Prosecutor Jack Sombo’s smile was triumphant when he shot the question at the witness for the prosecution.
“You met the accused thirty minutes before the announcement of the murder?”
“He told you that he had a case to settle with him?”
“And you told him to be wary of what he was intending to do?”
“Yes,” the witness said with a smile.
“What happened next, Timothy, when the defendant told you it was not your business?”
The spectators in the courtroom paid rapt attention and did not want to miss the prosecution witness’s answers.
The witness lifted his chin, and adjusted his position in the box, and said, “It was clear to me that the defendant had something sinister under his sleeves.
“Don’t think,” the prosecutor interrupted, “just tell the court what you know about what he said to you on his intention.”
“Ok,” the witness said, with reassurance, “I read his mind and knew that he wanted to take revenge on someone.”
“How did you know that, Timothy?”
“He told me that he had been with a woman, his wife for the last three years.”
“You mean Kathleen Kumba?”
“Yes,” he replied, “and he told me that someone had snatched the woman from him and he would not allow him to have a free ride.”
The prosecutor turned swiftly with a smile and seconds later ambled his way to the prosecuting table. He deliberately attempted to search for a document and just as suddenly as he had proceeded to the table, he walked leisurely to the witness. The brief interruption was expected to increase the tense atmosphere. Spectators in the courtroom followed him and his manner was like someone completely in charge of the situation. It was evident he did not care that after his examination, there was someone who was supposed to cross-examine the witness with the acidity of a warrior for the truth beyond every reasonable doubt.
As the echo of ceiling fans filled the room the prosecutor’s voice boomed, with the question, “What did he decide to do?”
The witness said, “He told me that if he would not have the woman then it meant that his rival could also not have her.
“Even though I did not think about it at first, because I don’t allow other people’s business to be mine, later I began to have second thought when news broke out that Mr. Thomas Taplah, owner of the Amalgamated Industries Limited had been murdered.”
“What then did you do?”
“I contacted the police and informed an officer that I may likely know the murderer.”
“What did the police do, Thomas?”
Wiping his brow, the witness said, “The officer invited me to the station and interviewed me.
“I told him everything I knew about the case.”
The prosecutor could not hide his success, since he considered the case open and shut case. The witness was providing information that could settle once and for all the circumstances that led to the murder. Though he could not fail to remember that the defense attorney was a hardcore cross-examiner, with an uncanny ability to confuse defense’ witnesses, he felt at ease nonetheless.
Sweeping his eyes across the spectators and with a sneer at the defense counsel Jason Doe, the prosecutor grinned with the comment, “Your witness,” as he walked leisurely to his table.
Defense counsel Jason Doe, who had all along absorbed the proceedings, was on his feet, a smile on his face, as he directed his gaze at the witness. It became clear to many in the courtroom that the resolution of the case would not be an easy task as the prosecutor had indicated.
After all someone had been killed and it was difficult for someone planning a murder to inform another about it, in the manner that had been brought out in the case so far.
In one of his best moods, Jason Doe walked to the witness, and with deliberation offered a grin.
“He told you someone has snatched a woman from him?”
“Why did he tell you about an important development in his life?”
“I have known him as a friend and I am sure he needed some advice from me.”
“Which,” the lawyer said, “suggests that you are a professional marriage counselor?”
The witness, perhaps aware of the craftiness of the lawyer shrugged his shoulders, and said, “I’m no counselor but he came to me.”
“What time of the day did he come to you?”
“Let me see,” the witness said, “it was about four in the evening.”
“Who was with you at the time?”
“I was alone.”
“Was that visit the first time he ever brought to your attention a situation that affected his life?”
The witness hesitated, and then said, “What are you trying to get at?”
The lawyer saw an opening, and said, “No I ask the questions and you give the answers, ok?”
“But if I don’t understand a question,” the witness replied, “can I ask a question back?”
The lawyer considered his answer for a second and answered, “I ask you a question: when the defendant came to you to inform you about what he was planning to do, was that visit the first for an advice of that nature?”
“Now I understand,” the witness said, and hesitated.
“And what is your answer?” the lawyer repeated.
“Well,” the witness said, stretching his neck, “it was the first time.”
