Breaking news out of Jamaica this afternoon is that reggae dancehall artist Vybz Kartel, convicted along with three other accomplices for the murder of Clive “Lizard” Williams, has been sentenced to life in prison.
Twitter was very active, with users trying to predict the severity of the sentence. Dre1alliance Jamaica suggested that, at the very least, the convicted men would have to spend at least 15 years behind bars before being eligible for parole:
— Dre1alliance Jamaica (@Dre1allianceEnt) April 3, 2014
As it turned out, the sentence would only allow for a chance of parole after a much longer time:
BREAKING NEWS: Vybz Kartel sentenced to life imprisonment with hard labour. Not eligible for parole before 35 years #VybzKartel
— Samuel Thom (@SamuelThom5) April 3, 2014
— Dre1alliance Jamaica (@Dre1allianceEnt) April 3, 2014
Once the length of the sentence had been confirmed, netizens started commenting:
Well that's it for #VybzKartel
— Is She Gon' Pop™ (@LisaPreity) April 3, 2014
On Nationwide News’ Facebook page, readers were asked “What's your reaction to news that #VybzKartel has been sentenced to life in imprisonment at hard labour. Not eligible for parole before 35yrs?” Responses varied. Dave Brown said:
Happy because justice was served
Garfield Reid agreed, but also made the point that criminals do not come from only one strata of society:
I hope this send[s] a strong statement to youths, please refrain from the gangster life style because you will be next, but please my people there many more criminals out especially in the walls of the government who need to be brought to justice just like the WORLD BOSS
Damion Williams echoed this sentiment:
There is no justice in Jamaica if u can take a person phone August and have it in evidence, and September and October it still a use, and then material from it use in evidence – that is showing that Jamaica is for [the] rich and politician[s]. Peter Bunting come on National TV and say Vbyz Kartel [is] 1 of the 4 reason[s] [the] crime rate [is] high in Jamaica. Kartel got lock up 2 yrs and a couple months now, and the crime still high…
Keisha Hutchinson disagreed:
Everybody is living on the use of the cell phone in custody, that piece of evidence alone could never be the only thing that was used to convict Kartel! Seriously??????
Also referring to the acquittal of former minister Kern Spenser, one Twitter user quipped:
— Jeepers Queefers (@Chunchi) April 3, 2014
Others still couldn't believe the verdict, far less the sentence…
#VybzKartel sentenced to life in prison? I thought they had no body and no evidence? On what basis did they come up with this decision?
— Lynette John (@LynetteJohn) April 3, 2014
…while some still believed if you do the crime, you do the time:
— ☯тяιχιє вєℓℓє☯ (@trixie_belle) April 3, 2014
At WorldBossTeam.com, a website in support of Kartel, there were details of the sentencing:
Dancehall artiste, Vybz Kartel, has been sentenced to life in prison for the murder of Clive ‘Lizard’ Williams.
Kartel, whose real name is Adidja Palmer, is to serve 35 years before he becomes eligible for parole.
He and the three other men convicted for Lizard’s murder were each given life sentences a short while ago by Justice Lennox Campbell.
Adidja Palmer – LIFE IN PRISON (35 years before eligible for parole)
Shawn ‘Shawn Storm’ Campbell – LIFE IN PRISON (25 years before eligible for parole)
Kahira Jones – LIFE IN PRISON (25 years before eligible for parole)
Andre St John – LIFE IN PRISON (30 years before eligible for parole)
Justice Campbell handed down the sentences after hearing impassioned pleas for leniency from lawyers representing the men.
The post republished some elements of the trial and explored what the defence's current options were, considering that it “cited discrepancies, inconsistencies, missing data, and mismanagement in the collection of evidence as well as the integrity of the evidence”, specifically “the decision of the trial judge to permit certain phone evidence, given the admission by the police that the instruments were being used after they were taken into their custody.”
Kartel's legal team has already stated that it will be appealing the verdict.
Back on Twitter, some users were concerned about the effect that the sentence would have on dancehall music:
#VybzKartel given Life sentence in Jamaica – it's now left to be seen what impact this will have on dancehall.
— Shiloh PR (@shilohpr) April 3, 2014
I keep seeing posts of who's gonna replace #VybzKartel.. Uhm no ones gonna replace him , no one can
— ✨ Cam ✨ (@JamCamaria) April 3, 2014
Guensie G. asked:
When did it become cool to say "free (insert celebrity here)" just cuz u like them as an entertainer? Murder is murder #vybzkartel
— Guensie G. (@guensie) April 3, 2014
Others were not convinced:
I mourn the sentencing of my favorite artist #vybzkartel. If you powerfully speak out against big politicians they'll fix you.
— MuneneKinyuah (@MuneneKinyuah) April 3, 2014
Okayplayer.com also questioned the legality of the judicial process in Jamaica and juxtaposed that concept with what it considered the strength of Kartel's music:
— Okayplayer.com (@okayplayer) April 3, 2014
Interestingly, Kartel supporters were already touting Vybz Kartel, the next generation, since the performer's two sons are following in their father's musical footsteps:
— Wade Haye (@SwadeDaVillain) April 3, 2014
— Alicia//Free W-Boss (@Gazafansonly) April 3, 2014
That may just have to be the future of dancehall where Vybz Kartel is concerned – at least for the moment. As one Twitter user put it:
Time to unfollow #VybzKartel. No music or updates of worth coming from him for awhile.
— LJE Model Agency (@LJEModelAgency) April 3, 2014