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Jury considering Buju Banton verdict {HeadLines}

Daraine Luton, Senior Staff Reporter

Jamaican reggae superstar Buju Banton is now waiting to hear his fate, as his future has been placed in the hands of the jury at his trial.

At about 9:40 this morning, presiding judge Jim Moody gave final instructions the 12-member panel and urged them to be cautious in their deliberations.

"Your only interest is to seek the truth from the evidence presented in this case," Moody said.

If the jury, which consists of three African American women, is unable to reach a verdict by 4:30 this afternoon, Buju will have to wait until Tuesday to possibly know his fate. Monday is a public holiday in the USA.

Banton, real name Mark Myrie, is facing four federal cocaine-related charges.

The lanky Jamaican musician walked to court this morning a concerned man knowing that if convicted on any of the counts he could be sent to prison for life.

Moody has warned the jury not to consider the issue of punishment if they believe Buju is guilty. "If you find the defendant guilty the punishment is for the judge alone," he said.

The US government, led by Jim Preston, has asked the jury to find Buju guilty on all four charges brought against them but Buju's lawyer David Oscar Markus said the US government has not proven beyond all reasonable doubt that the crimes have been committed. He has asked for a not guilty verdict on all counts.

The charges Buju faces are:

COUNT ONE: Conspiracy to possess with intent to distribute five kilograms or more of a mixture and substance containing a detectable amount of cocaine.

COUNT TWO: Attempting to possess five kilograms or more of cocaine

COUNT THREE: Knowingly and intentionally possessing a firearm in furtherance of and during the course of a drug-trafficking crime

COUNT FOUR: Aiding and abetting others in using a communication facility in the commission of a felony.

Moody has told the jury that the heart of a conspiracy is the making of an unlawful act.

He said that if the jury has doubt that Buju willfully and knowingly participated in the act for which he is charged in count one he should be found not guilty.

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