A 30-year-old woman from Aussenkehr, accused of killing her six-month-old son by throwing him on the ground and fracturing his skull, continued her claims of innocence when she testified in her own defence yesterday.
She pleaded not guilty to a charge of murder, read with the provisions of the Combating of Domestic Violence Act, before Windhoek High Court Judge Claudia Claasen at the start of her trial already.
Priscilla Daukeline Stuurman answered not guilty through a Damara/Nama interpreter after State advocate Taodago Gaweseb put the charges to her. It is alleged that she intentionally killed Stiaan Cidio Stuurman by hitting his head on the ground, causing his skull to fracture and leading to his death one day later.
According to the summary of substantial facts in the indictment, the accused expressed to witnesses on 23 December 2019 that she will kill the baby, and refused to breastfeed the infant.
It is further alleged that during the evening hours of the same night, she fractured the baby’s skull by hitting his head multiple times on the ground, whereafter she reported to neighbours’ that she had murdered the infant. The baby died the next day due to multiple intracranial bleedings caused by the assault on him.
Yesterday, she continued her denials while being questioned by her Legal Aid-appointed lawyer, Milton Engelbrecht. She merely confirmed what she stated in her Section 115 statement, where she denied the assault and said she had no intention whatsoever to harm or injure the infant.
“At the time when I realised what had happened, I was in complete and utter shock. I can only state to this honourable court that the incident is a tragic result of an unforeseen act which occurred on that fatal night, and something that I am extremely remorseful of and find extremely difficult to cope with every day of my life,” Stuurman stated.
According to her, the incident happened while she was breastfeeding the child and stood up to smoke outside. It was very dark in the room, and during that time, she stumbled because of the alcohol that she was consuming.
“The deceased (baby) then fell out of my arms on the sand. I picked up the deceased (baby) and lay him outside, and then ran to the house of Lena Orr for help,” she explained.
Orr has in the meantime passed away.
She also rubbished claims by one of the State witnesses, Estina Hanse, that she did not want the child, regularly left him abandoned for hours, and often refused to breastfeed him. On the day in question, the witness said, the accused left the house early in the morning. She thus went to look for her later that day and found her near a shebeen, smelling of alcohol.
She further said when she handed the baby to Stuurman to feed him, the latter refused, and put the baby on the ground. Hanse said she then took the accused to the police station, where she was forced to feed the baby. Later that night, the witness recounted, she returned from walking a friend halfway, and came across the accused, who told her “there lies the corpse, go and report me.”
Hanse further informed the court that after searching for a light in vain, she saw the outline of the baby boy lying on the ground next to a big stone next to her house, which she and the accused shared. She added that she and Orr then went to the police station and clinic, respectively, to report the issue.
The baby was transported to the Karasburg State Hospital by ambulance.
Stuurman vehemently denied that this ever took place, or that she uttered those words.
The matter continues today with Stuurman, who is on bail, facing cross-examination from the prosecutor. -email@example.com