WEST CHESTER — The daughter of legendary reggae musician Bob Marley pleaded guilty Tuesday to charges that she grew marijuana in her Caln home and had tried to get rid of it as police stood outside the house.
Makeda Jahnesta Marley, the youngest of the star’s 13 acknowledged children, had almost a dozen full marijuana plants and three smaller ones in the basement of her home when police were called there for the report of a dispute almost two years ago.
Police caught Marley, 29, trying to sneak the plants out of the basement while they stood by with a man to whom she had sublet the house, owned by friends of Marley’s, with whom she was arguing.
She pleaded guilty to charges of manufacture of a controlled substance and tampering with physical evidence at a brief hearing in front of Judge Tomas G. Gavin. Dressed in a white blouse and black pants, Marley was accompanied by her attorney, Thomas Schindler of West Chester.
A formal sentencing hearing will be held in October after the completion of a presentencing report.
Assistant District Attorney Carlos Barraza, who is prosecuting the case, said that he had agreed to withdraw a mandatory one-year prison sentence for the amount of marijuana Marley had in her basement in return for the guilty plea. A trial had been scheduled to start Tuesday in the case.
Marley did not make any statement in court Tuesday, simply responding yes or no to Gavin’s questions about the rights she was giving up by entering the plea.
Marley still faces the possibility of jail time for the charges. State sentencing guidelines call for a possible sentence of probation up to a minimum of nine months in county prison.
Marley, 28, is a graduate of Coatesville Area Senior High School and West Chester University. She was born in Miami on May 31, 1981, less than three weeks after her famous father died of cancer in that same city. Her mother, Yvette Crichton, is the last of several women with whom Bob Marley is officially recognized as fathering a child with in addition to his widow, Rita Marley.
Bob Marley has extensive family ties in Delaware.
According to some published reports, Makeda Marley was a regular at Rita Marley’s house in Jamaica and later became a beneficiary of the Marley estate. She told Gavin earlier this year, however, that she had used up the proceeds of her estate and that she worked as a waitress.
Her father was an enormously popular and influential musician and helped promote not only reggae music, with songs such as “I Shot the Sheriff,” “Stir It Up,” “No Woman, No Cry,” and “One Love,” but also brought attention to the Rastafarian movement, whose followers worship the late Ethiopian leader Haile Selassie and use marijuana as an aid to spiritual enlightenment. Followers were known by their wild dreadlocks and large marijuana “spliffs.”
Caln police said they took 11 marijuana plants, plus a variety of instruments used to grow the illegal drug, which Marley’s father, a habitual marijuana user who popularized the drug as “Kaya” or “ganja,” championed, from her home in Caln on Sept. 10, 2008.
According to a police complaint in her case, officers were called to the home where Marley had lived for about 18 months for a call concerning a domestic dispute. When they arrived, officers found Marley arguing with a man named Howard Stinson, who sublet a room from Marley at the house. She was demanding that he leave and he wanted to get his belongings, including a washer and dryer he said were in the basement.
According to police, when they asked Marley if Stinson could get into the basement to retrieve his property, she said that the door to the basement was locked and she did not have the key. She claimed the key was in California with a friend.
When the officers suggested that the matter was civil in nature and that they would not interfere, Stinson allegedly blurted out that Marley was growing marijuana in the basement.
When the officers told Marley they would allow Stinson to break down the door to the basement to get his washer and dryer if he decided to, she suggested that she might be able to get a key from her friends’ parents in Sadsburyville.
While she left the scene with her son, the officers waited and spoke with their supervisor and a member of the district attorney’s office about ways they could legally search the property for evidence of marijuana cultivation.
At some point, Stinson went to the back of the house and then came back to tell the police that Marley was in the rear of the house getting rid of the marijuana plants.
When they investigated, Beach and Carboni told Gavin they saw Marley in the back yard with a marijuana plant at her side.
“She said she was trying to get the plants out of the house before we searched the basement,” Carboni said.
Marley was taken into custody and later signed a consent form allowing the officers to search the home.
Marley had sought to have the search declared illegal, but Gavin ruled against her motion in July. He also said that her statement about trying to dispose of the plants could be used against her at trial.