MONROVIA, Montserrado – The Supreme Court affirmed a previous ruling by Associate Justice Sie-A-Nyene Yuoh to transfer the murder trial of the late Super FM journalist Tyron Brown, to the 11th Circuit Court in Bomi.
Brown was allegedly murdered on April 15, 2018, in Paynesville by Jonathan Williams. Two others, Alice and Edwina Youti, were also charged with obstructing law enforcement officers investigating the killing of the journalist.
Williams’ lawyers had filed a motion to Criminal Court A in November last year requesting for a change of venue while the lawyer for both Alice and Edwina Youti also requested that his clients be tried separately from the murder suspect.
Williams’ lawyers argued that because the victim was a journalist and a resident of Montserrado, the jurors’ decision in the case would be unfairly influenced because they would be from the same county of the victim prior to his death.
The Youtis’ lawyer also argued that his clients should not be tried along with a murder suspect because the court did not have jurisdiction over their case, given that a charge of hindering law enforcement is a crime under the jurisdiction of the magisterial court.
But both requests were denied by Judge Roosevelt Willie of Criminal Court A. Also denied by the judge was Williams’ request to waive his right to a jury trial because the jurors on the case were selected from Montserrado.
The judge’s decision led the defense lawyers to file appeals before the then-justice-in-chamber, Yuoh, who ordered the transfer of the case to Gbarpolu, as requested by defense lawyers.
The prosecution, however, also, filed an appeal before the full bench of the Supreme Court to overrule Yuoh’s decision and provide a final ruling in the matter.
The Supreme Court listened to the arguments of both the defense and prosecution in July but reserved its ruling for a later date.
In its ruling last Thursday, the court affirmed the Yuoh’s decision, noting that the trial judge erred when he denied Williams request for change of venue and waived his right to trial by jury.
As for the Youtis, the Supreme Court ruled that the trial judge lacks jurisdiction to try the offense, a first-degree misdemeanor which can only be heard in a magisterial court.
“Wherefore and in view of the foregoing, considering the ruling of the chambers justice is hereby affirmed and the trial involving Jonathan is ordered to be transferred to Bomi County and is hereby so order,” Justice Yussif Kaba read the court’s opinion.
Featured photo by Zeze Ballah