State wants life for American killers

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State wants life for American killers

Deputy prosecutor general Antonia Verhoef yesterday requested Windhoek High Court judge Christie Liebenberg to sentence the two American citizens, convicted of an assassin-like murder of Namibian André Heckmair in 2011, to life imprisonment.

According to her, their moral blameworthiness is such that any sentence less than life would be an insult to Heckmair’s family.

“We are dealing with very dangerous criminals here,” said Verhoef. 

She further said there was no motive for the murder, as the accused continue with their denials. 

While it is their right to maintain their innocence – even considering their convictions, Verhoef said, Heckmair’s family needs to know what happened and why. 

“The accused did not show any remorse – only their lawyers offered professed regret for the lost life from the bar, but that does not equate to remorse,” she submitted, further stating that regret is not remorse, and that Heckmair’s execution was planned. 

“Evidence showed that the accused already met in New York – and flew from there, to Windhoek with the express goal of murdering the deceased,” she said.

With regards to the 13 years the accused already spent in pre-trial custody, Verhoef said it was mainly due to their own doing. 

Verhoef told the judge that the agony and pain suffered by Heckmair’s family must be taken as an aggravating factor. 

“The courts must send a deterrent message that the levels of violent crimes and the prevalence thereof will not be tolerated,” she said.  

Salomon Kanyemba, on behalf of Marcus Thomas, argued that his client was a youthful offender of 26 at the time of the offences. While his client maintains his innocence, he regrets that a life was lost, he said. 

According to Kanyemba, the 13 years his client spent in prison in pre-trial custody must be subtracted from the sentence imposed. 

He proposed a sentence of 20 years for the murder conviction and fines of N$2 000 for each count of arms and ammunition convictions and the attempt to defeat the course of justice convictions. 

Lawyer Mbanga Siyomunji, on behalf of Kevan Townsend, submitted that his client too was a first-time youthful offender at the age of 24 when the offences were committed. 

He said Townsend is suffering from Hyperthyroidism, kidney disease and liver damage, which are serious illnesses. 

He too asked for a sentence of 20 years on the murder conviction and fines on the arms and ammunition convictions.

Judge Liebenberg convicted Thomas and Townsend of murder with direct intent on 6 September and found that they acted with a common purpose in committing the crime.

While there was no direct evidence that linked the accused to the murder and robbery, the circumstantial evidence in its totality is overwhelming, the judge noted. 

Thomas and Townsend opted not to testify in their own defence after the State closed its case. 

However, the duo applied for a discharge in terms of Section 174 of the Criminal Procedure Act, which the court dismissed. 

Judge Liebenberg will impose sentences on 15 November.