Crime Library: Criminal Minds and Methods

'I Don't Want to Die'

Judgment

Washing line & Knife, evidence
Washing line & Knife, evidence
 

Thursday, March 11, 2004. Justice Nathan Erasmus found Adam Woest and Trevor Theys guilty on all charges. He quoted from the song playing in the background of the police video, pointing to the irony of the lyrics: Tell it like it is, Dont be ashamed, let your conscience be your guide ... Life is too short to have sorrow, You may be here today and gone tomorrow. The judge noted that the defendants had taken firearms, a knife, washing line, duct tape, petrol, balaclavas and surgical gloves with them to the scene. He remained unconvinced that robbery had been the sole motive, but instead concluded that Woest and Theys had gone to Sizzlers with the intent to kill. Throughout the judgment, which lasted almost an hour, Woest and Theys watched the judge without expression.

On Monday the court heard aggravating and mitigating testimony and arguments. Fay Berghaus, Gregorys mother, talked about her son and then turned to Woest and Theys, looked straight at them and said that she would never forgive them. She also read from a letter, quoted in the Cape Argus of March 16, 2004, Gregorys 9-year-old nephew had written to his uncle: I am crying here. Why cant you speak to me? I am very scared.

Harriet Beyers described her brother, Theys, as helpful and loving, someone who didnt like people fighting in the presence of children. She told the court, quoted in the Cape Argus of March 16, 2004, that her brother frequently said that life is short, God put us on earth for a reason, love one another and try not to have enemies. Theys shed a single tear during her testimony.

A letter, which Theys had written to his brother, was read. In it he wrote that he needed his family to forgive him, as I forgave you, according to Die Burger. He also implored them to give yourselves to God and ask forgiveness, repent and do whats right, go to church and pray in the morning and evening.

Woest had written a letter to the judge, which was read in court. Excerpts printed in Die Burger of March 16, 2004, read as follows:

Your Honor

I would like to start by saying that I am sorry for what I have done. I regret that I allowed myself to be influenced by another person, because what I did will always be with me, every day I relive that fateful night and I wish that I could turn back the clock.

And:

I am now at the mercy of the court with regard to my life here on earth. I pray that God may guide you in your decision.

No words can take away the pain I have caused and again I say I am sorry, knowing words can never be enough to express my remorse.

Yours in Christ

Adam Roy Woest

It is remarkable how frequently killers discover God once they are caught and faced with justice. If only they could make this discovery sooner.

Justice Nathan Erasmus pronounced sentence that same afternoon. Court Two had already been filled beyond capacity half an hour previously. Adam Woest and Trevor Theys each faced nine terms of life imprisonment, plus 20 years for the attempted murder of Quinton Taylor, 15 years for armed robbery, three years for the illegal possession of firearms and two years for the illegal possession of ammunition. Theys received an additional five years for the theft of his brothers gun, to be served concurrently with the other two firearms-related sentences.

Judge Erasmus told Woest and Theys that they should be permanently removed from society. You not only intended to kill but intended to humiliate your victims, he was quoted as saying in the Cape Times of March 17, 2004. He characterized their crime as one of utter callousness. Their expressions of remorse did not appear convincing, but rather based on self-pity. Die Burger of the same date quoted the judge as saying that it was time that the interests of the victims carried more weight. He wanted his sentencing remarks to be placed in the prison files, stating that he did not feel parole should ever be an option.

During the entire time, Woest stared at the judge with his black eyes. When court was adjourned, Theys turned around to be handcuffed, but Woest continued to bore into the judges back as he left the room.

The crowd was of good cheer. About 300 people waited outside the Cape High Court and greeted Quinton Taylorwho threw his arms into the airwith a standing ovation. Strangers hugged the victims loved ones. Im happy, Quinton said in a March 16, 2004, article on Independent On-Line. Justice was done. Now I can move on.

The Anatomy of Motive
The Anatomy of Motive
Joan Versfeld, Aubrey Otgaars mother, remained sad. Although she was satisfied that justice had been done, her son was still gone. It feels as if one of my limbs has been torn off, she said in Die Burger of March 17, 2004. "Im not rejoicing today.

The crowd, however, was inspired. As Quinton folded Joan in his arms, they exclaimed that he was now her son.

More than an hour later, about 100 people still remained at the gate where the prisoners leave the court in police bakkies (which are pickup trucks with enforced canopies on the back). Woest was finally brought out alone. Members of the crowd ran after the bakkie and beat the sides with their fists. Theys was brought out later, and taken away with other prisoners.

When all was said and done, perhaps the most thought-provoking quote, in the Cape Argus of March 17, 2004, came from Aubrey Otgaars 17-year-old niece, Lauren Cunningham: [The families of the killers] are victims just like us, but they arent being allowed to grieve ... they are suffering too, theyre feeling what were feeling but they arent able to show it.

Crimes of violence tend to cause huge ripplestouching not only the victim and the offender, but loved ones on both sides.

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