Heckmair murder accused found guilty

In a matter that has required 12 years to conclude, American nationals Kevan Townsend and Marcus Thomas were on Wednesday found guilty in the Windhoek High Court of the 2011 murder of Namibian Andre Heckmair.

The duo was also found guilty on an alternate theft charge, while Thomas was also found guilty of illegally importing ammunition and possessing a firearm, as well as defeating the course of justice. Thomas defeated the course of justice when he stole a notebook belonging to an investigator, tearing pages from it and burning them.

Judge Christie Liebenberg, who handed down the verdict, also ruled that the State witnesses in the matter answered the questions frankly and honestly in a matter in which the two men were accused of fatally shooting Heckmair at close range, in a quiet street in Klein Windhoek on 07 January 2011. The deceased was also robbed of his cellphone and 100 Swiss Francs.

At the close of the State’s case in May this year, the convicted murderers opted to remain silent, despite pleading not guilty. They also did not call witnesses to testify in their favor. This, according to Liebenberg, strengthened the State’s case.

Thomas and Townsend were arrested on 07 January 2011 at a guest house in Windhoek West. State witnesses said the two were not in their rooms at the time of the murder.

The judge also said the deceased had a lunch appointment with Thomas and Townsend, and that he had been in contact with Thomas. It was in addition found that upon their arrival in Namibia, Thomas started enquiring about Heckmair, who was visiting his family for the holidays. He was based in Switzerland. Prior to this, he had lived in New York.

In his ruling, Liebenberg also said that it has been established that the two men did not travel to Namibia as tourists, as evidenced in their submission of a false physical address and Thomas’ false passport number on the check-in at their guest house.

“The only reasonable inference to be drawn is that the accused persons planned the murder of the deceased and they acted with direct intent and common purpose,” Liebenberg remarked.

Commenting on the sideline of the ruling, Andre’s parents Birgit and Peter Heckmair said they are happy with the conviction, but declined to comment further, until the perpetrators are sentenced.

Source: The Namibian Press Agency