Characters in the story
Sam Dwalu—The suspect with tears of innocence
Anthony Kollie—The witness whose hostile behavior forced the judge to intervene
Willie Korboi Jones, the musician whose murder drew the attention of the community
James Layman—Prosecutor, whom the judge insisted to let due process find the accused
Jason Doe—Defense Counsel who believed his client was innocent
Eva Choloplay—The Judge who was concerned of the due process rights for both the decedent and the accused.
THE COURT reconvened after recess and Judge Eva Choloplay, said, “The witness may return to the box.” And turning to defense counsel Jason Doe, the judge indicated that it was time to resume his cross-examination.
The witness, Anthony Kollie, ambled his way to the stand. He adjusted his free-flowing shirt and stared directly into space with a puzzled expression on his face.
Counselor Doe stood up in deliberation, and in a swift moment, glanced at his wrist watch. The temporary effect was unexpected, for the witness attempted to smile. His face suffused with a smile at the corner of his mouth. It was so brief and it deserted him, for his mouth remained in a hollow position. He strained his eyes and there was a mock incredulity in his eyes. The witness then clamped his teeth together.
Judge Eva Choloplay, from her bench, waited patiently and seemed flustered. The brief silence in the courtroom ignited laughter from the spectators and the judge sounded her gavel for order.
Counselor Doe, moving closer to the witness, regarded him thoughtfully.
“You have known the accused for a short time?”
“Yes,” the witness replied, his glowing eyes emptily.
“And as far as you’re concerned,” the lawyer continued affably, “your relationship, if I can call it so…”
“We have no relationship,” the witness interrupted.
“Very well,” the lawyer countered, “then is it correct to assume that you can never confide in someone with whom you have had no relationship?”
“I would never do that,” the witness said, lifting his chin, “I can only trust those I have known for many years.”
“But you testified in this court that this man,” the lawyer made a dramatic turn, pointing to the accused, who seemed to have been staring into space, “informed you that he had collected U$25,000 from the decedent?”
The witness moistened his lips with his tongue, glanced somewhat helplessly at the prosecutor and the judge, then said, “Things happen when you less expect people to act normal.”
“Is your answer yes or no, Mr. Kollie?” Doe pressed on, his feet planted apart, his shoulder squared directly towards the witness.
Then suddenly, Prosecutor James Layman, sensing the tight spot into which the witness had been cornered, responded, “Objected to improper cross examination…”
“Overruled,” Judge Choloplay replied from her bench.
Counselor Doe’s eyes seemed granite, and his hands found their way into his side pockets. He withdrew them and folded them across his chest, then let them fall on his sides.
“Is your answer yes or no, Kollie?” the lawyer repeated.
“No,” he said, “I would not want…” The echo of the spectators’ murmur swallowed his response.
“And yet you want this Court to believe that this man that you could not trust, this man with whom you admitted you had no relationship told you what you claimed he did?”
“Yes,” said the witness in a whisper, “I think God exposed Robert.”
The courtroom exploded into laughter.
Counselor Doe watched the witness, and moving directly to the defense table, considered a couple of papers scattered there. He searched through them and in a practiced action, done as a result of dealing with scores of clients, shrugged towards the witness.
“Mr. Kollie,” he said, “you responded to my last question and I quote you, ‘I think God exposed Robert.’ To whom were you referring?”
The witness’ eyes grinning, he pointed to the direction of the accused, “That’s him there.”
“And his name now is Robert?”
“I know his name.”
“And so all your testimony has been against a Robert but not a Samuel Dwalu?”
The witness said, “I can swear to my ma.”
“Swear to your ma about your inability to remember names, Kollie?”
“That Robert Quelie is the one who told me about the money.”
Counselor Doe turned to the prosecution table and emitted a smile. Now walking back to the defense table, he pawned through a couple of sheets, and meeting the eyes of the accused, he nodded with a smile.
