Dancehall artiste Merciless said the murder conviction and subsequent life sentence imposed on Ninja Man is another black spot for Jamaica's entertainment industry.
"Is not a good look for dancehall music at all," said Merciless, who was one of Ninja Man's lyrical rivals for years.
"Zebra, Kartel, Buju and now Ninja ... it rough. Me just really hope say if them give Ninja a chance to record, him just gwaan use the time and make some good music from behind bars," he said.
Ninja Man joins Vybz Kartel as top dancehall entertainers serving life sentences for murder.
Vybz Kartel is serving a life sentence for the murder of Clive 'Lizard' Williams. He was convicted along with Shawn Campbell, Andre St John, and Kahira Jones in the Home Circuit Court in March 2014. His appeal is scheduled to begin in February.
Valerie Neita-Robertson, one of the attorneys in Vybz Kartel's murder appeal case, was Ninja Man's lawyer during his recent murder trial. She has signalled that the 'front teeth, gold teeth Don Gorgon' intends to appeal his conviction and sentence.
AT LEAST 25 YEARS
Ninja Man, whose given name is Desmond Ballentyne, must serve at least 25 years in prison before he is eligible to be released on parole. His son, Janeil, and co-convict, Dennis Clayton, will each have to serve 15 years behind bars. The sentences were handed down by Justice Martin Gayle in the Home Circuit Court.
The sentence imposed on Ninja Man, 51, means that he may not see freedom until he is 76 years old. The life expectancy of a Jamaican male averages 74 years old.
"He is strong so he can survive the sentence, but 25 years is not a good look for anyone," said Merciless. "Mi wouldn't wish dis on mi worst enemy. Me really hope him can win the appeal and come out so we can do some good music and lift up back dancehall. There is hardly anyone for me to clash with anymore," he said.
"Lawd Jeezas Christ, me feel it. Me really never wah see him go prison as he is a good artiste. Nothing is sweeter than freedom, and this is really a big blow to dancehall/reggae," he said.
He continued: "Ninja Man gave room for a number of younger musicians to earn some cash and to purchase houses and cars. He has done a lot of good for reggae music. This is a hard pill to swallow."
Another dancehall legend will be locked away for a very long time.
Ninja Man has been sentenced to life in prison for the 2009 murder of Ricardo ‘Ricky Trooper’ Johnson. The decision was handed down during his sentencing at the home circuit court on Monday. The artiste, whose real name is Desmond Ballentine, also received a 20-year sentence for shooting with intent. That sentence will be served concurrently.
The 51-year-old deejay will not be eligible for parole for 25 years
His co-accused, including his son, Janeil Ballentine, also got life imprisonment, with eligibility for parole in 15 years.
The ruling was handed down despite a handful of friends in the music industry, including Staciousand Carlene The Dancehall Queen, pleading for mercy on his behalf.
Ninja Man was convicted in November for the murder.
Ninjaman Lawyer Closes Argument Asks Jury To Free The Artist
Ninjaman and his son, Janiel, were found guilty of murder in the Home Circuit Court on Monday.
The dancehall legend, real name Desmond Ballentine, his Janiel, and Dennis Clayton were found guilty by a seven-member jury who deliberated for three hours. According to the prosecution, the three men murdered 20-year-old Ricardo Johnson, aka Ricky Trooper, from Marl Road, Kingston 13 in March 2009. The three weeks trial was held in camera behind closed doors, which means the public or the media did not have access to the courtroom.
Ninjaman, 51, and his two co-accused are facing life imprisonment for the crime. He will be back before the judge next month for his sentencing hearing and is currently behind bars. During the month-long trial, the prosecution introduced seven witnesses including a man who is in witness protection who testified that the three men fired two shots at him but he ran for his life. He was the star witness for the prosecution who argued that on the day of the murder, the three men had an argument with Johnson who was sweeping a yard on Marl Road. The men then left the scene and returned a short while later with guns blazing.
Following an investigation, cops arrested Ninjaman and his co-accused. The dancehall deejay was granted a JM$2 million bail in 2012 following numerous delays in the trial. The case has seen 23 mentions in the court and 17 delays up until last month when a judged revoked the deejay’s bail and ordered the trial be concluded. The murder case was tried in a special court that deals with cases over five years old with Justice Martin Gayle presiding over the high profile case. Ninjaman and his two co-accused have maintained their innocence and will likely appeal the conviction. He will likely be housed in the same Tower Street prison as Vybz Kartel.
Who is Ninjaman?
Ninjaman is one of the pioneers of hardcore dancehall music. The famed deejay was born in Annotto Bay, Jamaica, on January 20, 1966. He then moved to Kingston at the age of 12 and started deejaying at the age of 14 under the name “Double Ugly” while working with some local sound systems like Black Culture.
He changed his name in 1980 to Ninjaman and started deejaying on Killamanjaro sound system. That same year he released his debut single “Uglyman” and started being around artists like Early B and Super Cat who were established acts at the time. By the mid-1980s, Ninjaman started recording and producing himself and there he found his breakout hit “Protection” a song that features Courtney Melody. That song elevated his profile as a dancehall artist and from there he started working with producers like Ini Kamoze, Philip “Fatis” Burrell, Steely & Clevie, Bobby Digital, and King Jammy.
