Criminal Court “A” Presiding Judge, Blamo Dixon, has axed two of the nine-member empanelled jurors in the murder trial of one Michael Dahn.
Milton Chea and Racheal Suah were dropped for communicating with the family of defendant Dahn, who is on trial for allegedly killing Antoinette Peters on January 8, 2013.They have been replaced by MaluWayakollie and Patrick Gbongon.
According to the Liberia News Agency, Judge Dixon took the decision predicated upon a motion filed by the prosecution accusing the two jurors of tampering with the case.The prosecution argued that the Supreme Court has repeatedly frowned on jurors’ tampering, noting that in the event that the facts of such allegation are established, an immediate investigation be conducted before the trial can proceed.
In their reaction, the defense said the prosecution’s intent is to delay the trial and later lead to the disbanding of the entire jury.
In his ruling, Judge Dixon said even though the prosecution failed to name or describe the family members that the two jurors were accused of communicating with, the fact that an allegation of jury tampering was made is a serious violation, and that the court is obliged to take the information seriously.
The Judge added that the court conducted an investigation during which the two jurors admitted being in the vicinity of the defendant’s family members, but denied communicating with them.He said although it is the right of the family members to be in court for the trial, they have no right to communicate with the jurors directly or indirectly.
The judge noted that he had no alternative but to disband the two jurors and bar them from entering the premises of the Temple of Justice as long as the trial is in progress.