drug Enforcement Agent Daniel McCeaffrey also testified yesterday that despite investigating the artiste for a year, he had uncovered no evidence to suggest that Myrie was involved in any drug deal or had benefitted from any drug deal.

The court is now in recess and Johnson is set to resume his testimony at 1:30 Tampa time in courthouse 13A in the Gibbons US Court in downtown Tampa.

***

[www.jamaicaobserver.com] :

TAMPA, Florida — Alexander Johnson, the United States informant assisting prosecutors to seal a conviction against Reggae artiste, this afternoon testified that Buju Banton never entered into any drug deal with him.

Johnson, a Colombian national who had served three years for a drug offense, made the revelation under cross-examination from Banton's attorney David Markus.

He said Banton, whose real name is Mark Myrie, never sold or bought drugs and had never wired any money to him to invest in the illicit trade.

Johnson also admitted that Banton had never purchased any cocaine in Panama or Colombia and that their dealings never went beyond talk.

The informant did not readily answer when Markus asked if Myrie had stopped taking his calls in December last year.

"Didn't Ian Thomas tell you that he (Myrie) does not want to do anything man? Talk to me. He said that's not him, he is about music, he eats and sleeps the music?" Markus asked to which Johnson replied yes.

Johnson also told the court that he had no knowledge that Myrie had financed the deal that went sour in the police controlled warehouse in Saratoga, Florida when Myrie's co-defendants, Ian Thomas and James Mack were arrested attempting to purchase cocaine from Drug Enforcement agents.

Earlier the prosecution played a video recording of Myrie tasting the contraband in December last year. The footage showed the artiste, Thomas and an undercover cop at a location in Sarasota. A kilogramme of the drug was produced by the cop and Thomas used a knife to cut it open and Myrie used his finger to wipe the knife and sampled the cocaine.

Thomas described the drug as 'fish scale' a term Johnson explained to mean high quality. While the footage was being showed some of Banton's fans appeared disappointed while others watched with keen interest.

Johnson also testified that during a meeting Thomas informed him that he had a contact in Georgia with drug connections and that he (Thomas) would be the person who would be doing business.

Markus is expected to continue cross-examining Johnson when the trial resumes tomorrow morning.



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Re: Buju trial
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My 5 cents so far:

Buju ei ole mikään partiopoika, muttei myöskään kokaiinidiileri. Buju on erittäin, korostan _erittäin_, fiksu (miksen keksi parempaa suomenkieleistä sanaa, englanniks sanoisin smart & intelligent) mies joka rakastaa puhua, keskustella, väitellä ja pelata "mind games", aiheesta kuin aiheesta.. joista hänellä paljon lukemisen ja maailmaa nähneenä on myös paljon tietoa: yleisisivistyksen taso on korkea. En ole kenenkään muun (varsinkaan jamaikalaisen!)seurassa ikinä tuntenut itseäni hieman "tyhmäksi" tai sivistymättömäksi kuin Bujun. Näistä syistä en ollenkaan epäile lentomatkalla Johnsonin ja Bujun välistä keskustelun kulkua, mutta uskon vakaasti että Bujun puolelta se on ollut vain sitä, keskustelua, ilman aikomusta toteuttaa mitään. (Kerran ollessani itse Bujun vieruskaverina lennolla Helsingistä Joensuuhun, Buju ihaili maisemia, kyseli Suomen politiikasta, vientituotteista, historiasta jne, ja suunnitteli jo ostavansa saaren ja rakentavansa talon tänne. Tämäkin jäi sitten puheen tasolle :).
Kun Johnson, kokenut diileri ja Bujun syylliseksi toimittamiseksi korkeasti palkattu vasikka, on ohjannut keskustelun huumekauppaan on Buju tarttunut syöttiin ja ajautunut keskusteluun jota nyt käytetään syyttäjän toimesta yrittämällä saada Buju kuulostamaan huumediileriltä.

Koko jupakan taustoihin en nyt jaksa paneutua, mutta suuremman luokan lavastus on kyseessä, jonkun verran asiasta "news ja"-ketjussa jos kiinnostaa.

Buju on siis puolustuksen mukaan syyllistynyt ainoastaan puhumiseen ja kokainiin maistamiseen. Puhumisen jo selitinkin, ja maistamisesta sen verran että vaikka rastamiehen kokaiininmaistaminen kuulostaakin pahalta, oli Bujun nuoruus Kingstonissa (pre rasta) kuitenkin tyypillistä nuoren miehen ghettoelämää jossa 80-90-luvun taitteessa koksun käyttö ja diilaus ei ollut vierasta toimintaa. Kun Buju on nyt ajettu tilanteeseen jossa tutun kaverin koksusdiilin kauppatavaraa on esillä ja Bujun pyydetään sitä testaavan on Buju katu-uskottavana itsenään sen tehnyt. Näin mä sen nään..ja sen verran kun miestä tunnen voisin mennä takuuseen siitä ettei Buju koksua käytä eikä diilaa. Uskon ja toivon myös että oikeus toteutuu ja Buju todetaan syyttömäksi.

Free up di general!



