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One of the biggest names in Dancehall & Reggae, superstar Adidja "Vybz Kartel" Palmer has been found guilty the August 2011 murder of Clive "Lizard" Williams in a high-profile trial. The incident allegedly took place at Kartel's home in Havendale, St Andrew.
The 11-member jury handed down its verdict minutes after 6 p.m. in Jamaica, less than two hours after deliberations began. Kartel and three co-defendants, Shawn Campbell (a.k.a. Shawn Storm), Kahira Jones and Andre St. John found guilty; a fourth associate, Shane Williams, received the sole non-guilty verdict. Parts of Jamaica's capital city, Kingston, were cordoned off in advance of the verdict and police patrols were stepped up.
Sources in Kingston says that Kartel's tattoo covered bleached skin made him stand out from the crowd. The "World Boss" as he calls himself also often glorified violence in his music.
The 65-day trial was the longest running criminal hearing in the history of Jamaica's circuit court system. A strong police presence was assembled in the vicinity, cordoning off streets around the Supreme Court before Thursday's session started, seeking to prevent any disruption by the entertainer's fans or detractors.
Shortly before the jury started to deliberate in the afternoon, about 200 people briefly broke through barricades at one intersection shouting "Free Kartel!"
The sentencing date is scheduled for 27 March and Kartel's lawyers have indicated they will appeal the verdict.
When Kartel was arrested in 2011, it was alleged he had been involved in two killings, but one of those cases was thrown out last year after key evidence went missing.
Prosecutors said that Williams was beaten to death at Kartel's home in August 2011 after being lured there to account for two missing illegal guns. A body has never been found but police testified that they had unearthed a text message from Kartel's phone saying Williams had been chopped up to "mincemeat" so fine that his remains would never be found.
Defense lawyer Tom Tavares-Finson told jurors the prosecution's case against Kartel was "dishonest" and "incompetent", steadfastly maintained that the case is a conspiracy by the police to frame Palmer noting that witness statements and a compact disc with evidence saved on it had gone missing.
In a bizarre twist to the case, a male juror was arrested on Thursday evening on charges of attempting to bribe the jury foreman to free Kartel, who was convicted by a 10-1 majority verdict.