Murder suspect Tomas to undergo neurological examination

03 Aug 2015 17:30pm
WINDHOEK, 03 AUG (NAMPA) - The High Court on Monday directed American murder suspect, Marcus Kevin Tomas, be sent for a neurological examination to determine the extent of damage to his brain.
A neurological examination is the assessment of a person's sensory neuron and motor responses of the brain in order to determine whether the person’s nervous system is impaired or not.
The 29-year-old Tomas alongside co-accused and fellow countryman, Kevan Donell Townsend, 28, are both charged with the murder of Windhoek resident, Andre Heckmair in January 2011.
In a judgment handed down on Monday morning, High Court Judge Christie Liebenberg directed the Medical Superintendent of the Windhoek Central Hospital to appoint an independent and private neuropsychiatrist to evaluate Tomas and establish the extent of damage to his brain and other head injuries he sustained during a failed attempt to escape from the Windhoek Correctional Facility in November 2014.
Tomas was found hanging upside down when he jumped from a tree and landed on the barbed wire fence of the Windhoek Correctional Facility.
“A copy of the evidence given by State psychiatrist, Dr Ndahambelela Frederika Mthoko; State Clinical Psychologist, Lydia Hambeleleni Nangolo; and Occupational Therapist, Nina Balzer, together with a copy of this judgment, should be submitted to the Medical Superintendent of the Windhoek Central Hospital,” said Liebenberg.
The three medical experts were part of a team who observed the American murder suspect when he underwent a 30-day mental observation at the Windhoek Central Hospital's Psychiatric Unit in order to establish whether he is fit to stand trial.
Meanwhile, Nangolo earlier in her evidence said Tomas is suffering from some kind of memory loss as he cannot remember certain events and struggled to concentrate.
“There is no history in his medical file about any mental problems before he fell from the fence at the Windhoek Correctional Facility. I cannot exactly say when the memory problems started or what the cause of his memory problem is.
“Maybe these problems began as a result of the head injuries he sustained when he fell from the fencing during his failed attempt to escape. I feel that some part of his brain was damaged, thus making it difficult for him to remember events,” Nangolo explained.
She then proposed that Tomas be sent for a neurological examination in order to determine the extent of the damage to his brain.
A summary of a final clinical report compiled by Mthoko said Tomas is unfit to stand trial and could not put a proper defence or properly follow court proceedings.
These findings were also presented before Judge Liebenberg, who directed on Monday that Tomas be sent for a neurological examination to establish the extent of damage to his brain.
“Marcus Tomas knows he is in Namibia but does not know how he came to Namibia. He is struggling to recall all the information given to him. He does not recognise he has memory problems.
“He has problems with following instructions. In the result, Marcus Kevin Tomas is not fit to stand trial. He is not fit to understand and follow court proceedings,” reads the report compiled by Mthoko.
Tomas was admitted to the Windhoek Central Hospital's psychiatric section for a 30-day mental health fitness examination shortly after he indicated in November 2014 that he wants to plead guilty to the killing of Heckmair.
Tomas is charged with Heckmair's murder alongside co-accused Townsend.
The two Americans each face a charge of 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.
Tomas is represented by defence lawyer Monty Karuaihe.
Townsend, who is represented by Windhoek-based defence lawyer Joshua Kaumbi, still denies any involvement in the killing and has already entered a ‘not guilty’ plea to the six charges levelled against him by the State.
Tomas and Townsend are the only names mentioned by the Namibian Police Force (NamPol) so far in connection with investigations 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 Toyota Land Cruiser pick-up at a cul-de-sac in Klein Windhoek on 07 January 2011.
Investigations launched by the police led them to a guesthouse in Windhoek West later that day, where they arrested the two Americans.
The two Americans' case was on Monday remanded until 27 August this year for a pre-trial conference of case management.
The duo remains in police custody at the Windhoek Correctional Facility with no option to post bail.