American Murder Suspect Unfit for Trial

Judge Christi Liebenberg was yesterday informed that American murder suspect Marcus Thomas is unfit to stand trial because of a medical condition called neurocognitive disorder.

According to Wikipedia, a neurocognitive deficit is a reduction or impairment of cognitive function in one of these areas, but particularly when physical changes can be seen to have occurred in the brain, such as after neurological illness, mental illness, drug use, or brain injury.

According to a report compiled by Dr Frederika Mthoko, Thomas had impairment in cognitive performances.

She said that while he knew who he is and where he is, he did not know the date or year.

According to her, Thomas struggled to recall events in his life that happened prior to the crime and that he struggled to recall information given to him.

“Only after a long period of time after much replication did he remember something. He did not recognise that he has memory problems,” reads the medical report.

The doctor said that during assessment, Thomas kept on repeating “I am not stupid, I am smart.”

She further said his memory problems were accompanied by slowed information processing as identified by slowed response time and he had a problem initiating problem-solving strategies.

She further said she found that Thomas struggled with abstract reasoning and he had “noticeable word finding difficulty” and had problems following instructions. She further said that his CT brain is within “normal limits”.

Deputy Prosecutor General Antonia Verhoef did not take the assessment lying down and informed the court that she has serious misgivings about the report.

She said the report is incomplete and does not give adequate information on how the doctor came to her diagnosis.

Verhoef requested the court to allow her to call Mthoko to explain her findings.

Judge Liebenberg granted her request and postponed the matter to June 25 for the doctor to come and testify. The mental observation Thomas underwent was the result of a request by his former lawyer Werner van Rensburg after Thomas hanged for more than two hours from a fence after a botched escape attempt. Soon after the failed escape, he changed his plea from not guilty to guilty, which set alarm bells ringing in Van Rensburg’s head.

This prompted Van Rensburg to ask the court to refer Thomas for psychiatric observation, as he questioned Thomas’s mental capacity to appreciate the seriousness of the offence and the consequences of a guilty plea.

Thomas is now represented by Monty Karuaihe after Van Rensburg withdrew from the case.

Thomas and fellow American Kevan Townsend are accused of the assassination-style murder of Cattle Baron heir, Andre Heckmair.

Thomas and Townsend are accused of killing Heckmair with a single shot to the back of his head on January 7, 2011, at Gusinde Street in Windhoek and robbing him of his cellphone and wallet containing at 100 Swiss Franc. They also allegedly imported two 9mm pistol barrels without a permit and allegedly possessed a 7.65mm pistol and ammunition without a licence.

It is further alleged that the accused removed a notebook from police custody after police seized it as an exhibit andor burned, destroyed or otherwise disposed of some of the pages in the book.

The main part of the trial was already postponed to July 20.

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Source : New Era