Prayers and sexual abuse claims in SA man's murder confession

By Drum Digital
18 October 2014

A South African man accused of murdering four people in the United States prayed with his interrogators before he told them that he was sexually abused as a child and allegedly confessed to murders.

It has also emerged from papers submitted to the Supreme Court of New Mexico earlier this week that Muziwokuthula Madondo claimed that one of his alleged victims -- Maritzburg College old boy Zenzele Mdadane -- was part of a gang that sexually assaulted him.

Madondo is accused of shooting dead father and son Bobby Gonzales (57) and Gabriel Baca (37) in a hotel in Tucumcari, New Mexico, before fleeing to Texas in March 2011.

His videotaped confession to police is the subject of a court battle over whether a jury should hear it when he does ultimately stand trial in 2015 for the Tucumcari murders.

The papers, called a "brief-in-chief", are the first salvo by the New Mexico attorney general in a bid to overturn a ruling by Judge Albert J Mitchell suppressing Madondo's confessions following his arrest on March 27 2011 in the town of Conroe, near Houston, Texas.

Last year Mitchell found that Madondo's state and federal rights were violated after his requests for an attorney, as well as his request not to speak to the police, had been ignored.

Police interviewed Madondo on three consecutive days starting with the day of his arrest, and each day he told them more until he allegedly confessed to the murders of the four people.

The argument in the Supreme Court of New Mexico will focus on whether he had in fact given up his rights to silence and his right to have an attorney present after he had initially insisted on them on March 27.

According to the brief-in-chief, a copy of which is in Sapa's possession, he consented to a search of his hotel room, but not to one of his van.

The next day on March 28, New Mexico State police officers Josh Armijo and Matt Broom started interviewing him.

Madondo is quoted as telling the officers "I would like a lawyer please" and a little while later tells Armijo "I don't have anything to say."

But after that he started talking to the officers without specifically mentioning the murders of Baca and Gonzales.

"Everything points to me right now... I'm sure you guys think, 'Oh, this is the easiest case I have ever dealt with'."

At some stage Broom brings out Madondo's bible that was retrieved from his van and refers to it as "the truth".

After further discussions, Madondo is quoted as saying: "I'm praying, but I need somebody to talk to... so that the truth be out there, whatever happens, man."

When the officers question him again if he wants to tell the truth and if he understands his rights, he said: "I understand I have a right not to talk, but I have decided to talk now."

Then without providing details, the brief-in-chief explains that Madondo told the two officers how he was framed for the murders and tricked into taking possession of the weapons.

It detailed how Armijo questions discrepancies in Madondo's story.

Later Texas Ranger Steven Rayburn resumed interviewing Madondo.

Rayburn and Madondo discussed sin, making mistakes, God and heaven, with Rayburn ultimately asking Madondo" "What if you did these things and you insisted you did not?"

Madondo replied: "That would be bad. God won't like that."

After encouraging Madondo "to get this burden off" the two men prayed together.

Rayburn questioned whether Baca and Gonzales did "something sexual in nature" to Madondo.

Madondo started crying and told Broom and Rayburn that: "A Christian doesn't kill, but in my position... Jesus would have killed in my position."

The next day on March 29, 2011, Rayburn asked Madondo about "tough spots" that Madondo did not want his dad to know about.

It was then that Madondo told the officers that he was sexually abused as a child. The brief-in-chief provides no details of what Madondo told officers, except that Rayburn told Madondo the abuse was not his fault.

"Yeah, but what happened after is my fault," Madondo allegedly replied.

It is at this stage that Madondo then revealed that a friend named "Zen" [Mdadane] and some other men attacked him and sexually assaulted him in New Jersey.

According to the brief-in-chief Madondo described how he purchased a gun, tracked Mdadane down, before luring him to Ohio, and then killed him.

He also described going to FirstMerit Bank executive Jacquelyn Hilder's home in Akron, Ohio where he planned to rob her. When she screamed, Madondo allegedly killed her.

It was then that Madondo allegedly described how he had travelled to Tucumcari and the events that led to the death of Baca and Gonzales.

The precise details of the murders are not detailed in the brief-in-chief.

Madondo's lawyer Roger Bargas has 120 days to submit an answering brief. The attorney general then has another 20 days to submit a responding brief.

Hilder was shot dead on February 17 2011 and two days later the bullet-riddled body of Mdadane (25) was found in the woods in Butler Township, Ohio. Madondo has yet to appear in an Ohio for those murders, or plead to them.

Originally from Richmond, near Pietermaritzburg, Madondo emigrated to the US in 2008 to study theology.

New Mexico does not have the death penalty, but if convicted of the two Ohio murders, he could face the death penalty in that state.

At the time of his arrest it was reported that Madondo had claimed he wanted the death penalty.

Source : Sapa

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