The child, who is being claimed by two men of fathering her, Mother Janice Apu Leama died December 12, 2021, paternity has been contested in court since December 2021. The two men claimed to have a love affairs with the late mother while she was alive.
On December 31, 2021, Mr. James A. KOLLIE filed in a case at the Careysburg Magisterial Court against Ms. Agatha Dewart and Mr. Elijah Freeman, for the crimes of “KIDNAPPING AND INTERFERANCE WITH CHILD CUSTODY”.
According to the complainant Mr. Kollie, following the death of the mother of little Jannave Windor Blessing Kollie and because of the too many of crowd pulling in with crying due to Janince sudden death, he asked Agatha Dewart to take Jannave at her house since she Agatha was a close friend of her late mother and living in the same location of the decease to allow her (Jannave) to recuperate pending the closure of school for the seasons and funeral of her late mother.
He noted that both agreed, and she took the little girl at her place that same day. He said they were communicating until December 22, 2021, when he stopped hearing from Jannave via her phone number and decided to reach out to Agatha to know her house for regular visitation pending the funeral but to no avail until December 24, 2021, when he insisted that he needed to see child. To his surprised, Ms. Agatha texted him a number telling him via phone communication to contact the person she described as Jannave’s uncle. He said that he and his wife reached out to the fellow who introduced himself as Mr. Elijah Freeman and directed them where to meet him.
Since then, Mr. Freeman had refused to return the child to Agatha and other family members on ground that he is the biological father of little Janneva.
“Following initial court hearings on January 3, 2022, couple with witness’s testimonies, presentation of evidence, cross examination which lasted up to Wednesday, March 16, 2022; the defendants and their lawyers deliberately stayed away from Court proceedings until June 20, 2022 when the Honourable Court issued writ of arrest against Ms. Agatha and Mr. Freeman, charged with the crime “Criminal Contempt of Court and Bill Jumping” but the writ return from sheriff, Capt. Ramb T. De-shell indicated that defendants were on the run.
On June 27, 2022, the Honourable Court issued Arrest Order under the signature of Magistrate John Lafayette Griggs, endorsed by the office of the Inspector General of the Liberia National Police (LNP).
On July 13, 2022, Mr. Freeman was arrested at the Saynjay checkpoint, Grand Cape Mount County, brought to LNP Headquarters in Monrovia and placed behind bars. The next day, he (Freeman) was transported to the Careysburg Magisterial Court but freed on bill. On July 29, 2022, Magistrate Griggs granted continues of case, urging parties to be in readiness to receive the ruling on Monday, August 8, 2022, but rather engaged in extensive excuses couple with other strange practices and behaviours with an intent to place the families, friends and sympathizers of Mr. Kollie in a harmway of the rule of law of the Republic of Liberia. Mr. Kollie told reporters.
Mr. Kollie and family have been protesting before the Court demanding the Magistrate Griggs to forward related case ruling to the Honourable Circuit Court or relevant Court responsible for paternity related cases for due processes. They cried for speedy due process in accordance with the RULE OF LAW of the Republic of Liberia, considering the safety of the innocent child.
However, following series of protestations by family members, friends and sympathizers of Mr. Kollie at the Careysburg Magisterial Court calling on the court to come down with ruling in relation to the matter, Magistrate John Lafayette Griggs finally ruled on Friday, September 30, 2022, in accordance with the rule of law.
In his Ruling, Magistrate John Lafayette Griggs dropped the charged of kidnapping since it could not be established on ground, all of the parties are acting in the interest of the child while charge of “Interference with child custody” remains.
He said that since both men did not made claims why the child’s mother was alive and also not being in custody of the child while the mother was alive couple with holding any legal title to the mother such as marriage, there’s no remedy under the law to give any of the two men redress.
He ordered that in the wisdom of the court a DNA be carryout through a rightful court to place the child in possession of her biological father.
Magistrate Griggs said that the issue of custody could not also be established and order that child be returned to the family of her late mother until any of the father can petition a higher court for DNA noting that both men are fathers of interest. The charged of “Interference with Child Custody” was also dismissed.
The Court further ordered the two men to continue to play their fatherly role by showing love to the child and asked that each of the fathers remit the amount US$50.00 monthly for the upkeep of the girl why awaiting the outcome of the DNA.
The court has mandated Ms. Agatha Dewart and Mr. Elijah Freeman to produce the living body of little Janneva in court on Friday, October 7, 2022, to be turned into the custody of a family member of her mother.
No party made objection to the ruling that was read in open court.
However, speaking to journalists’ minutes after the ruling, Mr. James A. Kollie the complainant said that he accepts the ruling because the court lacks jurisdiction and scientific means to determine paternity of the child. He noted that it has been his wish for the court to recommend the conduct of a DNA to establish who is the biological father of little Janneva.
He expressed disappointment over Magistrate Griggs decision to escape key testimonies of the lady who delivered (Midwife) the child and some of his, especially those that has to do with the child living with him up to the age 7 in Voinjama before coming to her late mother.
“My interest is taking delivery of my child. My only disappointment is that after a long delay by the Court and knowing very well that it lacks jurisdiction and scientific means to determine the paternity of child as well as causing us huge, wasted resources is unfortunate.