By Patrick N. Mensah, Maryland County
A court in Zwedru Grand Gedeh County has set freed three murder suspects days after it sentence prime suspect Moses Mlarmah to 47 years in prison.
The three murder suspects, Jeremiah Appleton, alias “Open zipper”, Leo K. Williams and Alice Davis were all co-defendants in the same murder trial that saw the conviction of Mlarmah.
The men were accused of murdering motorcyclist Mordious Nyemah in 2020.
The trio was tried separately as accomplices in the murder case that shook the people of Maryland County and led to violent protests.
The Jurors’ not guilty verdict was handed down on Monday, June 13, 2022, after the Court presided over by Judge George S. Wiles, heard final arguments in the murder case of the late motorcyclist.
The accomplices, including Defendant “Open Zipper”, were accused by Convict Mlarmah of participating in the murder but the jurors voted 10 to two to acquit them.
Lead Prosecutor Cllr. Wesseh A. Wesseh, said at no time had the prosecution team linked the freedmen to the case, rather it was convict Mlarmah who linked them. Therefore, he said the defense argument in court was purely based on Moses’ confession.
Moses pleaded guilty before the trial could commence, while the other three defendants provided contradictory statements during cross-examination.
Defense Lawyer Cllr. Rodney O. Moses informed the Jury that the prosecution didn’t prove their case beyond reasonable doubt, nor did they show evidence against the defendants to connect them to the crime of murder and criminal conspiracy, thus praying the court to release his clients.
The Defense lawyer relied on Article 21(h) of the 1986 Constitution of Liberia and Section 10, Chapter 10.4, Chapter 25 Section 25.5 and 25.6, respectively of the Penal Law of Liberia to plea for acquittal.
When asked whether the trio are free to return to their respective homes, Assistant Justice Minister for Litigation, Cllr. Wesseh A. Wesseh responded, “Where do you expect them to go to?”
“A criminal litigation is not to prosecute but to ensure that justice is done. Justice is done once a criminal defendant is convicted or acquitted”, Cllr. Wesseh explained.
He continued that in a criminal trial, the government cannot appeal from a jury verdict, if the trial was a jury trial, and from the guilty verdict of a judge, who sits as a jury de facto, adjusting a defendant guilty of a crime.
“Also, under our law, only the defense lawyer(s) may appeal from the verdict of a jury finding a defendant guilty and that of the judge who sits as a judge and jury to the Supreme court. They are going home because the Government cannot appeal the not guilty verdict of the jury!”
He reminded the court that there were a total of four defendants and only Defendant Mlamah pleaded guilty and was tried, found guilty and sentenced to 47years.
“For the three that were free, we have their trial separately but the jury free them for lack of evidence.”
“We could not adduce direct eyewitnesses account on the involvement of the three except what Mlamah told the police that he was sent by Co-defendant Leo K. Williams to kill a human being and bring him the parts and that he met “Open Zipper”, who joined him and they killed the deceased and took his blood to the wife of William’s since he was not home at the time”, Cllr. Wesseh detailed.
He said when the defendants were arranged in open Court, only Moses Mlamah pleaded guilty, and his guilty plea was set aside as per the law for government to prove its case against him since the crime he was indicted for was a capital offense.
“We brought in two direct or positive witnesses from Bessenken in Pleebo, who arrested him when they saw blood on his wearing after he had killed Mordeciou Nyenmah and told them that the blood was the blood of a baby cow that he has killed”.
“We also brought in two police officers who were part of the investigation and based on this direct testimony he was found guilty, but during the trial of the three persons, we only produced the same police officers as witnesses and we did not produce any direct witnesses”, Cllr. Wesseh concluded. Editing by Jonathan Browne