UPDATE: Today, the long-awaited trial of four-time Grammy-nominated reggae star Buju Banton got underway in Tampa, Florida. Buju Banton (nee Mark Myrie) and his high-profile attorney, David Oscar Markus, face a seemingly insurmountable uphill battle. However, even after Buju’s two co-defendants, James Mack and Ian Thomas plead guilty last week, Buju’s lawyer remains optimistic. “We are in good spirits. We are hopeful and we are confident. The truth is on our side,” Marcus told Red Carpet Shelley today. Marcus also confirmed that jury selections and opening statements were made.
A jury including seven women and only two African-Americans are now set to decide Buju’s fate. If found guilty, Banton could be sentenced to a minimum of 20 years to life in addition to a fine of up to US$4 million.
In December 2009, Buju was taken into custody after Thomas and Mack were arrested during an alleged drug bust in an undercover operation at a warehouse in Sarasota, Florida. All three were charged with conspiracy to possess more than five kilograms of cocaine with intent to distribute. In addition, Mack was slapped with a count of possession of a firearm in furtherance of a drug-trafficking offence.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.
Second Buju Co-Defendant Signs Plea Deal
Buju Banton’ is facing further woes after James Mack, the second co-defendant in the drug case against him yesterday signed a plea bargain deal with the United States District Attorney, agreeing to testify against Buju Banton. Buju will now stand trial alone on Monday, September 20. Mack’s deal comes five days after another co-defendant, Ian Thomas, also agreed to give evidence against the four-time Grammy nominee nee Mark Myrie. Continue reading….