A former agent of the elite presidential guard, the Executive Protection Service (EPS), has pleaded not guilty to the murder of an unarmed civilian in a drive-by shooting. Patrick Kollie is accused of murdering Valentine Johnson in the early hours of July 4, 2022, at the Police Academy community.
The killing shook the country and brought back memories of state security personnel’s careless use of firearms, which resulted in body damage or death. However, Kollie pled not guilty in Criminal Court “A to the state-level accusation of murder, for which he was indicted by the Montserrado County Grand Jury.
Kollie’s murder charge is a first-degree felony punishable by death or life imprisonment under Sections 50.5 and 51.3 of the Penal Law – Title 26 – Liberian Code of Laws Revised. He was read the charges against him in open court, and he was given the opportunity to enter his plea. Kollie was then requested to enter a guilty or not guilty plea at the end of the reading. “I am not guilty,” he said confidently.
His ‘not guilty’ statement shifted the burden of proof to the prosecution to show the defendant’s guilt in the commission of the murder offense.
The prosecution team at the Ministry of Justice (MoJ), led by Cllr. Wesseh A. Wesseh, the Assistant Minister for Litigation, now has the burden of establishing beyond a reasonable doubt to the 15-member jury that Kollie was responsible for Johnson’s death and that, in doing so, he acted “in conscious disregard of extreme risk of death or serious bodily injury.”
The prosecution must persuade the judge or jury panel, in accordance with section 14.1 of the country’s Penal Law, that the defendant (a) purposely or knowingly caused the death of another human being; or (b) caused the death of another human being under circumstances that showed extreme disregard for the value of human life.