Defence wants ‘suicide’ verdict in farm death

The defence counsel of an Aranos farmer, accused of killing his 55-year-old wife with a single gunshot to the head, wants the court to rule a verdict of suicide when the court pronounces itself on the matter on November 24.

Advocate Louis Botes told Windhoek High Court Judge Naomi Shivute on Monday that the only logical conclusion the court can come to is that Anette Barnard killed herself.

Her husband, Willem Visagie Barnard, 65, is currently on trial for her alleged murder that took place at the couple's farm Choris in the Aranos area on April 9, 2010.

Botes argued that any admissions his client, Willem Visagie Barnard, made to persons on the night in question are inadmissible as they were recorded in breach of his constitutional rights.

In any event, Botes said, Barnard was so out of it that whatever he said cannot be reliable. Judge Shivute reserved her judgement yesterday after hearing substantive arguments from the state and defence counsels.

She also ordered the counsels submit written arguments on or before October 27 on the plea entered at the start of his trial.

Barnard disputes firing the fatal shot that killed Anette Barnard, and in the event the court finds that he is responsible for killing the deceased he claims non-pathological criminal incapacity, which is temporary insanity caused by taking a combination of Benzodiazepine drugs and alcohol.

Judge Shivute wants the lawyers to address her on whether Barnard can forward two different defence strategies and to provide her authorities on it.

State Advocate Cliff Lutibezi, who took over the prosecution from Palmer Khumalo, told the court it is not in dispute that the accused and deceased were home alone the night of the incident and although this evidence by itself does not prove the accused killed the deceased, there is direct evidence that links the accused to the murder of the deceased and this evidence comes in the form of direct and indirect admissions he made to several witnesses. He said the evidence by Dr Paul Stefan Ludik that the deceased had gunpowder residue on both her hands, while the accused had it on his left hand only, does not mean he did not kill the deceased.

He said the evidence does not suggest the deceased shot herself as the defence wants the court to believe. According to him the admissions the accused made to various people about him having had enough of his wife, and that he shot her, cannot be wished away by the defence. According to Lutibezi, the fact that the accused carried on intelligible conversations with the people that arrived there after he called his son-in-law himself, proves that he, despite his intoxication, his slurred speech and staggering about, was capable of reasoning and coherent thoughts inconsistent with his defence of being so drunk that he cannot be held responsible.

According to the State, the accused never disputed killing the deceased, only that he cannot remember anything that happened that night after he fell asleep on the sofa next to his wife.

Barnard claims he passed out in his living room after consuming some brandy and medicine, and that when he woke up he saw his wife lying with her head on the coffee table in a pool of blood.

Source: New Era Newspaper Namibia