Pastors, Others Face Murder Trial in Bassa

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A huge crowd thronged the courtroom of the Buchanan City Court in Grand Bassa County to witness a preliminary examination of six suspects, including two pastors, for their alleged involvement in the killing of one Nimley Tarr in District Number One.

The crowds that filled the balcony and aisles of the court were the immediate relatives and friends of the defendants and the deceased as well as the regular court attendants.

The murder suspects include the senior pastor and assistant pastor of the Christian Revival Church of God in Christ, Philip Zeo and Emmanuel Julodoe.  Also being tried are Onegar Zarngbahn, James Reeves, Daniel Ben, Samuel Tarragban, and Erasmus Morris of Playtoe’s Town in District Number One.

The defendants were implicated in the brutal killing of one Nimley Tarr of Woe’s Town in Playtoe’s Town after they all attended church services on Sunday, August 10, 2014.  Following the murder, they reportedly extracted his heart, hand and parts of his hips allegedly for juju purposes.

During the trial proceedings recently, the state was represented by the Ministry of Justice and all prosecuting Attorneys with the
Buchanan City Solicitor and Acting Attorney Isaac Yorcee in
association with Associate City Solicitor, Johnson Tukeh and former county Attorney, Cllr. Onesimus Banwon.

The county public defender Cllr. Paul P. Jarvan represented the legal interest of the defendants.

During the resumption of the case, the court, presided over by the senior associate magistrate Richard Browne, acquainted the defendants with their Miranda and constitutional rights to hire lawyers of their choice. The defendants then prayed the court for preliminary examination and the hired lawyer, Cllr, Jarvan, which the court granted.

They begged the indulgence of the court without prejudice to enter a plea of nulli prosequoi in favor of defendants
Samuel Taragban, Rev.Philip Zeo ,Onegar Zangban, Daniel Ben in order to testify as state witnesses in compliance with 1 LCRL title 11 of the criminal procedure law, page 372, section 18 and sub-section 18.14. The public defender interposed no objection and the court granted same.

The remaining defendants, Samuel Tarragban, Rev. Emmanuel Juludoe and James Reeves were duly charged with the crime of murder to face trial. The court thereafter qualified the state witnesses predicated upon the request of the state.

The first state witness, Onega Zangban, took the stand and testified that he left his home in Noryou Town and went to cut palm nuts on August 10, 2014 in the Playtoe’s town area.

He explained that while in the bush hunting for ripe palm nuts he came across the three defendants in question opening the victim’s backside with a kitchen knife, and they threatened to kill him (Onega Zangban) if he should expose the incident.  He agreed for fear of his life since he was a non-member of their poro society.
“Notwithstanding , my fear was released and I told the incident to my brother-in-law,   Daniel Ben, that I met Samuel Tarragban, James Reeves and Emmanuel Juludoe killing and extracting parts from the deceased, Nimley Tarr.   

Onega Zangban disclosed that after the late Tarr could not be seen for days the people of Playtoe’s Town and its environs mounted a search and finally discovered the body of the victim.

Touching on how he and other people were arrested, he narrated that the traditional people of the town cast lot at which time he and others were implicated.

The Deputy Commander of the Criminal Investigation Division (CID) of the Grand Bassa County police detachment, John Toby, the second state witness, testified that on August 10, 2014, a team of CID agents had previously received news about a missing man identified as Nimley Tarr.

Witness Toby explained that based on that information, he and the CID agents converged at the crime scene in Playtoe’s Town in #1 District to probe the incident, at which time the body of the deceased was found in a certain sugar cane farm near Playtoe’s Town.  They suspected foul play on his heart and left arm.
John Toby indicated that during the police preliminary interrogation, suspect Onega Zangban voluntarily admitted that he saw the defendants in question killing the victim, but they threatened to kill him if he disclosed their deed.
He quoted Onega as saying that he informed Daniel Ben about the incident, and Ben later told the town Chief James Reeves, who said they should forget about it, and keep it a secret.

The rest of the state witnesses’ testimonies were corroborated. After the testimonies of the state witnesses, both the state prosecution and public defender entered numerous legal citations to support their respective arguments.

Meanwhile, the ruling of the case is still pending even though the defendants have not testified on their behalf because, according to magistrate Brown, the proceeding was only a preliminary examination.

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