Free State cemetery killer guilty

2012-10-30 12:38
Maartens van der Merwe (Volksblad)

Maartens van der Merwe (Volksblad)

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Virginia - The Virginia Circuit Court on Tuesday found Maartens van der Merwe guilty of killing Michael van Eck in a Welkom cemetery.

Circuit Judge Ian van der Merwe held that Van der Merwe could differentiate between right and wrong at the time of the murder. He did not suffer from any psychological illness at the time, the judge concluded.

His lawyer, Pieter Nel, entered a guilty plea on all charges and read out a statement. The 25-year-old was convicted of murder, robbery with aggravating circumstance, and dismembering the victim's body.

The judgment came after the State called a final expert witness, Dr Carla Kotze of Weskoppies Psychiatric Hospital in Pretoria, to testify.

She said Van der Merwe could understand right from wrong and there was no evidence of him being under any influence at the time of the crime.

Welkom resident Van Eck, 23, was killed and dismembered in 2011.

Van der Merwe's trial was separated from that of his co-accused Chané van Heerden, 21, in 2011. She was convicted of Van Eck's murder, declared a dangerous criminal and sentenced to a minimum of 20 years in prison in November last year.

Some of Van Eck's remains were found in a shallow grave at the Welkom cemetery, while others, including the skin from his face, were found in the couple's fridge.

The case continues.

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