WINDHOEK – One of the American nationals currently on trial in the Windhoek High Court suffered another legal setback when the court shot down his attempt to have the presiding judge step down last week.
Marcus Kevin Thomas, 33, through his defence counsel Titus Ipumbu brought an application to have the presiding Judge Christie Liebenberg recuse himself.
According to the defence team, Thomas would not get a fair trial should the matter continue before Judge Liebenberg as he will not be impartial.
However, the court ruled that Thomas and his defence team failed to convince the court that there is reasonable doubt through the presentation of prima facie evidence that the current presiding officer would be biased.
In 2014, Thomas also brought an application to have Judge Liebenberg recuse himself, which was also denied by the court.
Thomas and a fellow American Kevan Donnell Townsend, 33, went on trial in the Windhoek High Court in November 2014.
They are being prosecuted on charges of murder, robbery with aggravating circumstances, importation of firearm parts into Namibia without a permit, possession of a firearm and ammunition without a licence, and defeating or obstructing the course of justice, or attempting to do so.
All charges emanate from the death of Andre Peter Heckmair, 25, who was shot dead in Windhoek in January 2011.
The prosecution is alleging that Thomas and Townsend travelled from the United States to Namibia to kill Heckmair. They allegedly used a pistol and ammunition which they obtained illegally in Windhoek to murder Heckmair after they had lured him to a quiet street in the city’s Klein Windhoek suburb.
According to the police, Heckmair was found dead behind the wheel of a Land Cruiser in a cul-de-sac in Klein Windhoek.
So far the trial has been clouded with delays with Thomas attempting to escape from lawful custody in 2015, changing of lawyers, recusal applications and psychiatric evaluations.
The matter is set to be back in court on October 28 after Townsend’s defense attorney, Mbanga Siyomuinji, filed an application to have Townsend stand trial alone.