Liberia: Govt to Resist Acquitted American Missionary From Leaving Country

Lucas Richards, the American Missionary acquitted by Criminal Court 'B' of attempted murder charges, may likely not be allowed to leave the country anytime soon.

This is because the Ministry of Justice is planning to issue a writ of Ne Exeat Republica, to restrict him from leaving the jurisdiction of the court and state, a senior member of the prosecutor had informed the paper. Richards was charged and prosecuted for reportedly attempting to murder his Liberian wife, Jessica Lloyd.

But on Wednesday, April 17, the court, in a final ruling that shocked the public, acquitted him of the crime. This, however, does not look pleasing to the government, which is reportedly planning another action through the issuance of the Writ of Ne Exeat Republica.

Ne Exeat Republica is a legal term derived from Latin, which means "let him not go out of the republic." It is a writ that restricts a person from leaving the jurisdiction of the court or the state. This writ, if issued would ensure that Richards did not leave the country.

The decision, a judicial source said, comes amid growing tensions and criticism from around the world about the criminal justice system and the failure of the Ministry to convict Richards, despite numerous evidence to do so.

Other critics of both the prosecutors and the judge are saying that they were financially induced in favor of the not-guilty judgment.

Judge Nelson Chinneh had restored Richards' freedom and warned the government to not bring the charges against him anymore.

Judge Chineh's ruling says, "The defendant is hereby ordered discharged from ever answering these charges and his bail bond ordered, if any, returned." He added. "It is the holding of this court, considering the facts, circumstances, and laws controlling. The defendant is hereby adjudged not guilty of the crimes."

Chinneh also explained that his decision was due to the prosecution's failure to produce the pieces of evidence that might have supported them.

"Throughout the entire proceeding, the prosecution neglected to produce the criminal instruments that were used in the commission of the crimes charged as well as the pieces of evidence that are capable of supporting allegations and or charges in the indictment," the criminal court judge noted.

What is most surprising is that Richards has left the country, according to a source.

If this is true, then it follows a similar pattern to the US$100 million cocaine case where, after the jurors' not guilty verdict, the defendants were immediately advised by their lawyers to leave the country to avoid being issued a traveling ban.

On December 14, 2023, the government of Liberia indicted defendant Lucas K. Richards with the commission of the crimes of aggravated assault and criminal attempt to commit murder, felonies of the second degree.

According to the indictment, on September 14, 2023, the defendant herein injected and dosed the private prosecutrix, Jessica Lloyd, with an unknown substance with the intent to abort her three-month pregnancy.

The State further alleged that the indictment of the defendant, having noticed that the private prosecutrix was helpless and weak as a result of the doses of medicine and injections, took advantage of her on September 14, 2023, at about 1500hrs around the Palm Farm community, Township of Dixville, Montserrado County, Republic of Liberia.

The defendant, with criminal intent, struck Jessica Lloyd on her forehead and when she fell on the ground and became unconscious, the defendant got on her unconscious body and began to slash her throat with a knife in an attempt to kill her.

The judge explained that in a criminal case, the evidence must be corroborated to be weighed and reliable. Uncorroborated evidence is insufficient to convict a defendant.

According to him, Jessica Lloyd, who is the lone testimony of the eyewitness, Enerst Philip, without any corroborating evidence linking the defendant to the crime, is insufficient to sustain the indictment.

"Even the Holy Bible, speaking to corroboration, says that from the mouth of two or three witnesses, ye shall establish the truth, St. John 8:17," he said.

He ruled that the testimonies of Jessica Lloyd vary from one stage to another. For instance, before the eyewitnesses at Palm Farm Dixville, Jessica Lloyd stated Lucas Richards did not do anything to her.

Secondly, he noted that when she appeared as a general witness; she said that when she woke up and was coming out of the ditch, she never knew that she was injured or bleeding until one of the ladies who came to her rescue went to her to tie a cloth around her neck to stop the bleeding.

"When she appeared as the prosecution's rebuttal witness, she said that Lucas Richards hit an iron on her head and subsequently attempted to slice her throat. She also said that she never knew that Lucas Richards wanted to kill her until he pulled off [in his car] from the Crime scene.

According to him, the variance in Jessica Lloyd's testimonies is glaring.

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