Police Murder Trial Suffers Setback
The murder trial of late Chief Inspector Amos Tutu of the Police Support Unit (PSU) on Capitol Bye-Pass on February 27, 2010, has suffered a setback as defense demands Judge James W. Zotaa to recue himself from the entire trial.
But the Criminal Court “A” Judge says the counsels’ motion filed yesterday lacks legal basis on grounds that he neither bears blood relation to the party litigant nor with the deceased.
In a five-count motion filed by Attorneys Arthur T. Johnson and Swaliho A. Sesay before the Criminal Court “A” Thursday morning, the defense lawyers accused the trial judge of engaging in premature jury instructions under the guise of sustaining prosecution’s objections over the defense counsels’ questions posted to state witnesses.
The counsels alleged that Judge Zotaa consistently castigated them and their clients, branding them as “Small Children” in experience educationally and in the practice of law.
The motion further alleged that on Monday, June 11, 2012, Judge James W. Zotaa left his seat in the courtroom on grounds that prosecution’s second witness Abu Daramy’s testimony about the manner of death of the late Amos Tutu factored his hypertension; as such he could not continue with the trial on that day.
“In fact, as the witness was describing the status of the late Amos Tutu at the JFK Hospital and how he was fighting death, you immediately cut off the trial, giving the signal that prejudiced the defendants case,” the defense claims. Counsels Johnson and Swahilo argued that the murder trial continues to threaten them with contempt and incarcerations for no reasons.
The lawyers said the court has placed itself in a position, which makes it difficult to accord the defendants a fair trial, among others. Notwithstanding, Judge Zotaa among other things insists that a judge could only recues himself from trial when he stands to benefit from the judgment personally. The judge said in the instant case, he stands to benefit nothing personal, and has no blood relations with the parties in the case.
For its part, the prosecution earlier resisted the defense motion, terming it as delay tactics employed by the defense, and pleaded on the court to dismiss said motion.
The prosecution argued that the defense failed, refused and neglected to show any ground under the practice of law where a judge recues himself from a trial without a demonstrating and convincing evidence.
It can be recalled that in 2010, Inspector Amos Tutu, assigned with the Police Support Unit, was allegedly burnt to death by angry mob and street gas sellers for allegedly shooting to death deactivated police officer Preston Davis.
Court indictment says tussle ensued between late officer Tutu and Preston, when he (Tutu) had gone in demand of an amount he earlier paid to Preston for an apartment since he could not get the house. Preston allegedly struck Tutu with a gray galvanized pipe 4ft long and 6 inches wide, which reportedly caused Tutu to fire him (Preston) with his service arm (pistol).
In reaction to the incident, mob allegedly assisted by Patrick Davis of the Armed Forces of Liberia (AFL) attacked and overpowered Tutu and set him ablaze with half gallon of gas and matches.