TAMPA - Claims that a Grammy-nominated reggae singer is being treated inhumanely in jail while awaiting trial on drug charges are "lies," a federal prosecutor said today.
A lawyer for singer Buju Banton filed a motion Monday saying his client had been placed in maximum security because he "had the audacity to share his food with another inmate."
Defense attorney David Oscar Markus also claimed Banton had lost 40 pounds because he was denied the vegetarian diet he requires for religious reasons. He said Banton's "mental and physical health has been rapidly deteriorating," and that the transfer has hindered his ability to prepare for his April 19 trial.
But Assistant U.S. Attorney James Preston presented evidence that Banton, whose real name is Mark Myrie, has gained 11 pounds.
Banton was 150 pounds when was booked into the Pinellas County Jailon Jan. 5. After Markus filed his motion, Banton was weighed again and the scale read 161 pounds, a jail official testified.
Markus challenged those records, asserting Banton's weight when he was booked was just an estimate.
But Pinellas sheriff's Capt. Mark Fletcher said the numbers were supported by records kept by jail medical staff, who have weighed Banton several times during his detention.