|Posted by msvibez on June 10, 2011 at 1:53 PM|
JAMAICAN Grammy Award-winning reggae artiste Buju Banton wants the court to impose a prison term below the mandatory minimum sentence of 15 years at his sentencing hearing later this month.
Banton, whose real name is Mark Myrie, is scheduled to be sentenced on June 23 in the Sam M Gibbons Federal Court in Tampa, Florida, United States. The artiste was convicted in February on charges of conspiracy to distribute five or more kilogrammes of cocaine, possession of a firearm in the furtherance of a drug-trafficking crime and using the wires to facilitate a drug-trafficking offence.
The documents asking for the reduced sentence were filed yesterday by his legal team led by attorney Oscar David Markus.
"The 10-year minimum mandatory sentence for the drug count and the five-year minimum mandatory consecutive sentence for the gun count are unconstitutional in this case because it constitutes cruel and unusual punishment in violation of the Eighth Amendment and also because it constitutes too severe a penalty for proceeding to trial," the lawyers noted.
The lawyers also stated that the court is well aware that, according to United States v Booker, a sentence "calculated pursuant to the United States Sentencing Guidelines is no longer mandatory". The lawyers also pointed out that Banton's limited role in the drug offence entitles him to a reduction in sentence, while citing the artiste's good character and clean record as it relates to the offence for which he was convicted.
"Throughout both trials, it was clear that the significant players in the December 10, 2009 drug transaction were Isaac 'Ike' Camon, a major drug dealer in Georgia, as the buyer; and Alex Johnson as the seller. Not Mark Myrie," said the lawyers.
Ian Thomas, a friend of Banton's who was instrumental in the drug transaction, was sentenced in May to 51 months' imprisonment after pleading guilty and assisting the prosecution.
Banton's first trial in September last year ended with a hung jury, resulting in the second trial in which he was convicted. The artiste was arrested at his south Florida home in December 2009.
Yesterday's document also contained letters from actor, activist, and humanitarian Danny Glover, as well as from several of Banton's 15 children, asking for the court's leniency.
Banton's pending motion seeking acquittal and for a new trial will also be heard on June 23.