Modesko Nyandeh was recently convicted of the murder of Annie Phakala, a market woman in 2007 between the Le-leh and Gayetayea towns, 60 miles north of Gbarnga.
Modesko was accused of killing the woman for unspecified reasons while accompanying her to Leh-leh Town to buy palm oil. She was a trader of palm oil from that part of Liberia to Monrovia.
Court accounts say on their way, Modesko murdered her under a tree, left a knife by her side, and returned to Gayetayea Town. In his testimony in court, he admitted to escorting the victim, but denied ever killing her.
“I did not reach her to Leh-leh. I only escorted her and stopped on the way… and I told her that I was going back to town, and she went. The next morning I just heard that she was dead,” he told the court.
Prosecutors basically used this testimony to convince the jury that Modesko committed the murder.
In the meantime, Milton Dormue, another resident of Gayetayea Town who lodged the victim while on her way to the next town for oil, was also arrested in 2007 and charged as co-defendant in the case.
However, he was acquitted by the jury for lack of evidence to link him to the killing.
Interestingly, the jury in 2008, unanimously found Modesko Nyandeh guilty for murder, and he was given a life sentence, but his lawyer filed an appeal to the Supreme Court against the conviction.
Having reviewed the case, the Supreme Court set aside the conviction and sent the case back to Gbarnga for re-trial – a trial that has now produced a judgment that heavily surpasses the 2008 ruling.
The Daily Observer’s Marcus Malayea in Gbahnga said Wednesday that after judge Paye finally ruled last week, the defense lawyer again immediately announced an appeal, praying that the Supreme Court of Liberia hears the case.
The defense counsel said the judgment was erroneous. On the other hand, prosecutors claimed that justice was duly dispensed with.
However, the court granted the defense lawyer’s appeal in keeping with the usual judicial practice.
Our correspondent quoted the Attorney of Bong County Cornilius Flomo Wennah as saying, “President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf and the Supreme Court would have to approve the death penalty before it can be executed by the state. The final ruling will not automatically take effect.”
Our correspondent did not say when and where exactly his ‘hanging to death’ will take place.
During the final ruling last week, family members, friends, and onlookers flocked the court – eager to hear the outcome of the case that has drawn a huge public attention in central Liberia.
Relatives and family members including the fiancée of convict Nyandeh burst into tears, as he was handcuffed and bundled into a waiting vehicle to be remanded in jail pending the processing of his case.
Presently, life imprisonment has been an alternative to death penalties in Liberia.
Application or enforcement of death penalties in the country appears to be downing, probably due to some ‘international treaties’ Liberia signed few years ago.
However, the Liberian constitution did not abolish death penalty, a reason, why judges still announce such sentences if necessary in trials.