Monday, November 26, 2012 at 6 a.m.
Incarcerated reggae star Buju Banton is heading back to court at the end of December and may well end up getting a whole new trial on the questionable drug and gun charges that he's currently serving ten years for.
Last week, Judge James Moody decided to grant Buju an evidentiary hearing and bring four members of the jury that found the singer guilty into the courtroom for questioning. The move comes after juror Terri Wright told New Times that she researched certain legal aspects of the case while the trial was ongoing.
The judge has ordered that Wright, as well as three other jurors, appear in the Tampa federal court on December 20 for questioning. The judge is looking to "determine whether jurors were exposed to extrinsic information" during the trial.
The other jurors that have been called in for questioning are Frank Arnone, Janice Benoit, and Steven Boyce. New TImes attempted to contact all three over the course of reporting but did not hear back from any of them. According to the new court order, the jurors were selected alphabetically.
After the judge filed the order, Buju's attorney, Chokwe Lumumba, filed a motion asking that the judge also bring in three jurors the New Times did interview, as well as this reporter. The judge has yet to respond to the request.
Overall, New Times has interviewed four jurors who found Buju guilty of two drug charges and a gun charge back in February 2011. All four jurors, however, agreed that the gun charge was without merit and some said that they would have found Buju innocent of it if they could have.
One juror even said it was a relief when the trial judge tossed the gun charge because nobody thought the singer was guilty of it.
Even though the gun charge was tossed, an Atlanta appeals court reinstated it earlier this year. The singer could ultimately end up getting five years added to his already decadelong sentence.
More Buju Reporting