Liberia: John Hilary Tubman’s Killer Sentenced to Life in Prison

Christian Anderson

Judge Roosevelt Willie of Criminal Court ‘A’ has sentenced Christian Anderson to a whole-life prison term for murdering John Hilary Tubman, a son of late Liberian President William V. S. Tubman. 

Willie’s handing down of the sentence comes after the Jurors found Anderson guilty of murder, paving the way for the judge to announce his jail term, which is now life imprisonment.

However, three of the 12 jurors dissented, saying that the defendant’s action was based on Tubman's alleged sexual abuse of Anderson, while refusing to take care of his medical need.

The late John Tubman, 76, was discovered dead with several cuts on his neck and forehead on September 22, 2021, in Sinkor at his Fiamah residence. Anderson, however, pled guilty to the crime and sought forgiveness, but was shocked when Willie announced his prison sentence, despite his pre-sentence report showing that he had no prior criminal record.

Throughout the month-long trial, Anderson proclaimed his guilt, wept and apologized to the victim's family, many of whom had crowded the courtroom to take a glimpse of him. He also pleaded with the judge and the jurors to forgive his “mistakes”.

Though Anderson admitted to the crime of murder, his legal team believe the judge erred in his sentence. Therefore, they have announced an appeal to the Supreme Court. The appeal means his sentence may not yet take effect; however, he is expected to remain behind bars until the Supreme Court rules.

Anderson's lawyers argued that because the defendant has no past criminal record, he should have not been given a life sentence. They claimed that Tubman died as a result of a conflict between him and Anderson — an incident which "the defendant has regretted and maintained that he prayed for mercy from the court."

“The Court should have granted the defendant a lesser sentence, as opposed to life imprisonment,” the defense team noted.

But the Ministry of Justice, which prosecuted the case, disagreed and reminded the judge that, regardless of Anderson not having a prior criminal record, the crime he committed, murder is hideous and should never be committed by a man against his fellow man.

The prosecutors also added that during the trial, it was confirmed by the judge and the jury that  Anderson likewise sodomized the victim, Tubman.

“Therefore, the prosecutors ask the judge to prescribe a rougher punishment under the law against defendant Anderson,” the state lawyers said. “Death by hanging or life imprisonment, so as to serve as a deterrence to others, that no matter how badly or how grievously someone may have offended or abused you, your recourse is to the law, and not to take the law into your own hands, by committing the act of murder.”

Meanwhile, prosecutors during the trial, dropped charges against defendants Emmanuel Forkey, and Aloysius Garbleh,  in exchange for his testimony. Garbleh is a juvenile and, by law, cannot be tried until he reaches the age of 18.

Justifying the request then, prosecutors said their action was based on information gathered that the two defendants did not participate in the commission of the crime.

The defense lawyers headed by Cllr. Jimmy Bombo interjected no objection to the two defendants whose charges were dropped during the trial. 

The state request, however, was in line with Chapter 18.1 of the Criminal procedure law which states: “The prosecuting attorney may, by leave of court, file a dismissal of an indictment or complaint or of a count contained therein as to either all or some of the defendants. The prosecution shall thereupon terminate to the extent indicated in the dismissal.”