Returning to the witness, the lawyer said, “Mr. Kollie, is your real name Anthony Kollie?”
“Yes,” he replied, “I can swear to my ma about it.”
“You pointed your finger a while ago to the man who is sitting at my table there…” the lawyer said, and allowed the witness a moment to look at the direction indicated. “Are you still sure that that man over there is the one you know as Robert Quelie?”
The witness hesitated and with a smile, nodded.
“So now you have come to realize without anyone asking you that that man over there at the table that you testified about his involvement in the case Is Not The Man you received the information from?”
The witness nodded.
The lawyer saw the opening and went for it.
“Mr. Kollie,” he said, “does the name Doris Wloto mean anything to you?”
The witness shouted in haste, “Don’t mix her into this, because I have already been told about you.”
“Why not, Kollie?”
“Because our business has nothing to do with this case.”
“Can you tell the court who actually gave you the information about the missing U$25,000 and where were you when the musician Willie Koboi Jones was murdered on the night of September 10?”
The witness lifted his hands and covered his face, and cried out, “I can’t believe this, I can’t just believe this.”
When he dropped his hands, spectators’ were drawn to a young woman who walked briskly towards the witness stand. A bailiff interrupted her and marched her to Judge Choloplay.
Spectators in the courtroom looked more surprised.
Suddenly, Judge Choloplay asked for a conference with the lawyers and the young woman. Few minutes later, the group returned to court.
Judge Choloplay said, “This preliminary trial has turned to a dramatic finish and after consulting with this young woman, who gave her name as Doris Wloto, the court is going to permit the witness Anthony Kollie to answer to counselor’s question about the role Ms. Wloto played in the current affair and particularly the witness’ whereabouts on the night of September 10.”
Anthony Kollie said, fuming, “I know you will betray me; I know you will betray me.”
Judge Choloplay then said, “The court now understands that there are incriminating issues that are yet to be resolved and the court finds it compelling to order the release of the primary suspect, Sam Dwalu. The court is now convinced and stipulates that proceedings against the accused, to wit, Mr. Sam Dwalu be halted.”
As Cllr. Doe shrugged to his table, and the court waited momentarily from what the judge had said, bailiffs moved towards Anthony Kollie, who then shouted: “Women are devils, for I did not know that she could turn a viper and expose me.”
Judge Choloplay, realizing the frantic outburst of the witness, further said, “The Court will now order the witness held pending further investigations.”
Thirty minutes later, Mr. Dwalu sat in the lawyer’s private office on Benson Street in downtown Monrovia, and before him was a bottle of whisky. Jason Doe’s secretary Janet Lovebird reclined behind her personal computer and the former police detective William Boyd, rested in the big loveseat, with a grin on his face.
“It is over and it’s time for some vacation,” Janet Loveseat told the lawyer, as she busied herself hitting the keys of the computer. The lawyer who was by now comfortably seated at his big but comfortable, chair laughed.
“I sure need a vacation,” the lawyer said. “But first of all I think Sam Dwalu rather needs more than a vacation since he has just been to hell and back.”
Mr. Dwalu smiled, overwhelmed by the dramatic turn of events.
“I need to thank you,” Dwalu said, pleased with the persistence of the lawyer, particularly for believing in his innocence.
“A lawyer’s job is to fight for his client,” Jason Doe said with a smile. “You need a big party for your deliverance.”
Across from Jason Doe, the former police officer dozed off. Before him was also a bottle of whisky and the echo of his snoring moved his chest back and forth.
Jason Doe felt the success of the case and wondered how on earth even people who were involved in other crimes tend to mislead the very people clothed with the law to help them. He could also not be convinced about those who find themselves in circumstances of their own making and turn around to blame others.
He thought about the nature of the crime and felt pleased that another innocent man had been released from the machinations of man’s inhumanity to man. The snoring of the former officer brought distant memory of the witness who swore under oath about someone that he never met before. Life’s lessons, he considered, offer the best defense in life.