Chaloe Musu’s Murder Trial Turns Dramatic -As Solicitor General Suspended for alleged Jury Tampering

MONROVIA: The Chaloe Musu’sMurder trial case involving former Chief Justice Gloria Musu Scott and three others took a dramatic turn yesterday, Monday, September 18, 2023 when a high ranking member of the prosecution team allegedly embarked on  jury tampering, a felonious crime punishable by imprisonment or fine, which led to the suspension and fining of the Solicitor General of Liberia, Cllr. Nyanti Tuan.

Legally, jury tampering is a criminal offense that involves intentionally attempting to influence a jury in a criminal or civil proceeding or during a grand jury inquest which includes bribery to arrive at a certain verdict, using threats and intimidation to sway a verdict and having conversations with jurors about the case outside of the courtroom amongst others.

Although it is not established in what way the prosecution tampered with the jury in the murder trial, open discovery of the reported legal baffling drama yesterday at the trial of former chief Justice and three of her family members as co- defendants started when the trial judge of the case at Criminal Court “A”, Temple of Justice, His Honor Roosevelt Willie, appearing in a pensive and very serious mode in open court called for sidebar conversation with both prosecution and defense lawyers while at the same time ordering the sheriff of the court to take the defendants away from the courtroom.

Information from the court stated that at one point the judge appeared impatient and threatened to jail the sheriff if his orders were not speedily carried out, but the sheriff   informed His Honor, the judge, that one of the defendants had been excused to use the restroom.

Thereafter, the Judge summoned the parties into his chambers where, it is being alleged that the high ranking member of the team of State Prosecutors attempted to tamper with the jurors on the night of Sunday last week.

Amidst this travesty, what is not clear is whether this was done before the visit to the crime scene which took place on Thursday as per the mandate of the trial judge or not.

Notwithstanding, serious arguments were heard as both teams – prosecution and defense – walked into the hallway and outside in the open court amidst the hovering of reporters around who gathered that judge Roosevelt willie has conducted an investigation before he could summon the parties into his chambers.

In the meantime the trial is expected to resume according to reports from the judge’s chambers but some legal luminaries and lawyers were heard in discussions as to the legal basis upon which Judge Willie may proceed with the case, especially against the background of the gravity of jury tampering.

There are those who believe that the jurors should be disbanded and hence the end of the case or a mistrial or the matter being taken up to the chambers justice of the Supreme Court on certiorari and subsequently to the full bench if applicable to take possession of this investigation.

Accordingly, Criminal Court “A” Judge Roosevelt Willie, has suspended Solicitor General Nyanati Tuan on account of jury tampering. The court has also fined Cllr. Tuan US$250 for attempting to tamper with the trial jury in the murder trial who were sequestered at the Temple of Justice.

The court imposed the punishment on the government’s most senior prosecuting lawyer in the case on Monday, September 18, 2023, after an investigation conducted on claims that SG Tuan visited the quarter of the Sequestered Trial Jurors during odd hours on September 13, 2023.

The court said the Security of the Judiciary reported on September 15, 2023, that Solicitor General, Nyanati Tuan entered the premises of the Temple of Justice at 8:00PM on September 13, 2023, and interacted with the police officers assigned at the Jury Quarter.

Following the reading of the investigative report by the Jury Management and Judiciary Security in the Chamber of Criminal Court ‘A’ Judge, His Honor, Roosevelt Z. Willie on Monday, September 18, 2023, announced that Cllr. Tuan has been suspended from the murder trial and fined US$250.00 to be paid in three days.

Besides, officers in persons of: Amos Korkollie, Titus Massah, Webster J. Paye and Lassana Liazolu assigned at the Jury Quarter with whom the Solicitor General interacted are hereby expelled from the security team assigned at the Jury Quarter.

Solicitor General Tuan, in the presence of both prosecution and defense lawyers, admitted visiting the Temple of Justice along with some officers of the Liberia National Police on the day and date mentioned in the report, but argued that it was 5:00PM and not 8:00PM as mentioned in the report.

Meanwhile, the trial is expected to resume on notice of assignment  It can be recalled that the Government of Liberia has indicted the former Chief Justice and three of her family members Gertrude Newton, Rebecca Youdex Wisner and Alice Johnson for Murder Criminal Conspiracy, and making false statements to law officials; they were on Monday, August 28, 2023, the clerk of the Criminal Court ‘A’ at the Temple of Justice court read the indictment to the defendants who pleaded not guilty to the crimes alleged against them.

Since the start of the case, the started the production of witnesses with the prosecution’s first witness in the dock being Zion Tarr in the trial.

The first prosecution witness said that he did not enter the home of Co-defendant Gloria Musu Scott after he used cutlass to break the window bar. Tarr who had gone to testify in the alleged murder trial further said that on February 22, he went to work about 7:30 at the home of co-defendant Scott and did his security check before taking his duty post.

He spoke in open court on Monday, September 4, 2023, testifying further that while at his duty post, he heard co-defendant Gertrude Newton shouting that arm robbers had entered on them and that he should open the gate which he did not do because he never had the keys to it.

He further said that he used a cutlass to break the window bar to allow three of the defendants to pass through except for the victim and co-defendant Scott, stating that his  main focus was to help the defendants who were seeking help; although he testified further that he remained outside and observed the scene.

Witness Tarr is an employee of the Genesis Security Guard Service and he took his first assignment at the home of former Chief Justice Scott on February 17, seven days to the accident that led to the death of victim Charloe Musu, a graduating senior of the Starz University.

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