Schieffer Questions Evidence Used in Conviction

Double murder convict Romeo Schieffer wants leave from the court to appeal both his conviction and the 48-year sentence he received in the Windhoek High Court late last year. Schieffer was convicted of killing both his parents Frans and Fransiena Schieffer, both 50 years old at the time of their demise, at their house in Khomasdal on January 18, 2008. Schieffer’s lawyer Aocate Winnie Christians said that although a trial judge may have justifiable problems in deciding whether a judgment he had handed down was correct or not, he should not allow his own perception of the matter or even personal feelings to cloud his better judgment about a court of appeal coming to a different conclusion.

He said an applicant for leave to appeal should merely satisfy the court that, should leave to appeal be granted, he has reasonable prospects of success on appeal. Christians said although circumstantial evidence was not necessarily weaker than direct evidence the question remained whether the inferences to be drawn from this evidence under the circumstances were the only reasonable inferences, which excluded any other reasonable inference.

According to Christians the circumstantial evidence was not supported by the DNA evidence. Christians said the testimony of the previous chief of the serious crime unit Michael Unandapo was riddled with inconsistencies to such an extent that it should be totally rejected as false.

He said the police from the onset targeted Romeo as the guilty person and did not even bother to investigate further. He labelled it “shoddy police work”.

Regarding the sentence meted out to Romeo, Christians said although he was convicted of very serious and prevalent offences, the moral blameworthiness of the applicant needs to be distinguished from other similar offences, adding that the applicant was very young during the commissioning of the offences.

While society expected offenders to be punished to show its indignation and to deter would-be offenders, the retributive or revenge element should play a “very limited role” in sentencing, Christians emphasised.

He argued before Judge Naomi Shivute that although she was entitled to impose a lengthy term of imprisonment, the cumulative effect of 48 years imprisonment on an 18-year-old dyslectic first offender certainly induced a sense of shock. He concluded that the court should sincerely consider whether another court might, not shall, come to different conclusion and prayed for leave to appeal be granted.

State Aocate Palmer Khumalo, while he was not involved in the original case when former Deputy Prosecutor General Belinda Wantenaar prosecuted, argued that no reasonable prospects for success on appeal existed as Schieffer was properly convicted on the available evidence, which proved his guilt beyond a reasonable doubt. He said the trial court reached the only decision it could after carefully scrutinising the evidence adduced carefully. This evidence included the voice identification of Jo-Anne Dixon, the blood stains on the shorts, T-shirt, socks and shoelace of the accused, the DNA evidence and the shoe print in the blood on the floor, Khumalo said. “All these pieces of evidence led to proof beyond a reasonable doubt as to the applicant as the perpetrator of these offences,” Khumalo stressed,

Khumalo also said the court ascertained correctly that the applicant did not show any remorse and as such the discretion it used in arriving at a suitable sentence was correct. He said society expected the courts to mete out severe sentences for crimes of this nature and the sentence of 48 years was just and correct. Judge Shivute indicated that she would endeavour to pronounce herself on the matter on or before June 03 this year.

Source : New Era