13 September 2017

Namibia: Schiefer Gets Six Years Off Sentence

FORTY-TWO years in prison, instead of 48.

This is the effect of the success that Romeo Schiefer, convicted of the murder of his parents, had with an appeal against his sentence yesterday.

Schiefer (28) was present in the Supreme Court in Windhoek to hear appeal judge Elton Hoff read out the end of the judgement in which three judges of Namibia's top court ruled in favour of his appeal against the sentence that he received on two counts of murder almost four years ago.

He was sentenced to 28 years' imprisonment on each of the two charges of murder, with eight years of the one sentence ordered to run concurrently with the other sentence, at the end of his trial in the Windhoek High Court in October 2013.

In the Supreme Court's judgement yesterday, the two prison terms of 28 years each were confirmed, but it was ordered that 14 years of the one sentence should run concurrently with the other prison term, leaving Schiefer with an effective jail term of 42 years, instead of 48.

Schiefer has been in jail for the past nine years and eight months.

He was 18 when, two months before his 19th birthday, he was arrested in connection with the murder of his parents, Frans and Francina Schiefer, who were killed in their house in Khomasdal, Windhoek, during the evening of 18 January 2008. They were both 50 years old when they were killed.

During his trial, Schiefer denied that he killed his parents, but a damning confession that he made to a senior police officer the day after the double murder counted heavily against him and judge Naomi Shivute convicted him in September 2013.

Judge Hoff, who wrote the Supreme Court's decision on Schiefer's appeal, quoted the confession in full in his judgement.

In the confession, Schiefer said he was "triggered" and "decided that this is enough" when his mother, apparently angry about his lack of academic success, swore at him and accused him of not wanting to learn, wasting her money and being a layabout.

He said he took a knife from a drawer and attacked his mother with it, went to his father's bedroom, where he took a pistol from a wardrobe and shot his father in the head where he lay on his bed, and after that also shot his mother repeatedly and stabbed her again.

He then put on different clothes and went out with a friend, until one of his brothers contacted him by phone to summon him home after midnight, Schiefer said.

Schiefer did not testify in mitigation of sentence after he was convicted. Judge Shivute was correct to conclude that he did not show any remorse about the killing of his parents, judge Hoff commented.

The fact that Schiefer was a first-time offender, his youthfulness, and the period of more than six years that he spent in custody before he was sentenced were mentioned by judge Shivute as mitigating factors in his case, judge Hoff noted. He added that additional factors to be considered were that the murders were committed spontaneously, without any premeditation, and that there was no evidence that Schiefer had a history of aggressive or violent behaviour or was inherently wicked.

If he had been the trial judge, judge Hoff said, he would have ordered that a longer portion of the one prison term should run together with the other sentence.

Deputy chief justice Petrus Damaseb and appeal judge Dave Smuts agreed with the appeal judgement.

Defence lawyer Winnie Christians represented Schiefer during his trial and in his appeal. Deputy prosecutor general Antonia Verhoef represented the state when oral arguments were heard in June last year.

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