Liberia: Margibi Court Releases Oliver Dillon on Bail

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KAKATA, Margibi County – The Resident Judge of the 13th Judicial Circuit Court of Margibi County, Madea Tarr-Chenoweth, has released from detention murder suspect Oliver P. Dillion on bail due to state lawyers reported un-readiness to pursue the case.

Judge Tarr-Chenoweth on Thursday said the granting of bail to Defendant Dillon was triggered by the failure of the state represented by the Solicitor General Cllr. Saymah Syrenius Cephus to appear in court to argue prosecution recent Motion for Recusal filled in the case against her (Judge Madea Tarr-Chenoweth).

This was the prosecution’s second Motion of Recusal filled to have a judge recuse himself in the murder trial.

Earlier, Judge Roosevelt Willie of Criminal Court “A” at the Temple of Justice on November 18, 2019, recused himself from further hearing the murder case involving Oliver Dillion as the result of prosecution’s motion filed to have him recused himself from the case due to his earlier decision in the case to admit Defendant Dillon to bail.

Judge Tarr-Chenoweth granting the bail to Defendant Dillion stated that: “From the sheriff’s returns, it shows that both counsels signed the notice of assignment to be here today. The time is now is 11:05 am and the Honorable Solicitor General is not around. Going through the case file, it has been shown that on so many occasions that the state is not ready for this case”.

“The idea of the Solicitor General not giving the court any deference shows an affront to this Honorable Court. Since the Solicitor General is not here, neither did he send anybody, this court will now grant the defendant Oliver P. Dillion bail until the state is ready to carry on this case,” Judge Tarr-Chenoweth ordered.

It can be recalled that after 10 months of legal bickering at the Temple of Justice the first venue for the murder trial of Oliver Dillion, the case was on Monday, January 13, 2020, transferred from Montserrado County to Margibi County.

The move was taken by Presiding Judge Cianeh Clinton Johnson of the Criminal Court “B” who replaced Judge Roosevelt Willie of Criminal Court “A” in the murder trial after his recusal.

Judge Johnson’s decision was taken after she ruled into the prosecution’s motion filed before her for change of venue due to what it referred to as diverse local biases and the activities of Montserrado County Senator Darius Dillion, who is the brother of the Defendant.

Defendant Dillion’s lawyer resisted the motion filed for a change of venue arguing that the prosecution did not show any evidence to prove any local prejudice if the case is tried in Montserrado County.

Citing a legal reference then, the Judge said that an application for a change of venue is addressed to the discretion of the trial judge but that does not mean that the judge may act arbitrarily in the matter and that the judge’s discretion is judicial’ in character and a sound discretion guided by law.

According to the judge, the law provides that the court has the authority to change venue to another county and not to a specified county by the prosecution and since this court not been mandated by law to grant the change of venue at the discretion of the state that discretion now solely lies in the court to decide where and in the discretion of the court all parties interest was going to be protected by sending the case to another county following law.

She ordered the Clerk of Court to enter the record of the transfer of the case and transmit all records to Clerk of the Margibi Court.

Defendant Dillion, a Coordinator of Decentralization at the Ministry of Transport, was arrested by officers of the Liberian National Police, investigated and charged with murder on Wednesday, April 17, 2019.

He was detained at the Monrovia Central Prison before been transferred to the Kakata Central Prison pending prosecution for allegedly killing Emmanuel Koffa, a resident of Gardnesville outside Monrovia.

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