Liberia: Grandmother Charged with Negligent Homicide in Child’s Death

 The grandmother Sennian Allison

--- “The crime of negligent Homicide occurred [on grounds that] the grandmother took less care of the child by sending her alone to go buy pampers without considering the age and the distance,” the police said in an investigative report.

The Liberia National Police has charged the grandmother of a 7-year-old child whose lifeless body was found floating in an open pit nearly three months ago with negligent homicide.

The woman — Sennian Allison — who is the step-grandmother of the child, is being charged for violating Chapter 14, Section 14. 3 of the revised penal code of Liberia on grounds that she purposely, knowingly, and intentionally sent the minor alone without considering her age.

Allison’s crime, according to the penal law, is a felony of the third degree and has a fixed prison term that cannot exceed five years.

“In view of the foregoing facts and circumstances surrounding the death of the victim Jamaal Davies, coupled with the evidence adduced, the police has resolved to charge defendant Sennian Allison for the crime of negligent homicide in accordance with the revised penal code of Liberia,” the police said in an investigative report.

The report added, “The crime of negligent Homicide occurred [on grounds that] the grandmother took less care of the child by sending her alone to go buy pampers [disposable diapers] without considering the age and the distance.”

The mother of the deceased was married to Allison's son, who was the stepfather. She met her untimely death after being sent by Allison to buy some disposable diapers in July a few blocks away from their home, the police said.  The police, however, stated that after the child had not been seen for around 10 minutes, the step-grandmother went to the shop, but neither the shop owner nor the little girl could be seen.

According to police, the grandmother then asked some small business people selling along the road near the Jalloh shop, where the deceased had gone to buy the pampers,  but nobody could give information about having seen the minor around there.

The grandmother then filed a missing person’s report with the former chairman of the Nimba United Community in Mount Barclay — kicking off a search for the little girl but it was fruitless, the report said. 

“Investigation established that the victim’s death was the result of drowing and not associated with rape as has been insinuated,” the police added. “Investigation also established that the pool in which the victim was discovered was not a dug septic tank as has been alleged.” 

“Investigation also established that the victim’s slippers were found floating near her in the open pit, not far from their residence, while the pampers she went to buy from Jalloh shop were seen lying beside the opened pit.” 

The search for young Davies, the police said, lasted into the evening hours of July 24, leading to the discovery of her corpse floating in a dug pit that was being used for the mixing of concrete cement for construction work.

And the distance from Davies’ home to the shop measures about 300 to 400 feet, however, it contains lots of misshaped structures — making walking in between difficult, the police said. 

“It is a dug pit that people use to take water from for the purpose of mixing concrete cement.  [The pit] is behind a new-story building that is under construction.  The open pit in which the body was found is not too far from the victim’s residence. It is also a ‘shortcut’ to the victim’s home.”

Meanwhile, the police have said that upon discovery of Davies's body, the county coroner of Montserrado organized a 15-man coroner jury, who examined the body and established no foul play, which prompted the return of the body to the family of the deceased for burial. 

“Having thoroughly investigated and interviewed defendants that were arrested within the proximity of the incident scene, the crime of negligent homicide was committed on the part of the grandmother, and [she] would be charged in accordance with Chapter 14, Section 14. 3 of the revised penal code of Liberia and forward to Court.”

“Meanwhile the suspects, Amos Dolley (the stepfather) Nathaniel Zoetah, Mohammed Jalloh, and Hassah Jalloh, [have been] exonerated from the investigation and be released to their legal counsel because of lack of sufficient evidence to link them to the crime,” the police report said.

However, the biological father of the child, Lomel Davies had earlier claimed that after his daughter’s body was found, officers from the Mount Barclay police station contacted the Ministry of Justice coroner, who then asked a community medical practitioner to do an examination — a process which confirmed that the child had been sexually abused.

“[The medical practitioner] inserted her four fingers in the child’s private part and it penetrated and she said the girl was tampered with sexually before her death,” the father said. 

But the police contested the claim, saying that the medical practitioner had declined to appear for questioning over how she arrived at her assessment.

“Let the medical practitioner who said the child was raped come forward for questioning,” said Prince Mulbah, Deputy Police Inspector General for the Crime Services Division, during the earlier stage of the investigation.  “We need to know where she works, whether she is a certified medical practitioner.”