Family members of four of the seven persons accused of spilling gasoline on senior police officer Amos Tutu, and setting him ablaze, yesterday could not hold back their tears after a request to bail the men was denied by Judge Roosevelt Z. Willie, of Criminal Court A.
Chief Inspector Tutu of the Police Support Unit (PSU) was on February 27, 2010, allegedly burnt to death by the defendants, on Capitol Bye-pass, in Monrovia.
Chief Inspector Tutu was said to have been murdered, after he allegedly shot and killed a man identified as Preston Davis during a scuffle over rent fees received by Davis for an apartment.
The defendants’ legal team sought the court’s approval to release them on bail, contending that they have been in detention for over five years (or over twenty terms of court) without having their day in court, which, according to defense lawyers, is equivalent to abandonment and waiver.
They also quoted Chapter 13.1 of the Criminal Procedural Law, which provides that “a person in custody for the commission of a capital offense shall before conviction be entitled as a right to be admitted to bail, unless the proof is evident or the presumption is great that the defendant is guilty of the offense.”
However, Judge Willie, in denying the “Motion to Admit to Bail,” said “doing so would amount to undoing the act of the late Judge James W. Zota with whom we have concurrent jurisdiction.”
Judge Willie said in 2011, the defense team filed a similar motion before the late Judge Zota which was denied.
That denial, he said, created an opportunity for the defense team to have immediately asked for a speedy trial during which the defendants would have exonerated themselves from the charge.
“Records show that the prosecution had made all efforts for the defendants to be accorded due process but there is no record to show that they made such efforts to assign the case for hearing,” Judge Willie noted.
He said, “The defense has not made use of the opportunity as it was informed by the late Judge James W. Zota.”
Prior to Judge Willie’s decision, the prosecution argued that without the motion for a speedy trial, it would have been a violation of the Supreme Court’s opinion, on concurrence jurisdiction, “wherein a previous judge has denied defendants’ bail.”