*Who knew embattled reggae star Buju Banton was up for and won a Grammy on Sunday? Yep, he won the Best Reggae Album Grammy for “Before the Dawn.” While we’re sure he’s grateful for that bit of good news, he’s also got the super serious issue of being tried of drug trafficking charges to deal with.
Actually, beginning yesterday, jury selection for Banton’s new trial began in Tampa, Fla., the state where Buju was arrested for allegedly possessing and attempting to distribute over 5 kilos of cocaine.
The selection process took two hours, during which time 14 jurors were selected to sit on the panel for the retrial, according to boombox.com. Though the jury is largely white, the jurors have sworn in court that race will not play a factor in the case, nor will Banton’s celebrity status have an impact on their decision.
“Buju is optimistic and hopeful,” said his attorney, David Markus. “He is in good spirits. He is a rock. No one realizes how hard it is to fight the federal government in one trial, let alone two.”
In the retrial, the reggae star faces additional charges of attempted possession with the intent to distribute cocaine, possession of a firearm in furtherance of a drug-trafficking offense and using the wires to facilitate a drug-trafficking offense.
“The prosecution is trying the oldest trick in the book: They are throwing everything against the wall hoping that something sticks and it’s not going to work,” said Markus.
The retrial is expected to last a week or two. If convicted, Banton could face 20 years in prison.