Trial Postponed in Slaying of Georgetown University Student
DAKAR, Senegal (AP) _ A judge postponed the trial of a Senegalese man accused of murdering an American Georgetown University exchange student, saying he didn’t have enough information about the case.
Papa Demba Fall, 23, is accused of murdering Stephanie Waterman, 20, of Kansas City, Mo., in her Dakar home on Feb. 16, 1985. He faces the death penalty if convicted.
Judge Moustapha Toure of the Court of Assizes said Friday the information made available to him about the case was incomplete. He postponed the trial to an undetermined time during the next judicial session later this year.
Prosecuting Attorney Guibril Camara stormed out of the courtroom in protest.
″This is an inopportune and illegal decision which reflects poorly on the Senegalese justice system,″ Camara told reporters later. ″We think we have enough information to convict. If not, that’s our problem and not the judge’s.″
Under the Senegalese penal code, the Court of Assizes judge can demand additional information if he decides pretrial investigations are incomplete, but he must do so before the trial begins.
Miss Waterman was attacked by an assailant wielding her own Swiss Army knife shortly after she returned from a tennis match. She ran outside in pursuit of the assailant but collapsed in the street due to loss of blood from stab wounds to her throat. She died soon after.
Miss Waterman was an African studies student in Georgetown’s School of Foreign Service, said Robin Payes, spokeswoman for the university in Washington, D.C.
Fall was not present in the courtroom Friday but was seen being led into a nearby room, handcuffed and flanked by armed police, shortly before the trial opened.
After a two-hour delay in starting the trial, trial lawyers and spectators were stunned to hear the judge announce his decision, which was followed by a vigorous protest by the prosecutor.
Toure was not available for comment. At the hearing, he said police had failed to provide transportation for the court to travel to the site of the crime. In addition, he said, the prosecution had failed to provide the court with eight copies of photos taken at the slaying scene.