Liberia: Justice Nagbe Backs Campaign for Judge Willie's Recusal

-- In Oliver Dillion's murder trial

The recent decision by Associate Justice Joseph N. Nagbe reversing the judgment of Judge Roosevelt Willie of Criminal Court 'A' in Monrovia, in which the judge had granted a bail to a charged murder defendant, Oliver P. Dillion, has now compelled the recusal of Judge Willie (step-down) from the entire case.

Judge Willie took the action on Monday, November 18 immediately after the government lawyers asked him to step-down from the case based on Justice Nagbe's judgment that overturned his (Willie) decision.

Justice Nagbe was serving as Chamber Justice of the Supreme Court when he overturned Judge Willie's judgment, but did not provide any legal reasons for reversing Judge Willie's decision, instead ruled that Judge Willie was in error to grant Dillon bail.

Defendant Dillon happens to be the coordinator for decentralization at the Ministry of Transport, and one of the younger brothers of Senator Abraham Darius Dillon of Montserrado County.

He was charged with murder for stabbing one Emmanuel Koffa twice in his chest, which resulted in Koffa's death on April 12, 2019 in the Gardnersville Supermarket Community, along the Somalia Drive.

It was based on the charge that Dillon's legal team prayed the Court, presided over by Judge Willie, to admit him to bail, because the evidence submitted by government lawyers did not contain the critical elements of murder that include "premeditation and malice aforethought."

Shortly afterward, Judge Willie granted Dillon bail, which was later overturned by Justice Nagbe when the government lawyers filed a request before the Justice, praying him to review the ruling of Judge Willie granting bail to Dillon.

It was that overturned judgment that encouraged the government lawyers to ask for Judge Willie's recusal on Monday.

In a grave tone of voice, while recusing himself from the matter, Judge Willie in a jammed packed courtroom repeatedly said he placed Dillon on bail because the police charge sheet that led to the government's indictment against Dillion did not contain the critical elements of murder, which he named as "premeditation and malice."

Judge Willie explained that the charge sheet and the indictment alleged that on April 12, 2019, defendant Dillon parked his vehicle opposite the Jeety Trading Corporation in Vai Town, Bushrod Island around 12 midnight and went home.

At home, Judge Willie said, quoting the government's pieces of evidences against Dillon, "he decided to use his computer, but could not find his reading glasses, and one of his cell phones, but noticed he forgot about those items in the car."

Later, Willie explained that Dillion decided to go back to collect his items from the car, "but as he was approaching his car, he encountered three men, including the Koffa (victim). One of them was in possession of a pair of scissors."

The three, the government's charge sheet alleged, engaged Dillon in the darkness with aggression and malicious intent, but in the process, Dillon pulled out a knife and stabbed Koffa twice in his left chest.

Judge Willie said although he knows that the elements of murder was not shown at all in the charge sheet, and indictment, and because he cannot change his judgment, he would rather accept government lawyers' argument for his recusal.

"Since the government lawyers' argument is that I have already touched the merit of the case in applying for a bail, their request for recusal is hereby granted, and based on the fact that the Court has touched on the merit of the case," Judge Willie said.

Meanwhile, Judge Willie has since transferred the case to another court, the Criminal Court 'B' also at the Temple of Justice.

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