“And so,” the lawyer continued, “isn’t it ironic a man who was planning to destroy another’s life would choose to go to someone who could not help him professionally?”
“I cannot know why he chose to come to me.”
“And,” the lawyer said, “You want this court to believe that the defendant chose to come to you, someone without any professional counseling expertise to explain to you what he was intending to do?”
The witness hesitated, and then said, “It does seem that I have not authority or knowledge to provide him, but I’m convinced that he came to me to share his agony and then to brag about what he wanted to do.”
“Which does not make sense, at all, right?”
The witness looked around him and he could see eyes, including those of the judge stared at him. He must have felt that his testimony was losing impact.
The case was at its sixth week and the collaborating evidence from the witness who claimed he was confided in, was sure people in the courtroom were suspicious of his testimony.
The defense counsel seemed to enjoy the repeated question he was throwing at him, and may be to torment him as a punishment.
Perhaps, he was in such a confused state of mind when he heard the defense counsel say, “Mr. Thomas Jolo, you testified that the defendant, Anthony Soma visited you on the day the victim met his death and bragged to you that since his wife had been snatched by somebody, he would not allow that somebody to go free…”
“Not exactly in those words as you put it,” the witness said, in a voice of frustration, “you make me to appear like I’m lying.”
The lawyer considered his reaction briefly, and smiling said, “Why are you agitated?”
“I’m feeling agitated because you don’t appear to believe me.”
“You remember that you swore to say nothing but the truth about everything you know about the murder of Thomas Taplah, owner of the Amalgamated Industries Limited?”
“Yes, I did.”
“And you have been speaking the truth about what happened in the case, though you don’t have the professional acumen to provide the kind of advice you claimed you offered the defendant?”
“To a point I have.” Then the prosecutor reacted, “Your Honor, what does this question have to do with the murder that the witness testified the defendant had confided in him?”
Judge Justin Weah lifted his head, and said, “The Court is interested in every facet of the case and will allow the defense all the laxity he needs to probe into the mind of the witness.”
“Doesn’t appear that the defense is prolonging the case with extraneous questions, Your Honor?”
Judge Weah replied, “The Court is aware of the length at which the exchanges can go and it does not need the prosecutor to remind it.
“Nonetheless, there is a reasonable amount of time that the Court can allow the defense, but I must stipulate that to ensure fairness, the Court will allow both the prosecution and the defense equal time in this case.”
“Thank you, Your Honor,” the prosecutor said, uneasily.
Jason Doe grinned and said to the witness, “To what point will a reasonable man confide in a man who admitted he does not have the capacity to offer such an advice, Mr. Jolo?”
Turning to stare at the prosecutor, he said, “To the point as far as the defendant came to me.”
With a glowing interest, the lawyer said, “Are you suggesting that there is another point that you have told this Court?”
The witness began to fumble with his hands, and the prosecutor jumped into his defense, again.
“Your honor,” he said, turning to look at the judge, “Counsel has reduced the case into a circus and I am inclined to state without any prejudice that the witness is simply confused about events leading to the murder.”
Judge Weah lifted his head and glared at the prosecutor.
Prosecutor Sombo went on, “This is a case that has weighed desperately against the defendant and the witness earlier testimony confirmed a revelation of the defendant before he committed the crime.”
Judge Weah said, “It is interesting that the prosecutor is making a case for the witness when in fact the facts of the case should come from events, whether circumstantial or otherwise.
“This Court is interested in this case since it has become apparent that this witness, among other things, knows more than he is saying.”
The judge hesitated as a murmur of appreciation from spectators swept across the courtroom.
“Evidently,” the judge continued, “it will be interesting…” And suddenly, the witness shouted from the box, “It’s ok there is nothing more for me to hide.”
The prosecutor said, “If there is anything you need to say other than what you have said, you need to…”
“No, no,” the witness repeated, “I will confess the real story about what led to the murder.”
The judge’s eyes glared at the witness, “You know what you are saying?”
“Yes,” the witness said, “I want to tell who killed Mr. Thomas Taplah, owner of the Amalgamated Industries Limited.”
The judge, surprised, said, “In that case, I want to see the prosecution and the defense lawyers in my chambers.”