Murder Accused Sticks to Accident Claim

THE shotgun blast that claimed the life of a prison superintendent in Windhoek in September 2011 went off by accident, murder accused Gerhard Komeya has continued to claim to the end of his testimony in the Windhoek High Court.

Komeya completed his testimony in his own defence before Judge Naomi Shivute on Tuesday. After hearing closing arguments from state aocate Cliff Lutibezi and defence lawyer Monty Karuaihe, Judge Shivute postponed Komeya’s case to 21 August for the delivery of her verdict. In his testimony, Komeya told the judge the shot that killed his long-term domestic partner, prison officer Maria Sheehama (41), at their home in Hakahana in Windhoek on 10 September 2011 went off unintentionally while he and Sheehama were in a tussle for the possession of a shotgun that he was about to carry out of the house. Komeya (45) said Sheehama was upset when he told her he was leaving home on a trip to northern Namibia. She grabbed the shotgun that he was carrying as he was about to walk out of their house, and it was during an ensuing scuffle between the two of them that the fatal shot was fired, he claimed.

Sheehama was shot in the head. She died at the scene.

A state witness who told the court earlier during the trial that she saw Komeya reload the shotgun after he had fired a first shot at Sheehama, and that he shot her a second time in the mouth when he realised she was still alive after the first shot, was lying to the court, Komeya said.

Komeya could not explain why his shotgun was found to have been loaded with a live cartridge when a police officer inspected the firearm after the shooting.

His response to evidence that one spent shotgun shell was found on top of a fridge in the house after the shooting, while another spent shell was found in his trouser pocket, was that the police were supposed to have shown that evidence to him at the scene if that was so. Photographs of the spent cartridges at the scene are part of the evidence before the court.

Komeya has pleaded not guilty to charges of murder, attempted murder, alternatively negligent discharge or handling of a firearm, pointing of a firearm, malicious damage to property, and defeating or obstructing the course of justice, or attempting to do so.

Except for being accused of having murdered Sheehama, Komeya is also accused of having shot at a two-year-old child, who was not struck directly, when the late Sheehama was killed, of having pointed his shotgun at Sheehama’s sister at the scene of the killing, of having deliberately broken a cellphone that belonged to Sheehama, and of trying to frustrate the police investigation into the death of Sheehama by hiding and trying to destroy the spent cartridges of the shotgun.

Lutibezi argued that the spent shells found at the scene corroborated the versions of the witnesses who told the court that Komeya had fired more than one shot, and ruled out Komeya’s claim that the shooting had been an accident.

The prosecutor also argued that Komeya changed his version once he started to testify, claiming that he and Sheehama were wrestling over the shotgun when the fatal shot went off, after his initial version had been that both of them were stumbling backwards when the shot went off.

Komeya lied to the court, Lutibezi charged. He argued that the prosecution proved beyond reasonable doubt that Komeya committed murder with a direct intention to kill.

Karuaihe asked the judge to find Komeya not guilty.

He argued that the prosecution’s witnesses contradicted each other on material issues and that it was clear that especially one of the witnesses, who is a sister of Sheehama, harboured a grudge against Komeya.

The shooting of Sheehama was “a horrible accident” as claimed by Komeya, and the state could not allege it was premeditated, Karuaihe argued.

Komeya is being kept in custody.

Source : The Namibian