In the late 80s to early 90s, Ninjaman scored a number of hit songs and established himself as a clash artist thanks to his notorious clash with Supercat at Sting 1991. That clash is down in history as one of the most fierce lyrical battles in dancehall history.
In the early 1990s, Ninjaman cemented himself as a hardcore gangsta dancehall artist with gun songs like “Above the Law,” “Permit To Bury,” and “Murder Dem.” During that time he also started a heated beef with Shabba Ranks that would also played out on Sting during that period of dancehall.
Following some criticisms in the mid-90s for his hardcore gun lyrics, Ninjaman changed his name again to Brother Desmond and got baptized. He started recording as a gospel artist and also seek the church’s help with his battle with cocaine addiction.
Ninjaman attorney closes her argument in the Home Circuit Court on Thursday asking the jury to set the artist free.
The dancehall legend, whose real name is Desmond Ballentine, his son Jamiel, and Dennis Clayton will likely know their fate today. The jury is currently in deliberation since yesterday evening. The three men are charged with the murder of Ricardo Johnson, more popularly known as Ricky Trooper in the Kingston 13 area. The prosecution argued that they killed Trooper in cold blood over a simple domestic dispute in March 2009.
Ninjaman has maintained his innocence saying he had nothing to do with the murder. Prosecutor introduced seven witnesses who testified against the deejay once including a man who is in the witness protection program. He testified that the three men fired two shots at him but he managed to escape and ran. The prosecution asks the jury to return a guilty verdict to give the victim and his family justice.
Ninjaman and his two co-accused gave unsworn testimony in court. The judge gave his summation of the trial and gave the jury instructions on their deliberation.
If found guilty, the three men could be sent to prison for life for the murder. Ninja says that he is anxious to put the case behind him and return to his regular life.
Ninja Man Had a Heart Attack In Court, Halts Murder Trial
Ninja Manwill require an emergency heart surgery following his collapse in court last week Friday.
Sources said the dancehall icon suffered a mild heart attack in the Supreme Court on Friday morning while his murder trial was underway. A high court judge halted the trial on Friday which eventually proceeded on Monday. Ninja Man was brought to a local hospital by a police detail after he started complaining about chest pain and difficulty breathing.
The dancehall star’s attorney, Valrie Neita-Robertson, gave reporters an update on his medical condition. “We have the medical, Ninjaman has a serious heart condition, and he will have to have an operation which will require a recovery period of three to four months,” Neita-Robertson said. “So we want to finish this case as quickly as possible because Ninjaman cannot go under any stress right now and has to remain as calm as possible.”
Neita-Robertson added that Ninja Man heart issues is caused by stress from his murder case. She called on the judicial system to quickly wraps up the case so that the artist can go back to living a normal life. If convicted, Ninja Man, born Desmond Ballentine, his son Jamiel, and Dennis Clayton, could be sent to prison for life. The three men are on trial for the murder of Ricardo “Trooper” Johnson who was shot and killed on Marl Road, Kingston 11, in March 2009.
Cops say a number of eye witnesses identified the accused men of the killing, but they are maintaining their innocence. Ninja Man is in police custody pending the outcome of the trial. Last month a judge revoked his bail and ordered him back behind bars while the case was transferred to a special case which deals with cases over five years old. Get well soon Ninja Man
Ninja Man Returned To Court, Murder Trial Set For November
Ninja Man reportedly suffered a heart attack in court during his in camera murder trial on Friday.
The dancehall legend is currently on trial for a decade-old murder case, but on Friday morning a judge was forced to adjourn the trial after the deejay got sick inside the courtroom. Sources close to the artist told Dancehall HipHop that Ninja Man likely suffered a heart attack in court and was struggling to breathe.
“He requested to be taken to his private doctor but then his doctor send him to the emergency room,” sources told us. “It seems he had a mild heart attack because even his words were slurred and he was having some serious pain in his chest. It was a frightening ordeal, we thought that he was dying, but thank god he is okay now for the most part. The judge should give him bail while he is on trial, its crazy how they treating him.”
Ninja Man’s attorney, Valrie Neita Robinson, also confirmed that the deejay fell ill in court and was rushed to get medical attention. She said on Monday we will know when the trial will be concluded given this latest development. “We don’t know now [when the trial will conclude] that he has fallen ill. We will know on Monday,” Neita Robinson said.
Ninja Man, whose real name is Desmond Ballentine, his son Jamiel Ballentine, and another man name Dennis Clayton, are charged with the murder of Ricardo “Trooper” Johnson. Cops say the three men shot and killed Trooper in a yard on Marl Road, Kingston 11 in March 2009. An overseas-based witness was scheduled to give testimony for the murder trial when Ninja Man started complaining about chest pain and inability to breathe. The three men have denied having any involvement in the murder.