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Gleaner aiheesta: [jamaica-gleaner.com]

US informant testifies in Buju Banton drug trial
Published: Wednesday | September 22, 2010

TAMPA, Florida (AP):

After Jamaican reggae star Buju Banton had a conversation about drugs with a government informant he met on a plane, it triggered a series of meetings and phone calls about buying and selling cocaine, according to testimony from the informant and recordings played yesterday in Banton's federal drug trial.

Banton and the informant, Alexander Johnson, met on a plane from Spain to Miami at the end of Banton's European tour last summer.

Johnson testified that they began talking about drugs early in the flight.

"He told me he was involved in the transportation of drugs from Venezuela to St Martin," Johnson said. "His involvement was he moved money himself for traffickers out of England."

They exchanged phone numbers and agreed to meet the next day in Fort Lauderdale.

Recordings of that July 27, 2009 meeting and other phone calls and conversations from July 2009 through December were played in court yesterday.

"Do you have any contacts where I can get cocaine?" Banton asked Johnson in one recorded conversation.

He told Johnson he wanted to give him money so he could buy and sell the drugs - but the singer did not want to be more involved.

"All I do is finance," Buju said.

The four-time Grammy nominee is on trial in Tampa federal court on charges of conspiring to distribute cocaine and carrying a firearm during the course of a drug trafficking crime and aiding and abetting two co-defendants in possessing a firearm during the course of cocaine distribution.

Buju and Johnson discussed a variety of enterprises over several meetings in restaurants, such as selling drugs in Europe, having Banton finance a drug deal, buying drugs from Colombia and the Caribbean island of St Martin, using Johnson's boat to transport drugs, and giving Johnson a cut of a drug deal.

Banton's attorney, David Markus, says those conversations turned to drugs only after the men were drunk.

"You talked about (Buju) doing a lot of things that he did not do," Markus said while cross-examining Johnson.

Small talk

The men also made small talk while driving to an undercover police warehouse in Sarasota on December 8, according to another recording.

Johnson admonished the singer for smoking. Buju replied, "I smoke herbs, man. A lot of ganja."

Buju also complained, according to the recording, about a gay-rights group that had protested over violent, homophobic lyrics from early in his music career. Shows in several US cities last year were cancelled because of the protests.

"They're pushing me, man," he told Johnson. "These guys are trying to run me under."

Johnson also testified that Buju introduced him to Ian Thomas, a co-defendant, who the singer said had contacts to sell cocaine.

A video played for the jury of the meeting at the Sarasota warehouse with Johnson and an undercover police officer appeared to show Thomas opening a kilo of cocaine, with Buju peering over his shoulder. Thomas then appears to hand the knife he used to cut open the drugs to Buju, who tasted the drugs with a finger.

Also in the video, Johnson and Thomas negotiate the price and quantity of a shipment of cocaine.

Thomas pleaded guilty to conspiracy to possess with intent to distribute five kilograms or more of cocaine. He faces up to life in prison.



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[www.tampabay.com]

Tapes at Buju Banton trial in Tampa reveal discussions of drug deals

By Nicole Hutcheson, Times Staff Writer
In Print: Wednesday, September 22, 2010

TAMPA — On a summer day last year, reggae star Buju Banton met up with a man for drinks at a Fort Lauderdale restaurant.

After hours of casual conversation, the talk turned to drugs.

"Do you have any contacts where I can get cocaine?" Banton eventually asked.

He didn't know the man he was talking with was an informer, and that part of the conversation was being taped.

The question came back to haunt the four time Grammy-nominated musician Tuesday morning in a federal courtroom in Tampa, where the 37-year-old faces charges of conspiracy to buy and sell 5 kilos of cocaine, and aiding and abetting two others to possess a firearm in the course of cocaine distribution.

Prosecutors presented audio evidence of Banton, whose real name is Mark Myrie, discussing a wide variety of drug deals over five months, including shipping cocaine from Panama to Europe in crates with frozen seafood.

Alexander Johnson, the government informer, testified he first met Banton in first class on a flight from Madrid in July 2009.

From then on, he said he called Banton several times and met with the star throughout Florida.

The audiotapes and transcripts presented Tuesday included choppy conversations between the men. Drugs are discussed, as are dollar amounts and the best ways to transport, but often incoherently. Alcohol was consumed during most of the encounters.

But prosecutors say what is clear is that Banton wanted to put up money to buy cocaine.

"All I do is finance," Banton told Johnson during the restaurant meeting, transcripts show.

"So you give the money to buy dope?" Johnson asked.

"Yes," said Banton, according to transcripts.

Defense attorney David Markus has argued that while his client talked about drug dealing, he never actually funded any.

"Did Mr. Myrie invest one dollar of money into a drug deal?" Markus asked Johnson during cross examination.

"With me — no," Johnson answered.

During another conversation on Aug. 1 at a South Florida hotel, Banton and Johnson discussed buying kilos of cocaine from Panama and transporting them to Europe in containers filled with frozen seafood.

Johnson told Banton he had a seafood business called Frozen Fish, the transcripts show.

Johnson turned informer in 1996 after being convicted of distributing cocaine and marijuana. He was paid $50,000 in the Banton case, according to testimony.

During a conversation at a Sarasota restaurant on Dec. 8, Banton admitted to Johnson he was having money problems. "My truck is in the shop and I can't get it out," Banton said. "I'm going to concentrate, though; things are going to be straight next year."

