CORRECTION: Key American murder suspect loses lawyer

27 Jan 2016 13:00pm
REPLACING 'losses' WITH 'loses' IN STORY TITLE.


WINDHOEK, 27 JAN (NAMPA) - American national, Marcus Kevin Tomas, who is facing a charge of murder in connection with the killing of Windhoek resident Andre Heckmair in 2011, is now without a lawyer.
Tomas was left with no representation in the murder trial following the withdrawal of his State-funded defence lawyer Monty Karuaihe from the case on Wednesday.
This was made public when the 29-year-old Tomas and his accomplice, countryman Kevan Donell Townsend, 28, made a brief appearance during a pre-trial conference of case management before High Court Judge Christie Liebenberg here on Wednesday morning.
According to information provided before court by defence lawyer Mbanga Siyomuinji, who is representing Townsend, Karuaihe is no longer interested in the case and has therefore decided to withdraw from representing Tomas.
It is the second lawyer to withdraw from the case. Lawyer Willem Visser decided not to continue after Tomas told the court at beginning of the trial that he wants to plead guilty to the charges.
The two Americans' murder case was then postponed to 24 February 2016 to allow the Justice Ministry's Directorate of Legal Aid to make arrangements for the appointment of another defence lawyer for Tomas.
The case was remanded until the aforesaid date as per agreement reached between Siyomuinji and Deputy Prosecutor-General Antonia Verhoef in court.
In the matter, the two accused men each face six charges 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.
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.
Townsend and Tomas are the only names mentioned by the Namibian Police Force (NamPol) so far in connection with the investigation into the murder.
According to the police, Heckmair was found dead behind the wheel of a Land Cruiser pick-up at a cul-de-sac in Klein Windhoek residential area on 07 January 2011.
Investigations launched by the police led them to a guesthouse in Windhoek West later that day, where they arrested Townsend and Tomas on 13 January 2011 on a charge of illegal possession of marijuana so that they could keep them in custody while they were busy investigating the murder case and their links to Heckmair.
NamPol's CrimesÂ’ Co-ordinator for the Khomas Region, Deputy Commissioner Sylvanus Nghishidimbwa said at the time the police had been unable to locate the murder weapon or the mobile phone and wallet containing at least N.dollars 1 000 that were missing from Heckmair's car.
Townsend told the police that he is a resident of New York, while Tomas said he lives in Los Angeles.
The two Americans are held at the Windhoek Correctional ServicesÂ’ facility, with no option to post bail until their next court appearance on 24 February this year.
(NAMPA)
SKE/CT/ND