By: King Brown
(Grand Bassa County Correspondent)
The 2nd Judicial Circuit Court in Buchanan headed by Judge Joe S. Barkon, has found a 58-year-old-man guilty for kidnapping a three-day-old baby, Eve Karnga at the Liberia Agriculture Company (LAC) Hospital.
The child and her mother Mary Barkon were referred to the LAC hospital from the Zondo Clinic in Grand Bassa after nurses at the clinic said the child was suffering from depression and needed advanced treatment at a recognized hospital.
The three days old baby mysteriously went missing on March 16, 2020, after her mother had gone to the bathroom, but could not see her babe upon return.
According to Judge Barkon, defendant Dukpoe stated in his testimony that he never worked in the emergency room before, adding that Rachel David told a big lie on him.
But he explained that the day the child went missing, he worked in the operation room and the corridal where he swept and mopped the floor and did not work in the ER where the child and the mother were on the bed.
Defendant Dukpoe testimony according to Judge Barkon was an effective defense of Alibi under the law and practice in the jurisdiction.
Judge Barkon stated, “The Court says, to prove Alibi, that defendant is under obligation to provide convincing evidence before the jury and court after the state has provided evidence linking the defendant to the commission of the crime of kidnapping.”
According to Judge Barkon, the prosecution provided its side of the case with evidence beyond reasonable doubts which linked the defendant to the commission of the crime of kidnapping.
The Judge brought down the guilty verdict against defendant Dukpoe no last Friday after the final argument in the case between prosecuting Lawyers headed by County Attorney, Cllr. Samuel K. Jacobs and the defense Council led by Cllr. Albert Sims.
In his verdict, “he quoted the New Penal code of Liberia, Chapter 14, section 14.50 (1) which says that a person is guilty of kidnapping if he unlawfully removed another person from his/her place of residence or business, or a substantial distance from the vicinity where he’s found, or if he/ she unlawfully confines another for a substantial period in a place of location, with any of the following purposes: (a) to hold for reason or rewards (b) to use him as a shield to hostage (c) to hold him in a condition of involuntary servitude (d) to facilitate the commission of any felony or flight thereafter (e) to inflict bodily injury on or to terrorize the victim, or (f) to interfere with the performance of any governmental or political functions.”
“Section 14.50(2) of the same law quoted above, says that kidnapping is a felony of first degree unless that actor voluntarily releases the victim alive and in a safe place prior to trial, in which case it is a felony of the second degree.”
Cllr. Barkon mentioned that the principal witness (Rachel David) testimony was direct evidence and not circumstantial because it is based on her personal knowledge or observation of the situation accounting for the child being allegedly taken away by the defendant, James Dukpoe and her testimony is not presumed either inferred.
“The prosecution fifth witness in the person of Police Inspector Benedict Saylee also provided evidence in his testimony and said that when the team of investigators arrived on the crime scene on March 17, 2020, it was established that when the news of the missing child was announced, all of the nurses ran from their assigned room to the ER in search of the child, and while that was ongoing, the investigation established that Rachel David told the police that the same man who came and took away the child wrapped in a lapper came back to her and asked in the Bassa dialect how is the situation of the missing child and how were the people talking it, but she did not know his name but assured the police that she could identify him and she identify him when the police escorted her at the hospital as the man, James S, K. Dukpo, a cleaner of the hospital was identified amongst many others by Rachel David.”
He said the inspector’s evidence and testimony also corroborated by the testimonies of the investigators who testified before the court.
“Wherefore and view of the foregoing facts and circumstances, and the laws applicable hereinabove, it is the final judgment of this court that the defendant James Dupo is GUILTY of the crime of kidnapping and his criminal appearance bond is hereby set aside, and also ordered the clerk of the court to keep the defendant Dukpo in prison for five days while he awaits his sentence.” Judge Barkon said.
However, the defense lawyer, Cllr. Albert Sims has taken an appeal to the Supreme Court because according to him he is not pleased with the final judgment of the court.
Meanwhile, the missing baby mother, Mary Barkon said that she was satisfied because justice has prevailed in the kidnapping case of her three days old baby but promised to take the Liberia Agriculture Company to court for her child.