It was on that day that Banton brought an associate named Ian Thomas along for lunch with Johnson. Banton described Thomas as a "friend who had contacts to purchase kilos of cocaine," Johnson said in court.

Johnson told Banton he would give him 5 extra kilos of cocaine if Thomas and his associate, a man named James Mack, purchased 20 kilos.

Prosecutors presented video of Johnson, Banton and Thomas entering a warehouse in Sarasota later that day. In it, Thomas cuts a kilo open. Banton approaches, takes the knife, wipes it and tastes his finger.

Another video shows Thomas and Mack being arrested while attempting to purchase cocaine at the warehouse two days later. Banton was arrested later that day at his South Florida home.

"So that 5-kilo deal for Mr. Myrie never happened, did it?" Markus asked Johnson.

"No," Johnson said.

The trial is scheduled to continue today.



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[www.jamaicaobserver.com] :

Buju defence witness refuses to testify

By PAUL HENRY, Observer staff reporter
Wednesday, September 22, 2010


TAMPA, Florida — The defence in the Buju Banton trial suffered a minor setback this morning when a possible witness pleaded the Fifth Amendment, deciding not to testify on behalf of the Jamaican singer.

The defence had requested that James Mack, Buju's former co-accused, give evidence for him, but Mack, fearful that he might jeopardise his chances of getting a lighter sentence, opted not to.

American law allows a witness to refuse to testify under oath on the ground that the answers could be used as evidence by prosecutors seeking to convict the witness for a criminal offence

Mack was arrested in December 2009 the same day that Buju, whose given name is Mark Myrie, was arrested and slapped with cocaine charges.

He recently copped a plead deal for a lighter sentence. Also arrested along with Mack in a sting operation was Ian Thomas, who also copped a plea deal. Both men will be sentenced in November.

Reacting to the development, Buju's lawyer David Markus expressed some disappointment as he spoke with the Observer.

"He would have helped," Markus said.

Meanwhile, Markus continued his grilling of Alexander Johnson, the prosecution's main witness.

Markus, with his line of questioning painted a picture of a man who was in financial debt and was pushing to entrap Buju because of the money he stood to earn from the case, if the entertainer was arrested.

The court was told that Johnson was behind on his credit card bills, mortgage payment and owed the US government over $100,000 in taxes.

Markus pointed out from transcripts of Johnson's recorded conversations with Buju, that he was the one constantly bringing up talks of drugs and that the entertainer was not interested.

Johnson also said that he did not inform Buju that he was going to look at drugs on December 8 when the entertainer was caught on tape tasting the cocaine. He said the artiste was under the impression that he was going to see a sailboat he (Johnson) owned.

Buju was arrested at his home at Tamarac, South Florida hours after his former co-accused Thomas and Mack, were arrested during an alleged drug bust in an undercover operation at a warehouse in Sarasota, Florida in December last year.

All three were charged with conspiracy to possess more than five kilogrammes of cocaine with intent to distribute, while Mack was charged with possession of a firearm in furtherance of a drug trafficking offence.

The drug charge carries a minimum sentence of 20 years to life in addition to a fine of up to US$4 million, while the firearm charge carries a sentence of five years to life and a fine of up to US$250,000.

Both Mack and Thomas, in their plea deals, have agreed to give evidence to assist the US Government in building a case against Banton, in exchange for lesser sentences.



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[www.tampabay.com]

Bob Marley's son testifies for Buju Banton in his drug conspiracy trial in Tampa

By Nicole Hutcheson, Times Staff Writer
Posted: Sep 22, 2010 02:59 PM

TAMPA — Stephen Marley, son of reggae legend Bob Marley, took the stand as a character witness for Buju Banton on Wednesday, calling the acclaimed singer "the voice of the people'' who never talked about drugs.

Banton, whose real name is Mark Myrie, is on trial in federal court in Tampa on drug conspiracy charges. Both grew up in Jamaica and have collaborated on music. Marley said he has known Banton for 20 years.

Defense attorney David Markus asked Marley whether he ever heard Banton discuss drugs.

"No, no," Marley said. "Never."

Marley called Banton "the voice of Jamaica," noting that his music is ingrained in the nation's culture.

"That sums it up," he said. "What Banton means to us. He is the voice of the people."

Banton has earned four Grammy nominations since his debut album in 1992. He is considered one of reggae's elite stars, with his 1995 album Til Shiloe garnering a spot among Rolling Stone's "Essential Recordings of the '90s."

Prosecutors say they have video and audio of the musician discussing the ins and outs of drug smuggling with an informer and asking the informer to help him in other illegal endeavors.

Banton's trial started Monday after months of delays. The informer, Alexander Johnson, is expected to testify. Prosecutors said they also have video of Banton tasting cocaine during a drug deal.

Markus said Banton plans to testify.



