ONE of the American nationals accused of the murder of Andre Heckmaire came out strongly denying the ploy to stall and delay the trial, distancing himself from his fellow countryman whose latest application is to have the presiding judge recuse himself.
Kevin Townsend, argued in the High Court that, he has been ready to proceed with the murder trial since 2015 and that he is tired of being tied to Marcus Thomas, who faked mental illness that year after his botched prison break attempt.
Townsend’s legal representative applied to court for a separation of trial.
“The psychiatric evaluations had nothing to do with my client. He had to endure all that. He was forced to wait for rulings to be made. Most of the reasons the trial had to be stalled cannot be attributed to my client. He is being prejudiced by being tied to Thomas as his rights to a speedy trial are infringed upon,” his Private Lawyer Manga Siyomundji argued in support of the application.
Townsend’s lawyer also pointed out that as a result of the delay in the trial he has become financially prejudiced.
Last weekend, for example, he was in consultations with his lawyer preparing for the trial which was scheduled for Monday but unbeknownst to him, Thomas was bringing another application to get the presiding judge to recues himself from the case.
Townsend’s father has also travelled from USA to support his son during the proceedings.
“A whole week has been wasted. A family members travelled from the United States. This is a waste of resources for nothing. Based on all this, this court has the discretion to separate the trial of the accused persons. We however acknowledge that it is within Thomas’s rights to bring forth whatever application,” his lawyer said.
Thomas’ second application to have Judge Christie Liebenberg recused was rejected and an appeal hearing commenced today.
Deputy Prosecutor General Antonia Verhoef in opposition to the application to have the accused person’s trial separated stated that Townsend played an active part in the delay of the trial, saying he openly supported Thomas in his first recusal application, as indicated in an affidavit he made.
According to Verhoef, Townsend also supported Thomas during the psychiatric evaluations saga. Another attempt to delay the trial according the state was when Thomas requested for the criminal trial to be halted, pending the outcome of the civil matter in which he is suing the state for unlawful solitary confinement.
State resources, she says have also been wasted in the process. The state was ready to proceed with the trial since 2014.
The judge will again give ruling on the recusal appeal. Judge Liebenberg also reserved judgment on the separation of trial until October.