2 Persons Acquitted Of Murder Charges -Gbarpolu Judge Says Prosecution Evidence ‘Hearsay’

GBARPOLU COUNTY – The Assigned Circuit Judge at the 16th Judicial Circuit County for Gbarpolu County, His Honor Wesseh Alphonsus Wesseh, has acquitted two defendants, John Seward and Francis Johnny, of the crimes of murder and criminal conspiracy following some three weeks of trial.

The two defendants were among several persons indicted by the Government of Liberia for allegedly killing one John K. Yarsiah on September 27, 2023, in Bombo Village, Gbarpolu County, and then dumped his lifeless body into the Mahair River in the county.

Prior to the arraignment of the defendants, the state prosecution led by Cllr. Gabriel Wleh, County Attorney for Gbarpolu, entered series of nolle prosequi in favor of some of the defendants, who appeared in court as state witnesses in the trial.

Defendants Seward and Johnny, represented by the county defense lawyers led by Cllr. Legbah M. Molubah, were arraigned on May 22, 2024 and then pleaded not guilty to the indictment. Thereafter, the defendants waived trial by jury.

Under Liberian law, a person convicted of murder may be sentenced to life imprisonment or death.

During the trial, Judge Wesseh,  who sat as trial of fact and  of the law, that is as jury de-facto, heard and received evidence from the both sides, with the combined  productions  of 12 witnesses and entertained final arguments  pro-et-con on Thursday, May 31, 2024.

Judge Wesseh, during his June 6, 2024 ruling acquitting the defendants of murder and criminal conspiracy said that the prosecution’s evidence adduced during the trial was  wanting, inconclusive and left  a deep hold in the criminal indictment formed and brought against the defendants.

He also said the prosecution did not establish the guilt of the defendants with legal certainty to have excluded every hypothesis of the defendants’ innocence.

Judge Wesseh further indicated that in every criminal trial, the defendant is presumed to be innocent until the contrary is proved and that the state is under legal obligation to prove material allegations that are set forth in the criminal indictment.

As such he concluded that the prosecution’s evidence was based on a mere hearsay and speculation, failing to provide the touching evidence to link the death of the deceased to the defendants.

He then ordered the clerk of the court to send a mandate to the Bopolu Central Prison to release the defendants without a day.

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