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Re: Buju trial
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huh, siinä on sitä tekstiä! en paljookaan jaksanu lukea läpi, mut ilmeisen hyvin menee ainakin tähän mennessä? jos kerran DEA:n tutkimuksia johtanu sälli McCeaffrey on sanonu ettei vuosien tutkimus oo antanu mitään viitteitä että Buju olis missään tekemisissä huumeiden kanssa, niin täytyyhän sen olla iso argumentti bujun kannalta

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Re: Buju trial
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^joo ja myös palkattu vasikka "Johnson" on myöntänyt että
-Buju luuli olevansa matkalla katsomaan venettä
-Buju ei rahoittanut mitään tai tehnyt mitään kauppaa

Nyt on myös itse Buju puhunut:

Reggae star Buju Banton proclaims innocence at drug trial


By ELAINE SILVESTRINI | The Tampa Tribune
Published: September 22, 2010

TAMPA - Reggae star Buju Banton said he's embarrassed about what he has done, afraid of losing his freedom but innocent of any involvement in drug trafficking.

"I'm just a humble musician," he testified today in his trial on federal drug charges.

An informant's recordings capturing Banton talking about large-scale cocaine deals are all accurate, the Jamaican musician said, but they are just talk.

"I was just talking garbage with him," Banton said, referring to informant Alexander Johnson. "I was just talking straight-up garbage."

Banton, a four-time, Grammy-nominee whose real name is Mark Myrie, has been held without bail since his arrest in December. He faces up to life in prison if convicted.

Two codefendants, James Mack and Ian Thomas, have pleaded guilty.

Also testifying for Banton today was Stephen Marley, son of reggae icon Bob Marley. He said he has known Banton for 19 years and has never known him to be involved with cocaine.

"He's a close friend of mine," Marley said. "I love him."

Marley said Banton is important to Jamaica. Referring to Banton's album "Voice of Jamaica," Marley said, "That really sums up who Buju is to us."

Banton and Johnson met in July 2009 when they sat next to each other in business class on a flight from Madrid to Miami. Banton said he had just concluded a European tour.

The prosecution maintains Banton was eager to join forces with Johnson, a former Colombian cocaine smuggler who now earns a living as an informant. Assistant U.S. Attorney James Preston told jurors in his opening statement Monday that Banton was already an established drug investor looking for new opportunities.

According to prosecutors, Banton introduced Johnson to Thomas, his friend and driver, and then allowed the deal to proceed, keeping himself "in the trenches," away from the action.

The defense contends that although Banton talked a lot and tasted cocaine when the informant surprised him by showing him the drug, he is not a drug trafficker; the deal that transpired among Thomas, Mack and Johnson had nothing to do with Banton.

Banton, 37, testified that he thought Johnson, who introduced himself as "Junior," was funny and likable. Banton said he went to coach class during the flight to check on his band members and then encountered a flight attendant who blocked his return to business class.

He said he was allowed to return to his seat after Johnson interceded and vouched for him.

He said Johnson also told him he knew people in the music business in Los Angeles and might be able to help him.

"I thought I was going to see him because we were talking about my career," Banton said.

When he talked to Johnson about buying and selling cocaine, Banton said, "I was trying to impress this guy, and that's what got me in the hot seat I'm sitting in now."

Asked why he tasted cocaine when shown a kilo of the drug in a Sarasota warehouse, Banton said, "I don't know why I did that. If I could, I would rewind the hands of time."

***

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TAMPA — He was a reggae icon who toured extensively throughout Europe and was considered the "voice of Jamaica."

The other man was noticeably overweight and ran a frozen seafood business.

Yet reggae star Buju Banton felt the need to impress Alexander Johnson with talk of elaborate, million-dollar drug deals stretching the continents.

In the end it was all a lie, Banton said, a rivalry for superiority.

"I was trying to impress this guy. I wasn't going to let him outtalk me," the musician told jurors during testimony in the third day of his federal drug trafficking trial Wednesday. "That's what got me into this hot seat."

Johnson was a government informer who taped conversations with Banton discussing a variety of drug deals over five months, including shipping cocaine from Panama to Europe in crates with seafood. The informer was paid $50,000 in this case, according to testimony.

David Markus, Banton's defense attorney, painted a picture of Johnson as an aggressor who pursued Banton with phone calls and the illusion of friendship. Johnson would bring up cocaine and discuss how the men could do business together.

Markus pointed to a meeting at a Fort Lauderdale restaurant in July 2009 when Johnson brought up cocaine after having a two-hour meeting with Banton. The reggae star asked Johnson if he had any drug connections.

Banton said he wasn't taking the conversation seriously.

"I was just talking straight up garbage," Banton said to jurors. "I liked hanging out with Mr. Johnson. He could talk all he wanted to talk, but I wasn't going to engage in it."

Banton said the informer also misled him on occasion. On Dec. 8, Banton traveled to Sarasota to see Johnson, who had explained they would be looking at his boat. The men ended up instead at a warehouse where an undercover police officer presented the men with a kilo of cocaine.

"I didn't know I was going to see any drugs," Banton said. "And if I had known I was going to see drugs, I wouldn't have gone."

In the end, Ian Thomas, an associate of Banton's, agreed to do a drug deal with Johnson for 11 pounds of cocaine. Thomas has since taken a plea deal.

Assistant U.S. Attorney James Preston challenged Banton's argument.

"How does someone naive know the prices of cocaine in different parts of the world?" Preston asked, citing taped conversations where Banton quoted prices for cocaine.

