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Americans’ murder trial resumes

2021-08-17  Maria Amakali

Americans’ murder trial resumes
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The trial of two American nationals accused of murdering a young Namibian man more than 10 years ago in Windhoek, resumed in the High Court yesterday. 

The trial of Marcus Thomas (36) and co-accused Kevan Townsend (35), which started in November 2014, has been moving slowly due to delays on the part of the accused. 

These adjournments range from withdrawals of several State-funded defence lawyers who were representing them, to applications for the recusal of the judge as well as Townsend’s lawsuit against the government over solitary confinement.

The trial was also delayed following an application by Thomas to be declared mentally unfit to stand trial, coupled with his failed attempt to escape from police custody and then the Covid-19 lockdown. 

During yesterday’s proceedings, State witness Boncetta Gaingos took the stand before Judge Christie Liebenberg. 

She informed the court that she worked as a receptionist at Cardboard Box Backpackers in Windhoek. 

On 27 November 2010, Townsend and Thomas arrived together and checked themselves in at their establishment, she testified. 

They had allegedly reserved a single private room, and were scheduled to stay there for several days.  While she was showing them around, Thomas allegedly enquired about the package they were due to receive. 

“Since I had no knowledge about the parcel, I enquired with my boss, and he confirmed that he had a conversation with Thomas about the parcel they were to receive,” explained Gaingos. 

She said the following morning, she noticed that despite the two men having only reserved a single room, they slept in different rooms. 

She further testified that Townsend and Thomas left in the company of a man who arrived at the dwelling in a white Citi Golf vehicle. 

She, however, does not recall them checking out or paying for their stay.

During cross-examination, Townsend’s lawyer Mbanga Siyomunji said his client denies ever having been at Cardboard Box Backpackers and in the company of Thomas. Thomas and Townsend are being tried on a count of murder, a count of robbery with aggravating circumstances, three counts of contravening the Ammunitions Act, and a count of defeating or obstructing or attempting to defeat or obstruct the course of justice. 

All the charges are connected to the killing of Andre Peter Heckmair (25) in Windhoek on 7 January 2011.

The prosecution is alleging that the two accused met  in New York in the United States of America, where Thomas paid the bail of Townsend. 

After the release of Townsend, they travelled to Helsinki in Finland, from where they forwarded a package to Namibia containing a firearm silencer but which was labelled ‘furniture spare’ or ‘table leg replacement’ in preparation for their plan to travel to Namibia and allegedly kill the victim.

After they arrived in Namibia, court documents state that they started making enquiries on the whereabouts of Heckmair, and bought an illegal 7.65mm pistol. 

After they managed to contact Heckmair, they lured him to the quiet Gusinde Street in Windhoek’s Eros suburb, where they shot him once in the head and robbed him of his cell phone and wallet containing 100 Swiss franc.

Thomas and Townsend were arrested at a guesthouse in Windhoek on the evening after the killing.

After their arrest, the indictment further reads, they managed to steal the notebook from the police when they were brought to one of the investigators’ offices to collect their clothing and toiletries.

An online campaign under the #Justice4Kevan, which is spearheaded by Townsend’s father, Roger Bonds, in an effort to have his son released from police custody, gained traction this past week when American rapper Sean ‘Diddy’ Combs added his voice to it.  

The trial is scheduled to continue today.

-mamakali@nepc.com.na


2021-08-17  Maria Amakali

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