Namibia: Murder Convict Maintains Innocence

THE man convicted of raping and murdering the manager of a tourist lodge near Etosha National Park almost eight years ago is maintaining that he is innocent, his defence lawyer said in the Windhoek High Court yesterday.

Addressing Judge Christie Liebenberg on the sentencing that awaits his client, Jesaya Nicanor, Mese Tjituri said Nicanor was maintaining his innocence, and felt that he was a target of a law enforcement conspiracy.

Confronted with severely incriminating DNA evidence linking him to the late Fiona Holton (52), who was killed in her staff house at Etosha Safari Camp south of Okaukeujo during the period of 20 to 21 September 2008, Nicanor questioned during his trial how it was possible that his DNA was found on the body of Holton. He also claimed someone in the police must have planted a spot of Holton's blood on a pair of his shorts.

Judge Liebenberg found Nicanor (41) guilty of rape and murder, but not guilty of housebreaking and defeating or obstructing the course of justice, or attempting to do so, on Monday.

DNA evidence connecting Nicanor to Holton and implicating him in a sexual assault on her played a major part in his conviction.

Bolstering the DNA evidence was the testimony of two witnesses who told the court Nicanor had mentioned that a woman had been raped and murdered at Etosha Safari Camp before colleagues of Holton found her lying dead on the bedroom floor of her staff house on the afternoon of 21 September 2008.

In his verdict, Judge Liebenberg said that given that no semen sample had been taken from Nicanor during the investigation of the case, there was no logical explanation for how semen matching his DNA profile could have possibly found its way into Holton's genitalia. Logic dictated that it could only have been deposited when a sexual act was committed with Holton, the judge found.

He further stated that it would have been virtually impossible for a spot of Holton's blood to have been placed on Nicanor's shorts by the police or as a result of contamination when exhibits in the case were handled, given that Holton's body was already in a mortuary far from the scene of the crime when the police collected the shorts from Nicanor almost a week after the killing.

Judge Liebenberg also found - based on the nature and extent of the head injuries that claimed Holton's life - that Nicanor had a direct intention to kill when he ended her life.

Nicanor chose not to testify in mitigation of sentence yesterday.

Tjituri told the judge that according to Nicanor, he is the father of 17 children, born from 14 different mothers. He has also fathered a set of twins who are yet to be born, and who will bring the number of his offspring to 19.

Nicanor was trained as an air conditioning and refrigeration technician, Tjituri said.

The court heard during the trial that he installed two air conditioners in Holton's house at Etosha Safari Camp during the week before she was killed.

While Nicanor was maintaining that he had no part in the death of Holton, he was also respecting the judgement of the court, Tjituri said.

He argued that the two crimes of which Nicanor was found guilty were closely related, and that Nicanor should be sentenced to concurrent, rather than consecutive, prison terms on the two charges.

State advocate Felistas Shikerete-Vendura argued that Nicanor committed two separate offences, and that he needed to be punished for each of those.

She also argued that the crimes were premeditated, that he attacked Holton in the sanctity of her home, and that he expressed no remorse.

A sentence of 18 to 20 years' imprisonment on the rape charge, and a 35-year prison term on the count of murder, would be appropriate, Shikerete-Vendura suggested. The sentences should be ordered to run consecutively, she added.

Judge Liebenberg postponed Nicanor's sentencing to 6 September.

He is to remain in custody in the meantime.

Source: The Namibian.