Murder instrument sparks debate in Court
Intensive debate erupted Wednesday, 5 December between prosecutors and defense lawyers when police officer Sergeant George Doe identified a civil knife with green handle that he claims was used by defendant Joetta Pinky Abul who is indicted for the murder of her fiance Morris Johnson.
When prosecutors presented a sealed knife in the courtroom and requested for its identification on Wednesday, 5 December, the third State witness unsealed it and said yes, it is “this knife that was used by the defendant.”Defendant Pinky is indicted for allegedly murdering her fiance, the late Morris Johnson at her S.K.D. Sports Complex Community residence at night in June, but she pleads “not guilty” to the charge.
Prosecutors are alleging that the defendant stabbed the deceased and caused his death during an altercation that erupted when he demanded to sleep at her house and she refused that night.Officer Doe says he did not witness the fight, but he was called by Genevieve and was informed that Pinky and her fiance were in a fist fight.
The witness says when he came out, he met Morris lying in the pool of blood.He also says when he and Genevieve and one other person took Morris to the John F. Kennedy Medical Center he (Officer Doe) returned to the crime scene, and a civil knife with green handle was laying in the pool of
blood. He says he lifted it from the crime scene as responding officer.
In a string of questions, defense lawyer Cllr. Arthur T. Johnson inquired if Officer Doe had knowledge on crime scene investigation on the basis of his testimony that he lifted the knife from the pool of blood and that he “barricaded the crime scene.”
Following Officer Doe’s affirmative response, Cllr. Johnson inquired further if he was correct to say as an officer, Sergeant Doe’s training requires that such a knife or alleged murder weapon will be taken with precaution, meaning he will not lift the knife with his bear hands to determine whose fingerprint is on the knife.
The defense’s inquiry prompted prosecution’s objection on grounds that the defense lawyer sought to entrap the witness.In their argument, the prosecution say a [traffic] police officer who is not schooled to forensics is not excluded from responding to crime scene. But they observe that Cllr. Johnson wants the officer to say he had a duty that he neglected to bring his integrity to public disrepute.
Montserrado County Attorney Cllr. Edwine K. Martin argues that the terrain of the crime scene was so volatile and the officer decided to protect the crime scene.He notes that when the officer observed the instrument that was used, he called the forensic team, contending that Officer Doe who does not have the expertise in forensics cannot be compelled to do what he is not
schooled to do.
Cllr. Martin adds that those that are supposed to address these technical issues will be brought to court by the State to testify.But Cllr. Johnson’s contention is that any officer who tells you that he
barricaded the crime scene knows about crime scene investigation.He notes that Sergeant Doe was speaking as an authority before the Court and jury when he testified that he “barricaded the crime scene”, and so he is not dealing with the witness as a layman but as an authority.
However, Criminal Court “A” Judge Roosevelt Z. Willie sustained prosecution’s objection and did not allow the witness to answer the question that tend to deal with the technicality of preserving the alleged murder instrument or the crime scene.
In his testimony, Officer Doe describes a deep wound on the right side of Morris, narrating that he and two other persons including Genevieve and another person who is now in the United States took Morris to JFK Hospital.
According to him, the Physician Assistant (PA) that was on duty came out to examine the deceased, and she (PA) told him that Morris was already dead before being taken at the JFK.He recalls that when they took the deceased at JFK, defendant Pinky followed in another vehicle with his co-officer. According to Officer Doe, the PA asked the defendant as to what had happened between she and Morris, but in that time, Officer Doe says the PA asked him out.
He recalls that the PA ordered him to take Morris’ body to any funeral home, but he refused and insisted that the hospital takes delivery of the body until the Crime Services Division (CSD) do further investigation, and “they” agree after two hours.
On grounds of the examination report given by the PA, Officer Doe says he immediately ordered the Liberia National Police (LNP) officers assigned at JFK to have defendant Pinky arrested and she was arrested.Additionally, he says he informed some supervisors of LNP, and he was advised that proper method be used to take the knife to be used as evidence.
He narrates that he returned and arrived at Pinky’s house where the incident occured. According to Sergeant Doe, he barricade the crime scene, noting that there was a civil knife with green handle that was found on the scene.
Prior to responding to the incident, he says Genevieve made it clear to him that Morris and his fiancee were in a fist fight and she (Genevieve) couldn’t contain the situation, following which he went on the scene.The trial continues at Court “A.”