At one point, Banton's voice rose. "If I was a drug dealer, I would've taken the plea bargain you offered to me," he said to the prosecutor. "But I'm taking a public flogging because I believe the truth must come out."

Stephen Marley, son of reggae legend Bob Marley, took the stand as a character witness for Banton, calling the acclaimed singer "the voice of the people."

Both grew up in Jamaica and have collaborated on music. Marley said he has known Banton for 20 years.

Markus asked Marley if he ever heard Banton discuss drugs.

"No, no," Marley said. "Never."

***

[www.jamaicaobserver.com]

Buju says he’s nervous, scared
Stephen Marley says artiste is no drug dealer


TAMPA, Florida — Reggae star Buju Banton denied being a drug dealer when he took the stand during his drug trial in the Gibbons US Court here this afternoon.

Banton said he was “talking crap” during the conversation with Alexander Johnson, the prosecution's main witness, on a flight they shared from Madrid to Miami. He said the incident has caused him and his family indescribable pain.

Banton, whose real name is Mark Myrie, was called to the stand about 2:45 pm Florida time by his attorney David Oscar Markus.

“I was just talking crap. I’m not a drug dealer,” Banton admitted.

He said that he did not want to be outtalked by Johnson, and said Johnson seemed to be a nice person who he liked hanging out with.

Banton admitted also that he had made a false move by sampling cocaine in a warehouse in Tampa. He said he was unaware that he was going to see cocaine as Johnson told him that he was going to inspect a boat.

He said he was fascinated with boats and was very surprised when he saw cocaine.

Banton apologised profusely and when asked by his attorney how he felt, the artiste said, “I am nervous and scared and I have been waiting for 10 months…” before he was interrupted by lead prosecutor Jim Preston who objected to the line of questioning.

Presiding judge Jim Moody sustained the objection.

Under cross examination, Preston, who asked Banton if he had thanked Johnson for making him [Buju] himself again, Banton said, “I would not risk my career which I have been working to build for 20 years for five kilos of cocaine.”

Banton said he was thanking Johnson who he thought could hook him up with a record deal and not a cocaine deal, as his record deal with his former company Tommy Boy Records had expired in 2009.

Meanwhile, Stephen Marley, son of Reggae king Bob Marley, also testified on Banton’s behalf, saying he has known him for over 10 years and never knew him to be a drug dealer.

Banton was arrested at his home at Tamarac, South Florida hours after his former co-accused Ian Thomas and James Mack, were arrested during an alleged drug bust in an undercover operation at a warehouse in Sarasota, Florida in December last year.

All three were charged with conspiracy to possess more than five kilogrammes of cocaine with intent to distribute, while Mack was charged with possession of a firearm in furtherance of a drug trafficking offence.

The drug charge carries a minimum sentence of 20 years to life in addition to a fine of up to US$4 million, while the firearm charge carries a sentence of five years to life and a fine of up to US$250,000.

Both Mack and Thomas, in their plea deals, have agreed to give evidence to assist the US Government in building a case against Banton, in exchange for lesser sentences.

The trial continues tomorrow.



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Re: Buju trial
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Huh nyt on jännät paikat, jury on vetäytynyt päättämään tuomiota.

tämän päivän uutisointia:

[www.jamaicaobserver.com]

Buju: I'm no drug dealer

TAMPA, USA — A contrite and apologetic Buju Banton yesterday took the witness stand in his cocaine trial, denying that he was a trafficker or a financier of any illicit drug activities.

But the soft-spoken Jamaican Grammy nominee Reggae artiste admitted two things: that he was naïve, and that he was only "talking crap" when he was recorded telling Government informant Alexander Johnson that he was a drug financier, who was in search of new drug ventures.

"Like my mom always say, 'Mark, you talk a lot,' and that is the consequence of it," said the 37-year-old entertainer, whose given name is Mark Myrie, during cross-examination from prosecutor Jim Preston.

Banton said he was ashamed of himself for the things he had said, but told the attentive jurors that "talking crap" did not make him a dealer.

Banton had been eagerly awaiting this moment for the past several months following his arrest last December at his home in Florida. He was charged with conspiracy to distribute five kilogrammes of cocaine. If convicted, he could be sent to prison for life and fined several million dollars.

Decked in a grey sports jacket with a light blue under shirt and dark pants, a serious-looking Banton took to the stand while the jurors were on a short break.

He chatted with his attorney, David Oscar Markus and cased the room in the Gibbons US Court to look at his supporters, who were all anxiously waiting to hear the entertainer speak in his own defence after Markus announced that Banton would be taking the witness box because the "truth was on his side".

The five-minute break before the jurors returned seemed like an eternity to anxious supporters, who milled about nervously. But alas, the 14 jurors — two African-Americans, the others whites — returned at 2:45 pm, taking their seats in front of the entertainer.

"Are you guilty of being a cocaine trafficker?" Markus wasted no time in asking.

"No, Sir, I'm not," Banton promptly responded as he went on to deny the charges against him.

"How do you feel?" Markus asked.

"I'm scared," Banton said, managing an awkward smile. "I'm nervous. I've been waiting 10 months."

He was, however, prevented from completing the statement due to an objection from lead prosecutor Jim Preston, which was sustained by Judge Jim Moody.

