TAMPA, Fla. (AP) — A Florida juror who voted to convict Jamaican reggae singer Buju Banton on drug charges has denied improperly researching the case during trial, despite a weekly newspaper’s report that quoted her as saying that she did.
Banton is serving a 10-year prison sentence for his convictions on cocaine conspiracy and trafficking charges stemming from a 2009 arrest. The Grammy winner faces an additional five years for his conviction on a related gun possession charge, but his resentencing hearing was postponed to investigate the report of juror misconduct.
Banton’s attorneys have filed a motion in Tampa federal court seeking a new trial. If granted, it would be the second mistrial for Banton, whose first trial in 2010 ended with jurors deadlocked. He was convicted in 2011 in his second trial.
U.S. District Judge James Moody reserved judgment Thursday on the defense motion.
Jurors were told during the trial not to do any independent research into the case. Terri Wright, a juror from Banton’s 2011 trial, was quoted in a Miami New Times report as saying that she researched parts of the case even though the judge had ordered jurors not to.
“I would get in the car, just write my notes down so I could remember, and I would come home and do the research,” Wright was quoted as saying.
New Times reporter Chris Sweeney testified Thursday that he interviewed several jurors. Sweeney also provided the court with a recording of his interview with Wright.
Wright testified that she sent Sweeney a text message after seeing his story, saying there had been “a huge misunderstanding with (Sweeney’s) questions.” Wright’s text message also read, “I did not violate the judge’s instructions with this case. I did my research AFTER the case was over and the verdict was given, NOT during the case. . I trusted you and now feel totally betrayed.”
Wright testified that she only researched Banton’s music and the federal Pinkerton rule, which involves liability among conspirators for the actions of other conspirators.
There was no proof that Banton possessed a gun or was aware that a co-defendant did, but because of the Pinkerton rule, Banton was convicted of a weapons offense. Moody tossed the gun charge, but an appeals court reversed that decision.
Wright said she told Sweeney that she had been a juror seven times before serving on Banton’s case, but she did not volunteer that information to prosecutors or Banton’s attorneys “because that wasn’t a question” during jury selection.
Moody called a sampling of three other jurors to ask if they remembered hearing other jury members talk about doing outside research. Two testified that had not heard anything, but one said she recalled a white female juror saying she had researched the Pinkerton law. Wright is black.
Assistant U.S. Attorney James Preston said Banton’s defense had not met the legal requirement for a mistrial by showing that the jury was exposed to outside evidence that posed a reasonable possibility of prejudice to the defendant.
Defense lawyer Chokwe Lumumba said jurors were ready to acquit Banton, whose real name is Mark Myrie, before Wright shared her research.
Banton is popular in his native Jamaica and won a Grammy for his last album before his drug conviction.
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This Week’s Celebrity Instagrams (10/15-10/21)
31 photos Launch gallery
1. Just a NY girl with BIG dreams....
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2. HAPPY CHILDREN=QUALITY PARENTING. We don't always see eye to eye on everything and that's normal. We're human beings. But we come together and do it right for what's important, the kids. We are not enemies, we are parents. And we are parents 1st. S/O to @monyettashaw for making Mason's bday memorable. S/O to @itscrystalsmith at home taking care of our other lil' Prince. ❤️❤️❤️ THIS IS WHAT CO-PARENTING LOOKS LIKE. #Blessed #Happy #AboveTheDrama #BiggerThanUs
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3. So happy to finally be able to share with you all that I’m the new Global Brand Ambassador for @Revlon! Follow my day on RevlonSnaps. Yay! Choose Love, Everybody! #RevlonXCiara #chooselove #ad
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4. Glam on point!!!@makeupbymotoko & @shaylinjoneshair #easybreezy @lifetimetv #beachesmovie #january2017 😘
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5. ✨True love ✨📸: @jessiemarrerophotography
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7. Today was not easy..but by the grace of God we all got through it. Words cannot express our gratitude for all of your Prayers, Positive thoughts and Support for us throughout the years. Tommy will be missed but most certainly never forgotten...And PLEASE don't ask "Where's Martin?.." he was there too...just not in this picture. Lol! God bless you all.. #LoveConquersAll #MartinShow
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9. West coast get ready for #RockyHorror. I will be live tweeting again. #letsdothetimewarpagain
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10. #THEKEYS pre order yours now ... Available everywhere #NOV22 #WeTheBest 🔑🔑🔑🔑🔑🔑🔑🔑🔑🔑🔑🔑🔑🔑🔑🔑🔑🔑🔑🔑
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11. We about to ROCK at #KCABlackBall!! All for our life-changing effort to end 🌎 AIDS.
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12. Today's #SNAPJACK is brought to you by @yazzthegreatest 😂😂😂💋💋💋
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13. Damn girl you kinda old to be headed to the Go Go. You coming in at the age they leaving. LMAO
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14. Daddy daycare B-Boxin with @acewellstucker @shopraisingace
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15. #FBF Naviyd & URV "LIL MONSTERS"
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16. HAPPY BIRTHDAY TO ONE OF THE BIGGEST LEGENDS IN OUR HIPHOP HISTORY! @snoopdogg CONTINUED BLESSING AND LOVE FAMILY!!!!! REAL OG!
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17. Thank you for a beautiful night VSU! Let's do it again! #HOMECOMING
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18. Had a great time this morning with my familia Erica, Griff & Truth!!
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19. Check out my interview on @essence facebook live. #inmyownwords #nycpromo #day2
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20. #She💋 #tbt #TheCoveAtTheAtlantis #DawgPawsAndAll
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21. Bae #retailtherapy
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22. Why me and @coryhardrict got the same pose... and notee... new mouth #naked
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23. When my husband is my personal 'hype-man'! it kills me every time! 💜😂 #WHATNOW #lostfiles📷
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24. Diggy Simmons
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25. Hand full of @jacquieaiche 💙💎💍 @esnail_la 💅🏾
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26. SuperSoulers! You can watch my interview with Carl Lentz live from my Facebook page, tomorrow at 11a ET| 8a PT. #SuperSoulSunday
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27. 💋 .. When the friendship is easy like Sunday morning. ☀️
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28. Sunday mornings are the best........... hugs and cuddles with my angel
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29. #huggar16 #hellohuggars
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30. My gym is everywhere!.. #RnBMoney #TheGeneral 📸: @twelvepastseven
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31. Nothing I would rather be doing... Rocko setting up our movie, Romelō working on a puzzle & Laiyah singing and sharing all she's learning at school... I'm so grateful for the joy they've brought into my life ... Praying for peace , joy & love in the home of EVERY family ♥️ #HeadScarfPJSunday LOL 😂
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