Gboko Stewart, firstname.lastname@example.org
Monrovia-Christian Byron Anderson, the prime suspect in the murder investigation of John Hilary Tubman, has been found guilty of murder, according to the Inquirer Newspaper.
Anderson’s verdict was read in Criminal Court A, Montserrado County where he had been on
trial for the murder of Tubman.
The paper stated that Anderson’s guilty verdict came when nine of the 12-member empaneled jury found him guilty on Wednesday, June 29.
“We the trial jurors whom the case between the Republic of Liberia through the Ministry of Justice, plaintiffs, versus Christian Byron Anderson, defendant, crime murder was given to bring a verdict having carefully adduced the evidence at the trial, we hereby unanimously agree that the defendant is guilty of the crime of murder,” the Inquirer quoted the jurors.
With murder being a first degree felony, Anderson faces lifetime imprisonment or death by hanging.
Anderson, 30, was arrested alongside an accomplice, for the murder of the son of the
former president following an extensive manhunt and a US$5k bounty by the Ministry of Justice.
Tubman, 76, son of former Liberian President of 27 years, William V.S. Tubman, was found murdered in his home in the suburbs of Sinkor on September 22, 2021, with a rope tied to his neck with facial and stab wounds and a spatter of blood.
His death sent an electrifying shockwaves in the LGBT community and across the country. Believed to be gay, John Hilary Tubman was reportedly one of the few Liberians who lived openly.
Christian Byron Anderson and Aloysious Garplay
His murder mounted acute public pressure on the Liberia National Police to bring his killers to book. And following what appeared to be an initial sloppy handling, dilly-dallying, shillyshallying, and sharp contradictions by the Ministry of Justice and the LNP, law enforcement authorities released the photos of two brothers – Christian Byron Anderson and William V.S. Anderson – who were allegedly linked to the commission of the crime.
A massive public manhunt was launched by the Police, and following weeks of intense searching, the duo was caught alongside an accomplice nestled in River Cess County.
At a press conference in Monrovia following their capture, the Inspector General of the Liberia National Police, Patrick Sudue, announced that Christian Byron Anderson, following his arrest and preliminary investigations, admitted to murdering Tubman. Anderson was also arrested alongside Aloysious Garblah at the home of the latter’s parents.
According to Sudue, the motives surrounding the death were unclear. But during a snappy interview with a shabbily dressed Anderson, 29, which was hurriedly shut down by Police spokesman, Moses Carter, he alleged he was molested by Tubman.
William V.S. Anderson, younger brother of Christian Byron Anderson, was let off the hook as he didn’t have any link to the commission of the crime, according to Police Inspector General Patrick Sudue.
The guilty verdict against Anderson comes nearly two years following the disappearance of Dominic Renner and Winston Toe. Renner and Toe’s disappearance has been linked to Cheeseman Cole, an ex-soldier of the Armed Forces of Liberia who reportedly used Facebook to “catfish” over 27 men he suspected of being gay.
LGBTQ Liberians continue to face widespread threats, assault, harassment, and hate speech, according to the 2020 U.S. State Department Human Rights report.
Though Cole was arrested and briefly detained at the Monrovia Central Prison, he has been freed on bail awaiting trial. The status of the case continues to remain shrouded in secrecy as the Ministry of Justice appears reluctant to prosecute. Ministry of Justice spokesperson Maude Somah could not be reached for comment.
Despite what is considered a huge win for the LGBT community with the verdict against Anderson, doubts and despair are hovering as Cole is yet to face justice.
LGBTQ Liberians have experienced incessant attacks in the last year.
Recently, a student of the Trinity United Methodist School was expelled for cross-dressing when a viral video on Facebook showed him in a playful but fiery exchange with a female street preacher who had sought to preach damnation upon him.
Two teenagers and a man were beaten in May over suspicion they were gays. The trio claimed they were returning from a wake-keeping ceremony. Though arrests were made, the Ministry of Justice failed to prosecute. They were relocated by human rights organizations for their safety.
Liberian law criminalizes consensual same-sex sexual activity between consenting adults. Article 14.74, 14.79, and 50.7 [of the Penal Code of 1976] consider voluntary sodomy as a first-degree misdemeanor, with a penalty of up to one-year imprisonment.
Accomplices Walks Free
Aloysious Garplay and Emmanuel Forkey, alleged accomplices in the murder of John Tubman were let off the court during the trial after the state enter a nolle prosequoi in their favor to testify as state witness, according to the Inquirer.
Forkey, the newspaper quoted, testified on behalf of the state while Garblah, a juvenile, told prosecutors that he did not participate in the crime.
Garblah’s claims of not being a participant differs from what Police Inspector General said during a press conference following the capture of the former and Anderson.
“We spoke to the two suspects and they all admitted to the commission of the crime,” Sudue said. “According to Aloysious, he was lured in the building by the nephew of the late John H. Tubman, who is Christian Byron Anderson.”
Meanwhile, Judge Roosevelt Willie of Criminal Court A has set the sentencing hearing of Anderson on Tuesday, July 5.