At Markus' prompting Banton proceeded to recall how he met Johnson on a flight from Madrid, Spain following a tour of the European continent in July 2009 and how he got to like Johnson's company.

He said he and Johnson spoke on a number of topics during the eight-hour flight to Florida, USA and that Johnson was the one who raised the issue of drugs after both men had had a few glasses of wine which Johnson ordered.

He said both men spoke about the entertainment business and Johnson told him that he had contacts within the industry.

Banton testified that before the argument of drugs came up, Johnson had told him that he had a seafood business but that he did "a little thing on the side", which the entertainer took to mean that the "side" enterprise may have been illegal. Banton said his suspicion was further heightened when Johnson pulled a wad of cash from his pocket and showed it to him.

Nonetheless, Banton said he was having a good time talking with Johnson and that he found him quite affable.

"He was a funny guy," said the entertainer with a smile.

Banton said that Johnson asked if Jamaicans transported weed with go-fast boats, and confided that he (Johnson) used to ship ganja but switched to cocaine.

The singer said the two never spoke much about the subject as Johnson kept looking over his shoulders.

Banton testified that he gave his number to Johnson, who gave his name as Junior, and that he received a call from him the following day, saying that he wanted to meet the next day, which they did at a restaurant.

"We were having a good time," Banton said of the meeting at the restaurant in Florida on July 27.

He said he had no idea that Johnson had invited him to the restaurant to talk about drugs, and that he had left the restaurant and was meeting outside with his realtor when Johnson approached him and asked if he had talked to his friend about the cocaine venture.

Asked by his attorney about his drug discussions with Johnson, Banton said that he was just yapping to impress Johnson and that he was not a drug dealer and was not interested in making any drug deal.

"I was talking garbage. I was just talking straight up garbage! He was trying out-talk me," Banton said, a line he would maintain throughout his close to two hours in the witness box. "I was trying to impress him."

As he looked directly at the jurors, and spoke in an animated way, Banton again denied ever doing any drug deal in his life, contrary to what the prosecution is contending, based on the entertainer's recorded conversations with Johnson.

"I'm just a humble musician. I was just talking above my head. I was trying to impress this guy and that's what got me into this hot seat," the entertainer said in a contrite tone.

Regarding the December 8 meeting between himself, Johnson, and Ian Thomas, where the artiste was videotaped tasting cocaine during a covert operation by the Sarosata police department, Banton said he had no idea that he was going to a warehouse to see drugs, but instead he thought he was going to inspect a sailboat.

"Do you like boats? questioned Markus.

"Yes, Sir I do," Banton replied, adding that had he known that drugs were involved he would not have left his house to meet with Johnson.

It was at that meeting that Banton introduced Johnson to Thomas, who is the godfather of two of the artiste's children.

Banton said he continued meeting with Johnson even though the Colombian was always talking about drugs, because he liked him and thought he could connect him with people in Los Angeles who could sign him to a record deal in light of the fact that his contract with Tommy Boy Records had expired that year.

Reality, the artiste said, struck on that fateful December 8 day when he went to the warehouse and the five kilograms of cocaine was presented.

He said after that meeting he wanted nothing more to do with Johnson, whom he said was "attacking" Thomas about making cocaine deals the moment they were introduced.

"I never sold cocaine, I never bought cocaine, I never shot cocaine," Banton said before his grilling by Preston began.

Earlier, during the morning session, while Johnson was being cross-examined, Markus had attempted to paint the convicted drug dealer as a man who was steeped in debt, including taxes, and who was motivated by the money he stood to make from Banton's arrest.

In light of this, Markus attempted to establish that Johnson vigorously pursued Banton, constantly calling the artiste to make drug deals.

It is already public knowledge that Johnson had made US$50,000 working undercover on the case.

Johnson had been working undercover for the us Government since 1996, following his conviction on drug-trafficking charges. He has, over a three-year period, made US$3 million as a Government informant.

Johnson said yesterday that his work with the Government was his only source of income. He is paid by the number of arrests he is able to secure.

Johnson is said to owe over $100,000 in taxes, is behind on his mortgage payments and is deep in credit card debt. He has filed for bankruptcy.

Banton had waited since last December to speak in his own defence, but Preston made sure it was not a cakewalk.

Straight off the bat, the grey-haired Caucasian prosecutor pounced, reminding Banton of his boasting on the recordings that he is a big-time cocaine financier, who was looking to expand his illicit drug empire.

"That was me on the tape, but I walked away," Banton said while gesturing with his hands.

Asked by Preston how — if he were not a cocaine dealer — did he know the price of cocaine in different parts of the world, Banton said that "you hear a lot" being in the entertainment business.

"I talked a lot of crap, Sir," the artiste said during one of his exchanges with Preston. "I just talk a lot. I did not do anything."

Asked by Preston if he was "talking crap" when he spoke of cocaine buyers in Europe, Banton said he was "plain out lying".

Asked his motives for "lying", Banton said he thought Johnson could get him a record deal.

"I regret speaking like that. It has caused me tremendous pain and my family. If I were a drug dealer I would have taken the plea deal you offered me," Banton said as he tried to remain calm under cross-examination.

