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 (11/26-12/2)
30 photos Launch gallery
1. Little Legend and Puddy 😍😍😍😍
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2. "You on point Phife?" "all the time,Tip". 💥 #bannedfromnormal
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3. Vegan! The Impossible burger at Crossroads
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4. Lawrence #BeforeandAfterEpisodes 1-4: 184lbs 13% body fatEpisode 8: 196lbs 8% body fat S/O @coachdaveboxing with the works outs and @kildareriordan with the nutrition
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5. Jus haaaanngin out
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6. Meanwhile back at home in Atlanta GA someone mad they not on the 🛳. 😳
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7. No limits... Photo cred: Chris Bridges @ludacris
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8. new new
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9. Apparently my 260lbs is too much for the actual vines in the Hawaiian jungles to hold me without breaking and me falling hundreds of feet. So for safety purposes, I'm forced to swing thru #Jumanjj on wires strong enough to hold 12 adult buffaloes and 1 adult Rock. #OnSet #Jumanji #IronicallyIEatBuffaloDailyForLunch #MoreManThanNatureKnowsWhatToDoWith
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10. hey ma! 🎎#wcw 💙
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11. Surprise visit to our factories!!! #GoodAmerican #USA
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13. Peachy Keen 🔥✨⚡️
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14. If this don't look thankful I don't know what does. Happy Thanksgiving to you and yours. #UltraBlessed #24kMagic #SweetPotatoFly
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15. Late nights @nbcmarlon with the writers... we in here!!!
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16. There goes my baaaaaaaaabbbbyyyyy #QueenKingMagic!!! We're up to something! Ira BIG!!! Stay out our buisness -
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17. You want to win every game you play but when you come home to these faces... who cares. #ILoveYouGirls best part of my day, everyday!
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18. Steady,steady..... full size jenga.. "I got this one "???? Or do I ?
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19. Cornrows kind of day 😉@dontaysavoy2 you convinced me and I love. ❤️️
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20. #BrotherlyLove #tbt
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22. #basel #TeamLOVE @kingcombs
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23. Just introduced a special screening of @directher 's groundbreaking (must see) documentary @13thfilm with my brother @themichaelealy | @unitedblackout #blackoutblackfriday
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24. Me & Vanessa Williams giving #DuckLips #Pose on the set of #DaytimeDivas @vh1 - Coming Soon to a tv near you. Lol. - My make up done by @makeupsurgeon
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25. This picture just makes me wanna praise the Lord, you hear me!!!!!! Yes Lord brotha #TEDDYCAMPBELL What a #man !!! You are everything right on this picture husband ......... #gorgeous #stylish #classy #strong #masculine #king #sexy #debonair #gentlemenstyle And that #bible in your hand just seals the deal for me (probably cause i know that, that is what helped you become just as amazing as you look😘). While my heart and mind experiences the goodness of God at #church on Sundays, my eyes experiences the goodness of Teddy😍. Amen somebody🙌🏽. "Bless the Lord oh my soul and all that is within me bless his holy name" #myman #myhusband #goodman #blackman #dapperman #godlyman #goodfather #mybestfriend
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26. Yesterday was my mama's 53rd birthday!!!!! Got to celebrate with her all day. If this is what I have to look forward to I can't wait. Looking like a soft bucket a cocoa butter. Yaaaaaaaaaas! 😍😍😍 love you mommy!
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27. "Shout out to @PureAtlanta for getting the family right"....I'm loving this jogger. 😍😍
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28. This pic warms my heart ❤️ #myLogiebeans and aunt aunt umba @itowandabraxton 😘
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29. You will always be my baby😜. #HappyBirthdayReginae #mybaby18
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30. GC "Gods Child" Red on Red SweatSuit available now at www.MonicaApparel.com ... Take Your Crown wherever you go!! I'm pictured in a Medium... Go to the site now for other options ... cc: @trukernell
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