By Lincoln G. Peters
Defense lawyers are seeking a retrial of defendant Retina Capehart who was recently found guilty of trafficking Liberians to Oman, claiming that the jury panel’s unanimous guilty verdict against their client on Tuesday, 19 April 2022 was materially contrary to the weight of the evidence.
The defense counsels for defendant Retina, also known as Aisha Kelleh, have filed a Motion for New Trial before Judge Roosevelt Z. Willie at the Criminal Court ” A,” Temple of Justice in Monrovia.
A jury panel of 12 persons found defendant Capehart guilty of Trafficking in Person after lengthy deliberation on the issue.
It followed final arguments between her lawyer, Cllr. Sennay Carlor and State lawyer Cllr. Wesseh A. Wesseh.
The court had reserved her sentencing for Monday, 25 April at 10 a.m. pending a comprehensive report from the Probation Office at the Ministry of Justice regarding her character.
The jurors’ unanimous guilty verdict was brought against defendant
Capehart, one of the perpetrators responsible for trafficking over seven Liberian girls to Oman.
The defendant faced trial here after being charged with Trafficking In-Person by the Liberia National Police (LNP) and forwarded to court.
Speaking at a pre-sentence trial Monday, 25 April 2022, Atty. Alphonso G. Woiwar, one of the defense counselors said, their action to file a motion for new trial is because the jury’s verdict was materially contrary to the weight of the evidence adduced during trial.
He argued that none of the prosecution witnesses testified to the facts that would lead a reasonable mind to conclude as to the operation of criminal motive by the defendant.
According to the Motion for New Trial dated 25 April 2022, Section 2.1 of the Criminal Procedure Law of Liberia requires proof beyond a reasonable doubt.
But the motion claimed that the verdict is contrary to the weight of the evidence, especially where the prosecution’s witness testimonies are inconsistent and contradictory.
The defense lawyers also prayed the court for a New Trial and for the court to set aside the erroneous jury verdict.
For their part, Prosecution lawyers did not resist the Motion that was filed by defense counsels but requested the court for time to look at the Motion depending on the time they received it.
Cllr. Wesseh A. Wesseh alleged that the motive to have filed another Motion for New Trial by lawyers representing the defendant after the Judge had scheduled the sentence for 25 April was intended to delay the Pre-sentence.
After the presentation by both parties, Judge Willie granted the Motion for New Trial filed by the defense lawyers and scheduled the argument for 26 April 2022 at 9:45 AM.