Reggae singer Stephen Marley showed his dedication in seeing incarcerated deejay Buju Banton free when he offered to post his South Florida home to pay Banton’s bail.
Banton has been incarcerated since December when he was arrested by federal agents at his home in Tamarac, South Florida. He and two men were charged with conspiracy to possess with intent to distribute more than five kilograms of cocaine. Banton as since pleaded not guilty. The deejay’s trial started on September 20 and was declared a mistrial by Judge Jim Moodie when eight days later a 12-member jury failed to return a unanimous verdict after three days of deliberation. A new trial date will start in December on a date to be announced. If convicted, Banton could face up to life in prison.
Banton, however, was offered a US$250,000 bail on October 14 but is still in custody.
According to Banton’s lawyer, David Oscar Markus, the court was notified yesterday that Marley is willing to post his Miami-Dade property, valued at US$350,000, to secure Banton’s release. Originally, the money was to be provided by Joseph Chavalier, secured by his Florida residence, however, upon doing the appraisal the house was not valued for US$250,000.
Court documents filed by Markus stated, “Mr Myrie hereby notifies the court that Stephen Marley, well-known entertainer and son of Bob Marley, and his wife, Kertia DeCosta Marley, are willing to substitute as the signator for the bond in lieu of Mr Chavalier. His property is located in Miami-Dade county and has an approximate equity of $350,000. As evidence, Mr Myrie will provide the court with a recent appraisal of the residence, a title search, a copy of deed and mortgages, outstanding mortgage balances, and affidavits from Mr Marley and his wife.”
Stephen Marley, a six-time Grammy winner, had previously testified during Banton’s trial that the two have known each other for 19 years and that he has never known Banton to be involved with cocaine. Marley said Banton is important to Jamaica. Referring to Banton’s album Voice of Jamaica, Marley said, “That really sums up who Buju is to us.”
Banton, whose real name is Mark Myrie, returned to the US Gibbons Court yesterday to show that he has met the bail requirements. He must wear a tracking device and must have a security detail at all times. Under US law, the defendant must bear the cost of the security detail. According to Banton’s lawyer, he has contacted two security companies.
A report in the St Petersburg Times revealed, however, that there is no guarantee the reggae star will be released before his retrial in December. US Magistrate Judge Anthony Porcelli said Banton might not make bail before the trial. That’s because prosecutors plan to appeal the new bail conditions, and an immigration judge still would have to consider a hold on the native of Jamaica, the report also said.