By Edwin G. Wandah
Hans Capehart Williams and MardiaPaykue have been set free by the Supreme Court of the Republic of Liberia after they were sentenced to death by a lower court for Murder, a felony of the first degree, which is punishable under the laws of Liberian if found guilty.
According to the Clerk of the Supreme Court, Hans and Mardia were on Saturday released from further detention at the Monrovia Central Prison and their Miranda rights restored to them.
Presiding over the ruling on Friday August 15, Chief Justice Francis S. Korkpor Sr. took nearly three hours forty-five minutes to come down with the high court’s acquittal verdict, setting the Hans and his fiancé free.
Hans and his significant other Mardia were indicted for murder and sentenced to death by hanging by Judge Blamo Dixon in a ruling which the defendants considered as bias and only intended to terminate their lives for crimes they had earlier pleaded not guilty to.
During that hearing, prosecution argued that the witnesses presented by the defendants were all closed associates of them and that the testimonies given by them could not be accepted to the fact that the witnesses’ testimonies contained no iota of truth.
Prosecution also claimed that appellants in this case gruesomely murdered the victim to death with their bare hands. According to them, defendant Hans Capehart Williams raped the victim, Angel Tokpa, and afterwards, he and co-defendant MardiaPaykue jointly murdered the victim by strangulating her to death and hung her in the bathroom.
Meanwhile, during Police investigation, Col. Peter Zayzay and Col. Prince Mulbah both testified that there was foul play in the victim’s death, while the medical examination from the John F. Kennedy Medical Center showed that the victim was raped.
After those testimonies given by the Police and JFK doctors, a Ghanaian Doctor who was invited also claimed that there was foul play in the victim’s death, but did not state in detail, the root-cause of foul play.
But a renowned Liberian Medical Doctor, Quaye’s test showed that the victim’s vaginal organ was extracted. Meanwhile in other development, Liberia’s Solicitor General at the time, Cllr. TiawonGongloe told the investigation that there was no foul play in the victim’s death.
Appellants on June 15, 2009 filed a writ to the Supreme Court challenging Judge Dixon’s ruling against them. The defendants again pleaded not guilty to the crime of murdering then 13- year old Angel Tokpa.
According to the defendants, on November 30, 2007, Angel Tokpa was seen hanged in a bathroom, when his son Hans Capehart Williams Jr. saw her after he had gone to use the bathroom.
The Supreme Court in its final ruling said that claims by the Prosecution that the defendants caused the death of little Angel Tokpa could not be granted on ground that the claim of homicide, which the prosecution said was the cause of the death could not be established.
According to the high court, the claim of the Prosecution did not say in part how the defendants killed the victim. The Court further believed if the defendants did indeed commit the act of homicide, Prosecution should have stated in parts and detail how the crime was committed, “How each of the Appellants choked the victim to death, how each of the Appellants strangled the victim, and how each of the Appellants hanged the victim.”
The Supreme Court observed with distinction that the Prosecution did not produce any cogent evidence to prove their case sufficient and it is also believed that there was not credible evidence provided by the prosecution to have defendants convicted of the crime.
The Court, however, found the Appellants not guilty of the crime and immediately acquitted them. Meanwhile, shortly after the verdict was given, the legal counsel for the defendants lauded the Supreme Court for the ruling.
According to Cllr. Musa Dean, Justice has taken its course, and believed that the law was right when it set the defendants free, but State lawyers declined to comment on the ruling, when approached by journalists.
Hans and Mardia were arrested and jailed since 2008 and sentenced in 2010. Mr. Togbah, Angel’s father who had been the brain behind seeking justice for his daughter fell prey to death leaving his widow to live with the high court’s opinion.