He later said he was ashamed of himself for the things that he had said, and that he had worked too hard over the past 20 years to establish himself to throw it all away over such little money.

Preston suggested that Banton had been facing financial problems at the time, which the artiste denied.

The Reggae singer said also that he spoke to Johnson about legitimate business ventures, but that Johnson only wanted to talk about drugs.

He said he did not put Johnson in touch with Thomas for them to close any cocaine deal.

Thomas was arrested on December 10 along with a James Mack. Both men were jointly charged with Banton, but pleaded guilty on a lesser charge. They will be sentenced in November. Thomas is expected to testify for the defence today.

Mack had yesterday refused to testify for the defence out of fear that he may hurt his chances of receiving a favourable sentence.

Also yesterday, Reggae artiste Stephen Marley, the son of late Reggae icon Bob Marley testified on Banton's behalf. He said he had been friends with Banton for more 19 years and did not know him to be a drug dealer.

***

[www.jamaicaobserver.com]

Buju's final witness this morning

Final arguments may be presented to jury today

TAMPA, Florida — Ian Thomas, a co-defendant of jailed Reggae singer Buju Banton, is expected to be called to the witness stand this morning by lawyers representing the artiste.

He last week signed a plea deal and agreed to testify for the prosecution but on Monday when the trial began, lead prosecutor Jim Preston signalled to the court that the prosecution has no intention of calling Thomas to the stand.

Thomas and James Mack, who has also accepted a plea deal and opted not to give evidence of behalf of Banton in fear being given a harsher sentence, were arrested during a undercover drug operation at a police controlled warehouse in Saratoga, Tampa in December. They were attempting to purchase seven kilogrammes of cocaine from undercover police officers.

Thomas is expected to be the final witness called by the defence. After his testimony the defence and prosecution are expected to present their final arguments to the 14-member jury before Judge Jim Moody hands down his summation of the case.

All three are charged with attempting to possess with intent to distribute five or more kilogrammes of cocaine a charge which carries a minimum sentence of 20 years to life and a fine of up to US$4 million.

So far a Drug Enforcement Agent and a government informant have told the court that they had no concrete evidence that Banton was a drug dealer. The prosecution has however played audio and video footage which shows the artiste tasting cocaine in a Florida warehouse and making statements asking the informant Alexander Johnson, where he could acquire cocaine.

***

[www.jamaicaobserver.com]

Buju awaits verdict
African-American juror falls ill and not taking part in deliberation

A 13-member panel of jurors is now deliberating whether to find Reggae artiste Buju Banton, whose real name is Mark Myrie, guilty or innocent of conspiracy with intent to distribute five kilogrammes of cocaine.

A female African-American juror fell ill and will not take part in this afternoon's deliberation.

The jury retired at 12:40 pm.

Myrie's attorney David Oscar Markus in his final argument, told the jurors that his client was innocent and asked them to return a not guilty verdict.

"Ladies and gentlemen, he is not guilty. Mr Myrie is not a drug dealer. Please, Please find him not guilty. Not because he was at the warehouse when the drugs were being inspected means he is guilty of the conspiracy charge against him," Markus said.

Markus argued that the government could not prove its case against Myrie and pointed to the Drug Enforcement Agency's Daniel McCeaffrey's testimony that despite investigating the artiste for a year he could find no evidence against him. Markus also painted US government informant Alexander Johnson as a 'master manipulator and con man'.

"To him this was a pay day. This guy was looking for his jackpot. This is how he makes a living," Markus said.

Lead prosecutor Jim Preston countered Markus' claims by telling the jurors that Myrie was 'neck deep' in the conspiracy to distribute cocaine and said it was his fault why his co-defendants James Mack and Ian Thomas were arrested. Preston said Thomas was brought into the deal by Myrie.

During his address to the jury, Preston walked over to Myrie and pointed at him for emphasis.

Thomas was expected to testify this morning but was not called to the witness stand by Markus.

"We felt we had it without him," Markus told the Observer.

Presiding Judge Jim Moody in his summation to the jury, instructed them that not because Banton was on the spot when the contraband was being inspected meant he was guilty of conspiracy. He instructed them to carefully weigh the evidence of a convicted person or a government informant because they may have a motive to give false statements.

He also informed the jury that their decision had to be unanimous to stand and instructed them that in cases of entrapment they had to find Myrie not guilty if he was not previously willing or if it was because a Government agent enticed him, they should return a not guilty verdict.



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Re: Buju trial
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"hyvään" aikaan "sairastui" toi toinen afroamerikkalainen juror. ehkä sittenki rikastui.



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"Buju jury to reconvene deliberations tomorrow." -jamaica observer on twitter



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Buju jury reconvening deliberations tomorrow
Supporters call for prayers

BY PAUL HENRY Observer reporter
Thursday, September 23, 2010

TAMPA, Florida — The 13-member panel of jurors were still undecided on the fate of Reggae singer Buju Banton after more than four hours of deliberation this afternoon.

They will reconvene tomorrow morning at 9:30.

Banton has been languishing an in the Pinellas County jail since December 10 last year when Federal agents removed from his home in Tamarac, Florida.

The artiste's supporters at the Gibbons US Court today asked that his fans worldwide send up prayers on his behalf and asked that they read Psalms 23 and 27.

