Liberia: Presidential Protocol Officer Gets 3-Year Sentence

Cleopatra Cummings was indicted by the government for allegedly attempting to kill

President George Weah’s Deputy Chief of Protocol, Cleopatra Cummings, has been sentenced to three years on charges of aggravated assault by Criminal Court ‘A’ Judge Roosevelt Willie. 

Judge Willie's sentencing of Cleopatra Cummings came after he confirmed the jury’s guilty verdict. Initially, Willie had planned to announce a five-year prison sentence but had to reduce it to three years, after an investigation by the probation office established that the convict did not have any prior criminal record.

However, her sentencing was temporarily suspended, due to her lawyers’ objection to Judge Willie's decision, and subsequently announced an appeal before the Supreme Court. 

Madam Cummings was indicted by the government for allegedly attempting to kill a lady identified as Grace Wah, a classroom teacher of the God Is Good International School, after gashing her face with a razor blade. Madam Wah received 14 stitches for her injury and was told by medical practitioners to seek further treatment outside of the country.

However, throughout the trial, the razor blade that was allegedly used by the defendant in the crime was never admitted into evidence.

Aggravated assault can result in stiff felony penalties of 10, 15 or even 20 years’ prison time, plus fines. The punishment often depends on the level of harm threatened to the victim.

Earlier, Cleopatra Cummings had asked Judge Willie to dismiss the jury verdict, following an accusation that the panel, while in their room of deliberation, were tampered with to arrive at the guilty verdict.

Lawyers representing the Deputy Chief of Protocol argued that the jury should not have reached that verdict on grounds that the perceived weapon (razor blade) was never introduced during the trial and that no medical records were produced to show the extent of the injury and treatment of the victim.

But the judge rejected the motion for a new trial — arguing that said motion did not adequately address the defense’s jury tampering accusation. He added that as it is done, in several cases of similar nature, the jurors listened to the facts during the proceedings, before returning with the verdict.

“What was shown was the photo of Wah with the injury, which the jurors took into their room of deliberation, and it is based on the evidence that the jurors came down with the unanimous verdict,” Judge Willie said while dismissing the defense team’s accusation.

But, according to Judge Willie, during the trial, when the victim was asked about the whereabouts of the razor blade, Wah, the judge said, replied, “it is possible that the defendant could have thrown it away after the injury.”

“As it relates to the malicious intent, while the issue of the first two confusions did not come before this court, both the defendant and the victim admitted to having had confusion in the past,” Judge Willie noted. “So, by presumptions, both of them might have had some malice in mind from their past incident.