Nov 18, 2010

Buju wants gun charge dropped

Lawyers representing Jamaica's reggae superstar Buju Banton have filed a motion in court to have the gun charge against him dropped.

Buju, whose correct name is Mark Myrie, is set to be retried on charges of drug conspiracy and possession of a firearm during the course of a drug-trafficking crime.

But in documents filed in the US District Court in the Middle District of Florida on Monday, Buju's lawyers urged the judge to free him of the gun charge.

"As the court is well aware, the jury in this cause could not reach a verdict, and a mistrial was ordered.
"The government has indicated that it intends to retry the case. In the light most favourable to the government, the evidence was insufficient to convict Mr Myrie on Count 2, the 924(c) charge and, accordingly, Mr Myrie should only be retried on Count 1," Buju's attorney, David Oscar Markus, argued.

Amending the indictment

"First, there is no evidence Mark Myrie knew that James Mack (a co-accused) had a gun in his car. The undisputed facts at trial established that Mr Myrie had never even spoken to or met James Mack before being arrested in this case. As for the second element, there is nothing that 'links' Mr Myrie to this gun," added Markus.

The lawyer charged that having realised that it could not prove that Buju aided or abetted the possession of the gun, the prosecution attempted to amend the indictment after the close of the first trial.

"There is simply no evidence that it was reasonably foreseeable to Mr Myrie that Mr Mack would be present at this drug deal and that he would be in possession of a gun," said Markus.

The court is expected to rule on the matter shortly.

Buju and his co-accused, Mack and Ian Thomas, were arrested last December after US law-enforcement agents allegedly recorded them planning a drug deal.

Mack and Thomas, who were held when he went to purchase the coke, subsequently pleaded guilty and are awaiting sentencing.

But Buju, who has repeatedly claimed he was not guilty, faced the court in a trial which ended in a hung jury.
He is now out on bail and scheduled to return to court for a second trial early next year.

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