“Very Terrible Situation”

Monrovia-Jan-12-TNR: After studying the guilty verdict passed on his clients, Cllr. Gloria Musu Scott and three members of her family, the lead counsel, Cllr. Augustine Fayiah has taken an exception to the decision of the trial jury to come down with a conviction and sentencing them to life imprisonment and vowed to challenge the ruling at the Supreme Court of Liberia during its March Term of Court.

Speaking to an anchorman of the Voice of America, James Butty, Cllr. Fayia who did not mince words to hold contrary view against the sentence read by the Judge of the Criminal “A” Court at the Temple of Justice, Roosevelt Willie, said “The Sentence is a very, very terrible situation, but that is the court verdict and we take it as it is.”

“We are challenging the Court’s judgment and we are going to go to the Supreme Court. We have appealed officially to the Supreme Court. In the next term of court, which is in March, we will be confronting the Supreme Court with evidence because we believe that the state did not prove its case and that is our reasoning”, he said.

He explained that the defense lawyers are not condemning the judge for doing whatever he did because under the law whatever the judge has to do he has done as a matter of his  official function; and he believes in whatever he has done. The defense counsel said Justice Scott and her family have been sentenced into life imprisonment, even though the evidence the judge relied upon does not fit; but he pointed out, “that is what the judge concluded.”

Asked whether life sentence is in line with the sentencing guideline of Liberia, the defense lawyer responded in the affirmative, but clarified that even though there are some international protocols that inhibit death penalty, said however that death penalty has not been officially removed from our books “so we have death punishment for the crime of murder or life sentence.”

“But what the judge has done is that although there is no convincing evidence the state has not proved anything but he gives the maximum penalty to Justice Scott and family members”, he said.

On Tuesday, Criminal Court “A” Judge Roosevelt Willie pronounced life sentences on the former Chief Justice, Cllr Gloria Musu Scott and three others for what the court considered their involvement in the killing of the late Charloe Musu, a graduating senior of the Starz University of Technology, and a niece to the Justice. The victim was stabbed multiple times when an alleged assassin visited the residence of Justice Scott in Brewersville, Virginia following two previous attempts of burglary on the Justice’s home late February 2023.

The state through the Grand Jury of Montserrado County indicted Justice Scott and three of her relatives including the former Chief Justice, Cllr. Gloria Musu Scott, Gertrude Newton Alice Johnson and Rebecca Wisner for Murder, criminal conspiracy and making false alarm to law enforcement officers.

Although probationary report by officers of the Ministry of Justice did not establish whether or not the defendants had prior criminal records before the commission of the crimes, Judge Willie, reading the sentence during the last hearing on Tuesday said a witness testimony revealed that after the occurrence of the accident the former Chief Justice drove to Justice Minister Frank Musa Dean stating that what she once feared had happened.

He maintained that with such a statement, which presupposes concerns that there might have been an occurrence between the defendants and the deceased, and therefore laid the basis for liability of the crime of murder.

Earlier, eleven out of the twelve empanelled jurors voted guilty of the crime while one of the jurors was not convinced that therefore voted the co-defendants not-guilty; but the defense lawyers have appealed the verdict and sentence to the honorable Supreme Court of Liberia for judicial review of the jury’s verdict and subsequent ruling by the judge sentencing the co-defendants for life imprisonment

Following the judge’s ruling, former Chief Justice Scott and family members broke down in tears, saying that the judge’s decision was based on a report from the government of Liberia’s pathologist Dr. Benedict Koilee.  The former chief justice and seasoned Liberian jurist maintained that the government pathologist, Dr. Kuleesaid he had mixed DNA on the remains of Charloe Musu, a decision that informed the judge’s decision.

Also speaking on behalf of the defense lawyers Atty. Dixon Tamba said there were no medians between the deceased and the defendants proven by prosecution lawyers against the defendants as even the pre-sentencing (probationary) report gave good account for the defendants.

Atty. Tamba stressed that the prosecution’s pathologist informed the court that a male DNA was found, something that was resisted and disproved by the defense investigator.

For his part, Montserrado County Attorney Cllr Alhaji Swailho Saysay said the victory did not come as a surprise as the defendants committed the act of murder.

Cllr Saysay maintained the appeal taken by the defense lawyers is part of the legal process, adding that once they did not file motion for a new trial it speaks to the fact that they conceded with the jury’s verdict.

According to Cllr Saysay, there was not a doubt that the defendants committed the crime of murder as evidenced that the former chief justice could not exonerate herself from the indictment.

During argument, the defense informed the jurors that Dr. Matthias Okoye told the court that the defendants did not kill the victim, and that there was a force used against the victim. Dr. Okoje displayed the DNA sample and none of the defendants did the act. Dr. Okoye is an American trained Nigeria born pathologist who was imported to cross-check reports of the government’s pathologist, Dr. Kulee

The defense said prosecution witness Zion Tarr told the court and jurors that he heard a noise coming from the former Chief Justice’s residence, and as a security guard assigned at the residence went to see what was happening when Co-defendant Gertrude Newton told him that an armed robber jumped on them in the house.

The Prosecution witness testified that defendant Newton asked what Tarr had on him, the witness said he had a cutlass which he used to cut the steel window bar. But the defense lawyers questioned the prosecution witness whether a cutlass is strong enough to cut a steel without binding or breaking, and whether it was possible for the particular steel window bar to be removed by the cutlass.

The defense further argued that Dr. Okoye informed the court there was a male DNA found in the middle left-hand fingernail of the deceased Charlie Musu and further reported to the court that Charloe died of blunt-force trauma as a result of multiple stabbing wounds caused by an instrument that is not a knife and the stabbings were caused/done by a muscular male.

The defense further argued that the government of Liberia falsely accused the defendants of the crime, and told the jurors to look at all of the evidence that was provided in court and hand down a not-guilty verdict.

“Free these people based on evidence because there is no evidence to link the defendants” the lawyers of Cllr. Scott and the Co-defendants pleaded before the guilty verdict was delivered.  But as the jury came from their room of deliberation, they handed down a guilty verdict except for one who said the defendants were not guilty.

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