Head of Magic Productions Hopie Miller, said the artiste needed all the emotional and moral support he could get.

"He needs our prayers," Miller told the Observer.



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Riina: " "hyvään" aikaan "sairastui" toi toinen afroamerikkalainen juror. ehkä sittenki rikastui."

Ei kai tuo lautamies millään ole rikastunut, vai mitä ajat takaa?

Re: Buju trial
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^no veikkaan että on lahjottu. aika huonoa sattumaa jos tummaihoinen (toinen kahdesta) naisjuror sattuu sairastumaan just kun valamiehistö vetäytyy päättämään tuomiosta. hirveen paljo rahaa on jo ihan myönnetystikin käytetty että buju saatais tuomituks.

kevennys facebookista:

Mystic Davis Free buju! Plz take la lewis instead!



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Tense wait for Buju

Friday, September 24, 2010

TAMPA, USA — Jurors will this morning continue deliberations in the closely watched Buju Banton trial following their failure yesterday to reach a verdict after four hours in the jury room.

The jurors retired at approximately 12:40 pm Florida time, after receiving final instructions from Judge Jim Moody, marking the start to an anxious afternoon period for the artiste and his fans.

The anxiety was further heightened when at 4:40 pm it appeared the jurors were returning with a verdict.

"We should pray now," said one supporter.

"We did that already," another informed him.

To the disappointment of the nervous supporters, which included family members of the artiste, the jurors were only seeking further instructions.

The jury — which now consist of 13 members after one of the two African-American women had to be excused because of ill-health — will continue deliberations at 9:30 am.

Following yesterday's adjournment, David Markus, the lawyer for the 37-year-old Banton, whose given name is Mark Myrie, said the team remained hopeful.

"It's hard to say what is going on in there," Markus said in reference to the deliberations among the jurors. "We just have to stay optimistic."

In the meantime, Banton's supporters at the court late yesterday afternoon called on fans worldwide to pray that the jurors would return a not guilty verdict.

They have asked that fans read Psalms 23 and 27 in addition to offering up prayers.

"We are just asking everybody all over the world to pray for Buju's freedom and stay optimistic," Hopie Miller, head of Magic Productions, said outside the Gibbons US Court, where the trial has been in progress since Monday.

If convicted, Banton could be sentenced to life imprisonment or slapped with millions of dollars in fines for the charges of conspiracy to possess and distribute cocaine and illegal possession of a firearm in the furtherance of a crime.

The Jamaican international Reggae artiste was arrested at his Tamarac, Florida home on December 10 last year, following the arrest of former co-accused Ian Thomas and James Mack, who had been in possession of the firearm for which Banton was jointly charged.

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

Thomas, who is the godfather of two of Banton's children, was set to give evidence on behalf of the defence yesterday morning but the entertainer's legal team decided not to call him.

"We felt we had it without him," Markus told the Observer during a short break after informing the court of the decision not to call Thomas.

Before the jurors retired yesterday, Markus, in his final argument, told them that his client was innocent and asked that they return a not guilty verdict.

"Ladies and gentlemen, he is not guilty. Mr Myrie is not a drug dealer. Please, please find him not guilty," Markus said.

"Because he was at the warehouse when the drugs were being inspected does not mean he is guilty of the charge against him," Markus added.

Markus argued that the Government had not proved its case against Myrie and pointed to the testimony of the Drug Enforcement Administration special agent Daniel McCeaffrey that despite investigating the artiste for a year he could find no evidence against him. Markus also painted US Government informant Alexander Johnson as a "master manipulator and con man".

"To him this was a pay day. This guy was looking for his jackpot. This is how he makes a living," Markus said.

But lead prosecutor Jim Preston countered Markus' claims by telling the jurors that Myrie was "neck deep" in the conspiracy to distribute cocaine and said it was his actions that caused Mack and Thomas' arrest. Preston said Thomas was brought into the deal by Myrie.

During his address to the jury, Preston on several occasions walked over to Myrie and pointed at him for emphasis.

"Based on the evidence, the Government has presented its case beyond a reasonable doubt," Preston said while urging the jurors to return with a verdict which says, "Buju Banton, guilty as charged".

Judge Moody, in his summation to the jury, instructed them that not because Banton was on the spot when the contraband was being inspected meant he was guilty of conspiracy. He instructed them to carefully weigh the evidence of a convicted person or a paid government informant because they may have a motive to give false statements.

Johnson has been paid $50,000 for his work on the Banton case and has been a paid informant since his conviction on drug-trafficking charges in 1996.

The judge also informed the jury that their decision had to be unanimous to stand and instructed them that in cases of entrapment they had to find Myrie not guilty if he was not previously willing or if it was because a Government agent enticed him.

Banton, following the judge's instructions, turned around, with hands clasped, and motioned to his supporters that they should pray for a favourable outcome.

Banton's lawyers have been claiming that he artiste was entrapped by the Government and Johnson, whom he consistently referred to as a con man.



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Huh ku jännittää. Hope & pray for Buju to walk free today


Psalms 23 - Buju Banton ft Gramps (Lyrics)




Gramps Morgan feat. Buju Banton - Power of Prayer






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Eikö kuulu vielä mitään?

Never Grow Old.

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