Murder suspect not admitted for second mental check-up yet

16 Oct 2015 11:50am
WINDHOEK, 16 OCT (NAMPA) - American murder suspect Marcus Kevin Tomas has not yet been admitted to the Windhoek Central Hospital's psychiatric unit for a second mental observation.
Tomas and co-accused, fellow countryman Kevan Donell Townsend, are both charged with the murder of Windhoek resident André Heckmair in January 2011. Tomas was 29 years old and Townsend 28 at the time of their arrest.
Tomas made another appearance before Windhoek High Court Judges Christie Liebenberg and Naomi Shivute on Friday morning when Deputy Prosecutor-General Antonia Verhoef informed the court that Tomas has not yet been admitted to the central hospital's psychiatric unit, where he is scheduled to undergo a second mental observation to establish whether he is really not fit to stand trial.
Verhoef said the Ministry of Health and Social Services is still busy setting up a team of medical experts from the local private health sector or from neighbouring South Africa to observe Tomas for a period of 30 days.
On 03 August 2015, he was referred for a second mental fitness observation on a request by the prosecution representative - Deputy Prosecutor-General Antonia Verhoef - after the State strongly disputed the findings of the American murder suspect's first mental observation report that he was suffering from mental problems and therefore, is not fit to stand trial.
This second mental fitness observation will also include a neurological examination to determine the extent of damage to his brain and other head injuries he allegedly sustained during a failed attempt to escape from the Windhoek Correctional Facility in November 2014.
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.
During the failed attempt to escape, Tomas was found hanging upside down when he jumped from a tree and landed on the barbed wire fence of the Windhoek Correctional Facility.
The first mental fitness examination was conducted by a medical team of State psychiatrist Dr Ndahambelela Frederika Mthoko; State clinical psychologist Lydia Hambeleleni Nangolo; and occupational therapist, Nina Balzer.
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 during observation.
Nangolo then proposed that he be sent for a neurological examination.
A summary of a final clinical report compiled by Mthoko said Tomas is unfit to stand trial and could not put up a proper defence or properly follow court proceedings.
These findings were also presented before Judge Liebenberg, who directed on 03 August this year that Tomas be sent for a second psychiatric observation and a neurological examination.
He was admitted to the Windhoek Central Hospital's psychiatric section for the first 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.
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 duo remains in custody at the Windhoek Correctional Facility with no option to post bail until 13 November this year for another pre-trial conference of case management.