Identical twins found guilty of killing 80-year-old Wellington man

2017-02-21 16:10
Identical twins Edwin and Edwill Williams were found guilty of robbing and killing an elderly Wellington man in his home. (Jenna Etheridge/News24)

Identical twins Edwin and Edwill Williams were found guilty of robbing and killing an elderly Wellington man in his home. (Jenna Etheridge/News24)

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Cape Town – Identical twins Edwin and Edwill Williams were on Tuesday found guilty of robbing and killing an elderly man in his Wellington home in 2014.

From the moment they were arrested for 80-year-old Yaseen Nichols' murder, the case presented certain challenges for investigators, prosecutors and the Western Cape High Court.

Firstly, the two denied any involvement and claimed there was a plot against them.

A psychiatric panel found them fit to stand trial and to instruct legal representatives.

They repeatedly "fired" lawyers, eventually demanding that the same legal aid lawyer represent them. This didn’t work out and they ended up defending themselves.

They chose to not give evidence or call witnesses in their defence, leading the court to rely solely on the State’s evidence.

Being identical, the 29-year-olds also shared the same DNA.

But it was the strong circumstantial evidence that led Acting Judge Janet McCurdie to conclude that the two were guilty beyond reasonable doubt.

This included the testimonies of neighbours who saw the men, and a forensic pathologist who felt only two people could have inflicted the injuries.

Nichols was found fully clothed and face down on his bed, under a duvet, on the morning of May 8, 2014.

He had been suffocated or strangled and had blunt force injuries.

'Evidence was spontaneous'

Some of the items taken from him were R217 in cash, a travel case, two cameras, a cordless telephone, two pairs of spectacles, clothing, body lotion, a SASSA card, drivers licence and passport.

After he failed to do his early morning gardening, a neighbour went over and found a broken cup and spilled coffee at the locked back door.

She later recognised the two men who jumped over the fence into an adjoining property as twins she had known since they were little.

The neighbour closest to the back door heard it open and saw a man jumping over her fence, almost bumping into her. A second man jumped over and bumped into her.

"She looked into the face of this man and saw it was the same face as the first man, and realised they were identical twins," said McCurdie in her judgment on Tuesday.

She said this neighbour's evidence was extremely important because she had not lived in Wellington long and did not know the twins.

"Her evidence was spontaneous and she did not waiver."

The pair’s DNA matched that found under Nichols' fingernails.

A forensic pathologist believed that Nichols had died a slow death.

"The bruising on the body was indicative of two persons being involved in the incident. One person would have held the person down and the second person would have conducted the manual strangulation."

Murder and robbery

The court said Nichols had had a simple lifestyle and routine after his wife’s death.

Because he was fully dressed and some of his breakfast was left on a plate in the kitchen, he was likely killed around 08:00, a similar time to when the men were seen leaving the scene.

She said the accused could not adequately explain how some of Nichols' possessions were found on them.

They could also not explain the DNA evidence or offer evidence showing they were elsewhere at the time of the crime.

The court found there was insufficient evidence to find them guilty of burglary.

They were convicted of murder and robbery with aggravating circumstances.

Dressed in jeans and matching blue and white striped shirts, they scowled as judgment was handed down.

They looked up to the public gallery before being led to the police cells.

Sentencing arguments would be heard on March 24.

Read more on:    wellington  |  crime

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