By: H. Richard Fallah
MONROVIA: The Presiding Judge of Criminal Court “A,” at the Temple of Justice in Monrovia, Roosevelt Z. Willies, warned State Prosecutors in the trial of former Chief Justice of the Supreme Court of Liberia, Gloria Musu Scott, and three of her family members on murder and other charges to stop delaying the case by providing one witness at a time.
On Monday, September 4, 2023, Judge Willies urged the Lawyers who are representing the Liberian government against what he described as “repeated delays” in the trial on the part of State Prosecutors.
The Presiding Judge also told the Prosecution Lawyers to provide their witnesses to prove their case against the Defendants and not to continuously keep the accused in jail by providing one witness at a time.
According to Judge Willies, the State Prosecutors have about seven witnesses on the indictment, and as such, producing one witness at the time is not helpful for the case.
Judge Willie’s concern comes after the prosecution’s request for continuance, noting that the said witness would be available during the next day’s sitting; something which the Defense Lawyers resisted.
The Defense Lawyers also requested the Presiding Judge of the Court to deny and dismiss the application by the State Prosecutors.
The Criminal Court “A” Judge after the requests from both parties said the Court will be constrained to accept the continuance but warned the prosecution to bring its witnesses as stated in the indictment and not to keep bringing one witness a day during the trial.
Meanwhile, the Prosecution’s first witness during the day`s hearing, a private security guard, who works for “Genesis Security Guard Service” and assigned at the house of the former Chief Justice of the Supreme Court in Brewersville, identified as Zion Tarr, explained that the incident occurred on February 22, 2023, when he heard a noise at about 9:30 pm.
Witness Tarr testified that after hearing the noise, he (Tarr) went to where the noise came from and he saw Co-defendant Gertrude Newton to their window, shouting that armed robber had entered the house.
Witness Tarr informed the Court and Jury that Co-defendant Gertrude told him (Tarr) to use his cutlass to cut the window bars because the door was locked, and he (Tarr) did as he was instructed with a cutlass, thereby allowing some community dwellers to have entered through the window after they heard the noise.
The witness (Tarr), also clarified that he did not enter the house while the family was shouting.
He noted that he did not know what happened inside the house, but only noticed the former Chief Justice, Gloria Musu Scott, along with Charloe Musu, now deceased, being placed in a vehicle to get her to a hospital.
It may be recalled that on Wednesday, August 2, 2023, the Prosecution filed a motion for a Change of Venue, stating that the within-named defendants, Gloria Musu Scott, Gertrude Newton, Rebecca Youdeh Wisner, and Alice Johnson were arrested, investigated, and charged by the Crime Services Department (CSD) of the Liberia National Police (LNP) for the commission of the crimes mentioned.
That, before and during the hearing of the aforesaid Petition for the Writ of Habeas Corpus filed at Criminal Court ‘C’ and also before the arrival of the defendants, for the first time, the entire courtroom was filled with spectators including supporters of the Defendants, while others were in the courtyard discussing the merits of the case as said acts are legally unacceptable and counterproductive to the conduct of an impartial trial; and that, when the defendants were expected to appear at the Monrovia City Magisterial Court at the Temple of Justice and the Criminal Court “A” for Montserrado County, on June 21, 2023, and July 4, 2023, respectively, a large crowd of people gathered at the Courts mentioned above to witness the aforesaid proceedings and they were repeatedly discussing the merits of the case which is totally against practice and procedure.
The government also argued that when the defendants were denied the right to bail at the Monrovia City Court on June 21, 2023, and when they were committed to jail for the first time at the Monrovia Central Prison,( South Beach) located on UN Drive, hundreds of unidentified people stormed the aforesaid prison in an unusual and or irregular manner, a situation which is not healthy or conducive for both the within defendants and other inmates, including staff/prison guards at the aforesaid prison facility.
The prosecution contended that, during these pre-trial periods and the three different times the defendants appeared on the grounds of the Temple of Justice, groups of people with mixed reactions, singing, chanting slogans, and dancing, with the anxiety of desperation, were often seen in the Courtyard discussing the aforesaid case and at the same time awaiting the outcomes of the proceedings, a situation which poses threat and uncertainty for all the parties in the aforesaid matter.
Barely a week after that motion was filed, the government, in a rather spectacular shocking twist, on August 7, 2023, withdrew its Petition for a Change of Venue.
Less than a month after the State withdrew the First Petition for Change of Venue, State Lawyers refilled the Petition, at the time it was expected that a full trial of the murder case would have started on Monday, August 28, 2023.
The government’s Second Motion for Change of Venue was filed on Friday, August 25, 2023, citing the very reasons (grounds) for which the First Petition was filed.
But, the last action by the State did not go unnoticed by the Defense Lawyers who expressed annoyance over the move.
The former Chief Justice, Gloria Musu Scott, Gertrude Newton, Rebecca Y. Wisner, and Alice Johnson were indicted by Special Grand Juror for Montserrado County for the crimes of Murder, Criminal Conspiracy, and Making False Statements to Law Enforcement Officers.
Justice Scott and the three family members have already pleaded Not Guilty to the charges levied against them by the State.