Award winning veteran dancehall artist Vybz Kartel was formally charged Monday (October 3) night with murder, illegal possession of a firearm and conspiracy to murder. The 35-year-old was originally arrested last Friday (September 30) for marijuana possession.
A news release from police officials said that Vybz, born Adidja Palmer, was questioned by detectives from Jamaica’s Major Investigation Taskforce (MIT) with Palmer’s attorneys present. A preliminary hearing for today was rescheduled after a miscommunication on the court docket resulted in a no-show from the singer.
Details from the release read, “The allegation is that on Monday, July 11, 2011, Palmer, along with other men, conspired to murder Barrington Burton o/c 'Bossie', a 27-year-old businessman/promoter of a Gregory Park address in St Catherine. Burton was murdered while he was standing with friends along Walkers Avenue in Gregory Park.” According to reports, a police military squad raided several houses owned by Kartel after his arrest. One of the locations turned up a burnt, decomposed body at a St. Andrews home owned by Vybz.
Kartel has performed songs alongside elite Hip Hop and R&B artists such as Eminem, Busta Rhymes, Rihanna, and Lil Wayne among others. The one time ally of dancehall figurehead Bounty Killer was once part of Bounty’s feared dancehall crew The Alliance before splitting off and forming the Portmore Empire. The sometimes controversial entertainer has been involved with spats both physical and musical with dancehall legend Ninja Man, and Bounty Killer as well.
Kartel made headlines when his feud with dancehall singjay (singer-deejay) Mavado drew deep lines in the sand between Jamaican youth. Their infamous Gaza (a nickname given to a Portmore neighborhood) vs. Gully (a section of Mavado’s Cassava Piece childhood home) made national news – forcing Jamaican prime minister Bruce Golding to intervene and settle their feud amid growing concerns of violence between the neighborhood in 2009.
Kartel's latest LP, Kingston Story, was released by Mixpak Records in June. Mixpak label head Dre Skull issued a statement regarding this sensational case. "Clearly, it's a tragedy that someone has been killed. I think it's important that we wait for the facts to emerge and urge a fair and thorough investigation. Vybz Kartel is an immensely talented artist whom I deeply respect. We had been planning to shoot a music video for his next single this coming weekend, so it goes without saying that we are shocked by this news," read the statement.
Kartel and his legal team are expected to plead not guilty to the charges, according to several reports.