The uproar in the court room was immediately silenced as Judge Iheme made his way in, his face expressionless as usual. The Clerk immediately performed his duty and everyone was almost simultaneously on their feet, waiting for the Judge to settle down.
The days proceedings began shortly after, with the swearing in of the accused who was also the first witness on the plaintiff’s list. Mrs. Mornica Dogoyaro was sworn in and asked to enter the witness box. The marks on her face still very distinct and evident.
The deep bass voice of Judge Iheme filled the court room once more, drawing everyone’s attention away from the accused and back to himself. “Mrs Mornica, you have been accused of taking laws into your own hands by the single act of murdering your husband, Mr. Dogoyaro. Murder, I’m sure you know is a capital offense. How do you plead?” He asked, readjusting his glasses as though to get a better look at the accused in front of him.
“Not guilty your honor”, came the calm but terrified voice of Mrs Mornica. Even though she was innocent, she knew it was going to be a tough battle, if at all she stood a chance of wriggling out of this steaming escapade in one piece. She didn’t know much about the law, the lawyers and the proceedings of the court but she has always been a very observant person. The look on her Attorney’s face when he sighted the plaintiff’s Lawyer was enough to double the fear that had already filled a huge chunk of her system.
The incident came afresh in her memory. It had been one of those worrysome afternoons when her husband got angry over nothing. He had stormed into the house, screaming her name like she had caused him a tankful of fraustration. He had descended on her the moment he laid eyes on her. It wasn’t the first time neither was it the second. She was fast becoming his punching bag,a place where he let loose his anger, a place where he vented his fraustration.
Mornica had scurried off the moment the chance presented itself. She had run without looking back. She could remember hearing her husband’s footsteps for a short while as he chased after her. She had gone straight to her friend’s house to seek solace. Grace hasn’t only been a friend but had also become a sister. She has always been there for her like a sister would. Some persons in the past had in fact refused to accept the story of them not being related. The police had come to Grace’s house an hour after the incident to arrest Mornica for the murder of her husband.
With the marks and even the black eye from the beating still evident, how then could these people still acuse her of killing her husband?
She stood in the witness box, fighting so hard to hold back the tears. If anyone had told her that she would be tried for the death of an abusive and battering husband, she would have called the person a liar. She managed to tell the story, at least, the ones she remembered. Everyone in the court room pointed accusing fingers at her. They insist she was the last person seen in her husband’s premises prior to the incident.
Some witness, a young woman whom Monica could swear she had never seen in her life had testified, her testimony in synchrony with all that Mornica had been alleged of. The Judge adjourned the case with an advise that the defense counsel put in more work on the case as all they have done so far is hear say, with no concrete evidence to support his claims.
The days that lay between that first hearing and the next where not just tragic but traumatic for Mornica. She cried her eyes out, day in, day out.
The worst of her fears was confirmed when Judge Iheme, after taking the second and final hearing, having observed due process sentenced Mornica to life imprisonment according to section 33 of the Nigerian Constitution.
The arrival of the autopsy result Mornica’s Attorney had requested for but had been told that it wouldn’t be ready that day was all that was needed to turn the case around. The single most important evidence she needed to vindicate herself. It turned out her husband had died of ruptured coronary artery aneuyrism.