Two rows of hard benches are placed in the middle of the back of the room.
To the right and left of these rows are placed another set of four smaller benches – just as uncomfortable as the first two.
Immediately in front of the benches in the middle – are two steps. One would believe that elevation of this sort is destined to be a grande place. But right atop these two steps is the prisoners’ dock – a cage of sorts on which the police hang handcuffs that restrain accused who are brought into the court.
In the dock are seated Adijah ‘Vybz Kartel’ Palmer,Shawn ‘Shawn Storm’ Campbell, Calvin Haye, Shane Williams, Andre St John and Kahira Jones.
Kartel can look down immediately in front of him and peer at counsel’s brief if he desires. Three rows of counsel’s benches are right in front of the dock. I doubt any lawyer would wish to trade places with a man who without the shine of money and fame – looks a shadow of himself -never mind the loyal fans who congregate daily in support of ‘Worl’ Boss’
From the prisoner’s dock, the accused are in reasonably close proximity to the jurors – they are in equally high seats to the left of the prisoners’ dock. The jurors have the burden of deciding the innocence of guilt of those in the lofty seats. Twelve ordinary men and women on the Jamaica Urban Transit Company Omnibus listen intently, watch body language, like, hate, despise, empathize with someone’s story. The accused hope its theirs but one never knows until the return of the verdict.
It’s Monday, the 18th day of November, 2013 – in good times, Kartel would perhaps be sleeping until very late afternoon. A life in the dancehall reverses sleep pattern of most. But times have not been good recently. Confined to a cell away from his usual luxuries and freedom has been his life since September 2011.
The charges are read out in open court and the once and still revered dancehall star stands to answer. He pleads NOT GUILTY, joining issue with the prosecution – they now have the duty to prove their case to the jury beyond a reasonable doubt. His co-accused, Shawn ‘Shawn Storm’ Campbell, Calvin Haye, Shane Williams, Andre St John and Kahira Jones plead likewise.
These are some of the actors in this enthralling production:
Presiding Judge Lennox Campbell; Senior Deputy Director of Public Prosecutions, Jeremy Taylor; Tom and Christian Tavares Finson (Kartel’s lawyers – father and son); Miguel Lorne (Shawn Storm’s lawyer)
Clive ‘Lizard’ Williams – a horrible alias for a man unless he lived on university campus (particularly Taylor Hall) – has not been seen since sometime in August 2011. The prosecution says he is dead. The defence team seem to be saying he’s missing. Kartel and his co-accused are accused of being part of a joint enterprise which accelerated or led the demise of ‘Lizard’
The prosecution alleges that in August, 2011- Williams, was carried to Kartel’s home in Havendale, St Andrew, where he was beaten to death. Williams’ body has not been found.
Fashion designer, Calvin Hay walked away a free man after the first day. The prosecution offered no evidence against him. The others remain -in the dock – accused.