South African man to face US jury for double murder
A South African, who reportedly confessed to four murders in the United States, will stand trial for two of those murders in July.
An official from the Quay County court house in the town of Tucumcari in the US state of New Mexico confirmed that Muziwokuthula “Muzi” Madondo would stand trial before a jury on July 29.
The trial is scheduled to last seven days.
Madondo has pleaded not guilty to the murders of father and son Bobby Gonzales and Gabriel Baca. Madondo allegedly shot the men in a motel in Tucumcari before fleeing to Texas, where he was arrested.
However, the scheduled trial could still be affected by a ruling on a motion to suppress evidence brought by Madondo's lawyer Roger Bargas last year.
On September 17, the Quay County Court heard argument about why a jury should not hear the statements Madondo made to the police after his arrest.
The judge who heard the argument, has according to the Quay County court official, still to rule on Bargas' application.
Last year Bargas told Sapa: “We are alleging statements made (by Madondo) were taken illegally and coerced (by the police). He talked to the police for six to eight hours.”
Bargas said that the conversations took place even though Madondo had sought a lawyer.
He said at the time that police had failed to immediately contact South African consular officials, who would have advised Madondo about his rights and about how the US legal system worked.
“With regard to the search warrant on the vehicle in Texas, we are alleging the search was illegal,” said Bargas.
Should the motions succeed, a jury will not get to hear what Madondo told the police about the murders of Gonzales and Baca.
All forensic evidence obtained from Madondo’s van will also not be presented to any potential jury.
Bargas is representing Madondo only in connection with the Gonzales and Baca murders.
He is not representing him in connection with murders he allegedly committed earlier in Ohio.
Madondo allegedly confessed to the murder of FirstMerit Bank executive Jacquelyn Hilder, 60, who was shot dead in her home in Akron, Ohio, on February 17.
Two days later, about 300km away, the bullet-riddled body of Maritzburg College old boy Zenzele Mdadane, 25, was found in the woods in Butler Township, Ohio.
Madondo also allegedly confessed to this killing.
Madondo, 34, was arrested on March 28, 2011 in Houston, Texas.
Originally from Richmond, near Pietermaritzburg, he emigrated to the US in 2008 to study theology.
New Mexico does not have the death penalty, but if Madondo is convicted for the two murders in Ohio, he could face the death penalty.
In May last year, the Sunday Times quoted Akron police department spokesman Michael Schaeffer as saying that he wanted to be tried in Ohio.