By DAGBAYONOH KIAH NYANFORE II
Early this month, June, this author discussed the murder of Charloe Musu, a young female university student in Liberia. She died in the house of former Supreme Court chief justice Gloria Scott. Mrs. Scott was her traditional mother in African culture. According to the information, Charloe lived with her since the deceased was a girl. This edition updates the case.
On June 21, 2023, the Liberian National Police (LNP), through the Justice Ministry, arrested Mrs. Scott and three other co-defendants for murder, criminal conspiracy, and false reports to law enforcement officials regarding Charloe Musu. On June 22, LNP detailed the arrest, indicating that there was no intruder into the house by their investigations. That the defendants killed the deceased, conspired, and reported to LNP that an intruder murdered the victim.
Upon the arrest, supporters of the former Supreme Court judge complained that the arrest was politically motivated and asked that the defendants be freed. Seemingly, the support was for the former Supreme Court judge and not the other co-defendants, ordinary Liberians. Former Liberian President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf “described the case of Cllr. Scott as a sad day says that Liberia’s Justice System has reverted to the bad ways of the past, “which I have personally experienced.” Sirleaf’s expression refers to her imprisonment during Samuel Doe’s regime for criticizing and insulting the government. Some observers reacted that her statement was uncalled for because her jailing was for advocacy while Scott’s is for killing. Nevertheless, Counselor Tiawan Gongloe, a presidential candidate, called the arrest unfair and unfortunate. A director of a justice movement stated that LNP has a conflict of interest, that the police cannot be trusted, and that an independent counsel should be appointed for the case. Nyowo Scott, a son of Mrs. Scott, called the arrest political and said his mother and the other defendants were innocent. “The murderer is out there, and nobody is saying [anything],” he said. However, other Liberians are pleased that the government has finally taken action on the case and hope justice will be served because no one is above the law.
A team of over 30 lawyers is representing the defendants. The attorneys include some of the best legal minds in Liberia with Philips Banks, retired associate Supreme Court judge, and Counselor Negbalee Warner, past dean of the Louis Arthur Grimes School of Law, University of Liberia. Regardless, the court denied the lawyers’ appeal for bail. The defendants are in a maximum security cell.
On June 28, the Special Grand Jury indicted the defendants. The document says, among other things, the following.
- That, on February 22 A.D., 2023, at about 10:00 pm, the Defendants Clir. Gloria Musu-Scott, Gertrude Newton, Alice Johnson, and Rebecca Youdeh Wiser, with criminal minds and intent, armed with a sharp instrument believed to be a knife, and pepper spray, willfully, intentionally, purposely, and maliciously inflicted several bodily injuries on the person of Charloe Musu, including her chest, right hand, left thigh and left armpit, which led to her death, thereby committing the crime of murder.
- That the Defendants knew what they had done was wicked and barbaric, and co-defendant ClIr. Gloria Musu-Scott, being an experienced lawyer and criminal justice practitioner, decided to lie by creating a story that would shield them from the gruesome act of murder. That is why Defendant Gertrude Newton narrated a story that no reasonable mind would ever believe; that after the man allegedly stabbed the deceased in the back, she took the knife from him, but he took it back from her, indicating that the multiple wounds found on the body of the deceased were inflicted by the alleged man who no evidence has established ever existed. That co-defendant Scott also lied that she pepper sprayed the man in his face after she encountered him in the doorway of her room.
- In an attempt to cover up the truth about what transpired in the house, the defendants decided to concoct a story that a known man entered the house and stabbed the deceased to death; but to the contrary, it was the defendants who murdered the deceased after they were involved in an altercation, evidenced by the outlook of the room when the investigators appeared on the crime scene.
The defense has requested that the trial venue be changed from Monrovia, Montserrado County, to a different county, arguing that their clients would only get a fair trial if the city was not too involved in the case. According to experts, the request is within the law, and the court should grant the appeal. This means the case could be heard in Margibi County or Bomi County, the nearest counties to Montserrado. The defense also has called for bail again, saying that the persecutors have failed to name a single person committing the murder.
Some experts have pointed out that it would be difficult to get a murder guilty verdict since the weapon has not been located. But the persecutors believe they would win based on the evidence and witnesses. For instance, the state maintains that there was no intruder into the house and that a security guard came to the house upon hearing “a crying sound coming from inside the house,” and found the deceased’s body in co-defendant Scott’s private bathroom with bloodstains. Her living quarter is separated from the general quarter with a secured bar. Moreover, the victim’s face is said to have “a foreign substance believed to be a pepper spray,” which collaborates with Scott’s earlier statement that she discharged pepper spray. Why was the victim’s body in her bathroom?
The case should start in August this year. While Liberians look forward to the trial, the government has asked the public for calm, withheld sentiments, and allowed the law to take its course.