Lawyer upbeat despite co-defendants signing plea deal
BY KARYL WALKER
Online editor email@example.com
Published Friday, September 17, 2010
DESPITE the signing of plea deals by two co-defendants, attorney David Markus says he is confident that he will prove beyond a reasonable doubt that his client, Reggae singer Buju Banton, is innocent.
Banton is scheduled to go on trial on Monday in a Tampa Florida court for conspiracy to possess with intent to distribute five or more kilogrammes of cocaine. The charge carries a minimum sentence of 20 years to life in prison and a fine of up to US$4 million.
His two co-defendants, Jason Mack and Ian Thomas, have both signed plea bargain arrangements and have agreed to assist prosecutors.
But Markos says he is not fazed by the new developments.
"Buju is still not guilty. In our mind everything is okay," Markos told the Observer.
Last Friday Mack signed an affidavit saying he did not know Banton, whose real name is Mark Myrie, before he was arrested with a firearm and more than US$100,000 during a drug bust in an undercover warehouse in Saratoga, Florida.
But in an about face Mack signed a plea deal on Wednesday in which he agreed to have his assets seized in exchange for a shorter sentence. Plea deals are signed between defendants and prosecutors and have no bearing on a sentence that a judge may impose although judges usually work on the advice of prosecutors.
Markos said Mack's action might not have any bearing on the case against Banton.
"I don't believe that Mack will testify against Buju because he will say he never knew him. I don't believe they will use him but let's wait and see," he said.
Banton has maintained his innocence and his attorney plans to argue that he was entrapped by an informant who was paid US$35,000.