MONROVIA: The Criminal Court ‘A’ at the Temple of Justice, was on Wednesday, November 22, 2023, a scene of interest when Defense Expert Witness, Col. Nathaniel Sieh Hodge, questioned the professional and ethical validity of the police investigative report that led to the charging of Justice Gloria Musu Scott and three others.
Col. Hodge, a former assistant director for criminal investigation and intelligence at Liberia National Police (LNP), special assistant and deputy director for special services at the National Security Agency (NSA), told the court and jury that he believes the crime of murder was planned and built up over a period before it was committed by someone or persons order then the people being prosecuted.
He said as a member of the defense and court observation team to Justice Scott’s home, he was first interested in knowing the possibility of an intruder entering the premises without being detected, so he paid keen attention to the exterior part of the compound, where he observed that from the fence gate, there’s a tree very close to the fence in few meters that anybody wanting to enter the yard can climb, since the fence is not more than nine feet.
Col. Hodge explained that further down to the fence is another tree, which is a plum tree, that can be used by a criminal minded person to intrude into the compound, and furthered that from the beginning of the eastern point to the western point of the fence, there are two cornerstones, one short and one long about 4 feet that a person can climb on and look into Justice Scott’s yard, an experiment he said a female member of the visiting team tried and was able to see the inner part of the compound.
He mentioned also that from the western point to the northern point, there are several trees close to the fence, and at the back is a house that is also close to the fence with trees, many possible means of entry into the yard.
According to Col. Hodge, when he and other members of the team entered the compound, he also paid keen attention to the interior part of the fence and noticed that there are several trees planted in the compound that any criminal minded person can climb and stay there to wait for an opportunity to execute his or mission.
The former LNP and NSA top investigator further said he took a look at the outside and inside parts of the building itself and noticed that the vehicle park is at the front of the house and the family normally used the back to enter the house from the outside (country kitchen) to enter the house through the main kitchen.
On the evening of the murder, Col. Hodge he said he found out that Justice Scott drove home and the gate was opened for her. The gate, he said, has a central locking system and two small iron bars all of which take time to open.
The expert witness explained that Cllr. Scott then drove to the garage, where some items that were in her car were being towed through the kitchen into the house, and as an experienced investigator, he also believes that anybody wanting and waiting to enter the house could have used the time they were taking the items from the vehicle to sneak in because it would take not less than three minutes from the garage into the house, and therefore, somebody could have sneaked in.
“I also discovered that there is a guest room that was not being used by anybody at the time and so any intruder could have used the opportunity to secure himself in there,” he said, arguing that regarding the charges of murder, criminal conspiracy and giving false statements to law enforcement officials, he read the police charge sheet and read other statements made, but there is no indication whatsoever, to inform the court and jury that there was any bad relationship between the now dead person and those that have been charged.
Accordingly he said he could not understand why the defendants were being prosecuted for murder; wondering, “so what would cause four persons of the same family including a grandmother over 80 years old, to have murdered a family member.”
As for criminal conspiracy as mentioned in the police charge sheet, Col. Hodge said in his professional understanding, there must be a motive for the family members to have conspired because there’s no conspiracy without a motive. There has to be malice forethought, but in this case, it is not established by the police investigation, so, there are questions of who organized the conspiracy, why did they have to conspire to commit such heinous crime, murder.
He also told the court and jury that, as a professional, he also searched the police records and there is nothing called or identified as the murder weapon except that the police believes the murder was carried out by stabbing with a weapon believed to be a knife, but yet the defendants are charged with murder because according to the police, there was no intruder into the premises, failing to realize that there are different kinds or types of criminals, with different expertise, strategies and styles.
This, he said, tells him that the police wants to keep Justice Scott and family members charged under circumstantial evidence as basis, because according to the police, if nobody else was found in the house then those family members that were there that night are to be held liable for the murder.
Col. Hodge also dismissed the testimony of one of the government’s witnesses, Zion Tarr, a private security guard on duty that night, that he (Tarr) used a cutlass to cut steel bars from the window, something which is impossible because if such a cutlass was used, the entire blade of the cutlass would be broken and it is in fact not possible.
He reminded the court and jury also that after the doors were opened, several persons from the neighborhood including a Nigerian national identified as Christian Okonkwo, entered the house, and there is a possibility that within that period of those many persons entering, if an intruder was in the house, he would have exited to flee the scenes.
Col. Nathaniel Sieh Hodge is an experienced law enforcement official, a veteran criminal investigator and an intelligence analyst who, from October 1973, up to the early part of 2006, worked with the Liberia National Police-LNP as an officer, executive officer, Assistant Director for Criminal Investigation and Intelligence. He also worked at the National Security Agency-NSA from 2006 up to January 2018, working as Special Assistant to the Director of NSA and later on as Deputy Director for Special Services, the department that controls all investigations, including profiling.
It can be recalled that Justice Scott, a former Chief Justice of Liberia, former Attorney-Generals and Justice Minister and former Senator for Maryland County, testified on her own behalf recently and termed the government’s murder indictment against her and three family members as evil and wicked lies coming from people with a calculated ploy to destroy her and her family.
Justice Scott told the court and jury on Thursday, November 16, 2023, about her involvement in high-profile cases over the last three years, including the Nyonblee Karnga-Lawrence versus Musa Bility of Liberty Party, Senator Botoe Kanneh versus CDC, and Galakpai Kortimai/UP versus CPP and Musa Bility’s Liberty Party, the landmine Lonestar GSM versus Orange Liberia GSM case in the United Kingdom amongst others.
She said Charloe was murdered by an intruder and the charges on her are purely manufactured by people with wicked intent to get at her.
Justice Scott said the government developed no interest in finding the murderer of her niece, but had ever since preconceived and premeditated the charges against her from the very day of the murder.
The murder trial continues at Criminal Court ‘A’ with the defense team still producing witnesses.
It can be recalled that a team of over 30 lawyers that initially represented the defendants in the case considered the indictment and prosecution of the former official of the Liberian jurisprudence and legislature unfair and were convinced that the government would find it difficult to get a guilty verdict.
The entire story started on June 28, the Special Grand Jury indicted the defendants, when they charged among other things that on February 22 A.D., 2023, at about 10:00 pm, the Defendants Cllr. 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.
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 prosecutors believe they would win based on the evidence and witnesses saying for instance that the 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.
The case has since been called to trial at the Criminal Court “A” at the Temple of justice and our judicial correspondent said the prosecutors have exhausted their witness without bring to court the weapons used by defendants to murder their victim and to clearly state the motive for the conspiracy.