Liberia: Witness Testimony in Former Chief Justice’s Murder Trial Raises “Doubt”

Former Chief Justice Gloria Musu Scott

The trial of former Chief Justice Cllr. Gloria Musu Scott, who is accused of murder, has taken an unexpected twist as one of the state’s key witnesses, Eric Odumoegwu, has provided what appeared as conflicting accounts about his knowledge of the crime.

Odumoegwu, who is a neighbor of Scott and the three other co-defendants, forced the judge to legally to springly intervene in the cross-examination of him so as to ensure the accuracy of his testimony.

In an exchange with the Judge, Odumoegwu, who is considered by the state as one of the key eyewitnesses, told the Court that on the night of Charloe Musu's murder, he heard an unusual noise coming from the home of Scott between 9 pm and 10 pm, which then force he to ‘reach there and see what was it.’

“I went there to see what was going on, and there I met people already at her compound,” he said.

Willie, while seeking additional clarity again asked Odumoegwu, “What was your reason for entering the house?” 

He replied: “I went there because they were my neighbors, and I heard unusual cries for help; that's why I entered the compound.”

When asked, “Did you see anyone injured?”, Odumoegwu responded in the negative: “No, I didn’t see anyone injured.”

The Judge again pressed on with his question and asked Odumoegwu “Did you hear anybody screaming in the house?” He replied: “No, except for the one I heard when I was outside.”

Odumoegwu’s testimony comes as the Ministry of Justice had in its indictments claimed that security guards assigned to the home of Scott on the night of February 22, heard crying sounds and in the process, approached one of the house windows and there saw co-defendant Gertrude Newton sliding a bathroom window glass,  but stop and screamed for help — alleging that intruders were in the house. 

The indictment noted that Anthony Musu and Zion Tarr — the security officer on duty that night — had reported seeing Newton with the deceased in the bathroom even though they never entered the house.

“Musu and Tarr told the police investigators that they saw in the bathroom co-defendant Gertrude Newton with the deceased,” the indicated claimed. 

It alleges that while Tarr was still at the window, some community members jumped over the fence and managed to enter the house through a window that Newton had ordered to be broken, allowing them to “get outside.”  It was during this period that the Ministry of Justice says that the deceased, who was found bleeding by neighbors.

According to the indictment, Tarr, who remained at Newton's window, alert for any sign of the alleged intruder,  did not come across any intruder as claimed by co-defendants Newton.

After a “thorough investigation,” the Ministry noted that the police found that the defendants concocted the story about “an unknown intruder entering the house and stabbing the deceased to death in an attempt to cover up the truth. “

It added that no sign of a break-in or an intruder was found and that a medical/autopsy report revealed that the deceased had suffered multiple stab wounds on various parts of her body. 

Odumoegwu, while still under cross-examination, told the Court Judge that before he had entered the home of the former Chief Justice,  other people had already entered through the window, which Tarr had broken.

Scott, whose lawyers are made up of some of the country's best legal minds, then asked Odumoegwu to explain how many people entered the house through the window.

He replied, “Before I entered the house, others had already entered, but I can't remember the faces of those who were inside.”

The defense then returned and asked, “What did you observe when you entered Cllr. Scott's house?”

He responded, “When I entered the house, I observed that pepper spray was all over. The next thing I noticed was a bloodstain on the floor; that's the only thing I observed.”

Odumoegwu’s testimony supports what Scott has repeatedly stated that she saved herself from being killed after she used pepper spray on the alleged attacker who had attempted stabbing her.

The indictment noted that Scott also falsely told police investigators that on the night of the incident, she was waking up by screams, and when she opened her eyes, she saw the deceased bleeding.

“It was there and then that she remembered someone had given her pepper spray which she located amongst her papers. And when leaving her room, she encountered a man at her doorway and sprayed him in the face,” the indictment said.

“Later, one of the security guards entered the house, and she gave him her set of spare keys to open the door, and that is how they carried Charloe Musu outside to be taken to the hospital,” the indictment noted. 

Newton, the indictment further claimed “falsely and erroneously” told police investigators that the deceased was stabbed in the back by an alleged armed robber; “when in fact and indeed, the multiple wounds inflicted on the deceased were all seen in the front and at the left armpit.”

According to the indictment, Newton “had a tussle” with the alleged intruder and “even took a knife” before the “intruder retook possession” and allegedly stabbed the deceased.

“She went further to say that she encountered the intruder outside the house and they threw stones at each other. co-defendant Newton said ‘when I got outside, I saw the same fellow,’” the indictment noted.

Meanwhile, the former Chief Justice and her co-defendants have, however, denied ever committing such a crime and consistently claimed that their niece was killed by an attacker whom they did not name.