American murder suspect gets new lawyer

08 Dec 2014 12:10pm
WINDHOEK, 08 DEC (NAMPA) - American national Marcus Kevin Tomas, who has indicated that he wants to plead guilty to the killing of Windhoek resident Andre Heckmair in 2011, has been given a new defence lawyer.
The Ministry of Justice's Directorate of Legal Aid on Friday appointed Windhoek-based lawyer Monty Karuaihe to represent the accused.
Karuaihe was confirmed as Tomas' new legal representative before court on Monday when the American national and his co-accused, fellow countryman Kevan Donell Townsend made another appearance before High Court judge Christie Liebenberg.
On 12 November 2014, the 29-year-old Tomas surprised his first State-sponsored defence lawyer Werner van Rensburg during a four-hour marathon consultation at the Windhoek Correctional Services’ facility when he gave new and dramatic instructions to the lawyer.
At the time, Tomas indicated that he now wished to tender a guilty plea to the six charges levelled against him by the State.
These six charges are murder, robbery with aggravating circumstances, the unlawful importation of a firearm into Namibia, the illegal possession of a firearm, the illegal possession of ammunition, and attempting to defeat or obstruct the course of justice.
As a result of the accused person’s dramatic decision, Van Rensburg was left with no choice but to withdraw from the case.
The trial of the two Americans is now only expected to resume in the Windhoek High Court on 20 July 2015 due to a full court roll.
While awaiting trial, the 29-year-old Tomas unsuccessfully attempted to escape from the Windhoek Correctional Services’ facility (formerly as the Windhoek Central Prison) on 02 November this year.
In his failed attempt to regain freedom, he allegedly climbed a tree inside the premises of the Windhoek Correctional Services’ facility, and then tried to jump over the razor-sharp wire fence surrounding it.
He, however, did not manage to jump over the fence, and landed on top of it instead.
Tomas was found hanging from the fence by prison officers on 03 November between 07h00 and 07h30.
The prison authorities had to call in a team from the City of Windhoek’s Emergency Department to remove him, and he was then hospitalised.
Townsend, 28, who is being represented by Windhoek-based defence lawyer Boris Isaaks, is still denying any involvement in the alleged killing, and has already entered a plea of ‘not guilty’ to the six charges levelled against him.
Isaaks is also defending Townsend on the instructions of the Justice Ministry's Directorate of Legal Aid.
Deputy Prosecutor-General Antonia Verhoef is appearing for the State.
During the duo's first court appearance on 14 January 2011, Townsend denied knowing the deceased, claiming that he first heard that name after his arrest.
Tomas and Townsend are the only names mentioned by the Namibian Police so far in connection with the investigation into the murder.
According to the police, Heckmair was scheduled to return to Europe for studies after spending a holiday with his family in Namibia, but was found dead behind the wheel of a Land Cruiser pick-up at a cul-de-sac in Klein Windhoek.
Investigations launched by the police led them to a guesthouse in Windhoek West later that day, where they arrested Tomas and Townsend.
The Serious Crimes’ Unit of the police initially arrested the two on a charge of illegal possession of dagga so that they could keep them in custody while they were busy investigating the murder case and their links to Heckmair.
NamPol's Crimes’ Co-ordinator for the Khomas Region, Deputy Commissioner Sylvanus Nghishidimbwa said at the time that the police had been unable to locate the murder weapon or the mobile phone and wallet containing at least N.dollars 1 000, which were missing from Heckmair's car.
Townsend told the police that he is a resident of New York, while Tomas said he lived in Los Angeles.
The two Americans are being held at the Windhoek Correctional Services’ facility, with no option to post bail.