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Crime & Punishment

I saw no dead body

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Government’s first witness in the murder trial of the late Liberian journalist Tyron Browne, Ms Massa Kennedy says she did not see dead body when she came outside of her apartment on the night of 15 April 2018.

Asked in cross examination by a defense counsel on Wednesday, 5 September at Criminal Court “A” if witness Massa saw any dead body when she came outside her apartment on the night of 15 April this year, she responded: “No Your Honor.”

Witness Massa and Juana Bracewell were among the indictees that prosecutors’ nolle prosequi [abandoned trial against] to serve as State witnesses in the murder trial which officially began on Wednesday September 5. They were the first two State witnesses qualified Wednesday to give testimony.

They lived in apartments in the same compound as defendant Johnathan Williams and his two “Nieces” Alice Youtey and Edwina Youtey in Duport Road, Paynesville where Tyron had paid a visit when he was allegedly stabbed with a knife and brutally murdered by defendant Williams.

Ms. Kennedy testified before a 15 – man jury panel Wednesday that while asleep on 15 April, she was awakened by her “Church Sister” Juana Bracewell and informed about noise that was “like armed robber is in the yard.”

Concerned about the information of noise “like armed robber” in the yard, witness Massa says she proceeded to the living room, but she did not hear any noise.

When she opened the door and went in the garage that separates her apartment and principal defendant Williams’ apartment, witness Ms. Kennedy further says she saw defendant Williams and his two “nieces” Alice and Edwina standing up.

According to her, she saw defendant Williams in a confused mood, and co – defendants Alice and Edwina were standing, facing each other and talking, but she did not hear what they were saying.

The State witness narrates that she asked what’s happening, and defendant Williams said to her that “somebody attacked me.”

According to Massa, she saw Williams’ T-shirt torn off, and she heard him called one of his nieces, saying to her “I think he’s hurt.”

Ms. Kennedy continues that she suggested to defendant Williams that “if he’s hurt, take him to the hospital.” But she says she “did not see anyone.”

Upon advising defendant Williams to take the unnamed person to hospital, Ms. Kennedy says the accused warned her to mind her business.

“So I went back inside and went back to bed.”

Following lawyers and jurors’ questions to the witness, her account prompted Judge Roosevelt Z. Willie to further inquire from her why she did say take “him” to the hospital “If you did not see anyone?”

“And the question posed to the witness is conditional because she said she did not see anyone beside Jonathan Williams and his two nieces. So my question, if you did not see anyone, although you were told or you heard Mr. Jonathan [Williams] saying that he’s hurt, why did you suggest that that person should be taken to hospital?” Judge Willie clarifies when defense raised objection to his inquiry.

But Ms. Kennedy maintains that she made the suggestion based on defendant Williams’ statement: “I think he’s hurt.”

Following Tyron’s murder, Ms. Kennedy says she was arrested at her residence along the Marshall Road in Margibi County on 20 April, following exchanges of phone calls between she and a lady only identified as Sonnie who said she wanted to see the witness for an apartment.

While awaiting caller Sonnie, the witness says she saw security persons all over the yard at her residence along the Marshall Road where she subsequently got arrested, taken to the Liberia National Police Headquarters in Monrovia and made written statement.

Alice and Edwina are facing a charge of hindering law enforcement. Prosecutors say they allegedly witnessed the incident but conspired with Williams, remained mute and concealed the murder from police and all law enforcement personnel.

After stabbing and rendering journalist Browne unconscious, defendant Williams allegedly conspired with co – defendant Caesar Kennedy and transported the injured body in Williams’ Infiniti jeep and dumped it on the roadside at the Kingdom Care Community in Paynesville.

The defendants allegedly washed the vehicle and burned the plastic that they had wrapped Tyron in to conceal and destroy all traces of evidence.

The trial continues Thursday, 6 September by 9:45 a.m. with continuation of witness testimony at Court “A”.

By Winston W. Parley-Edited by Othello B. Garblah

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