The fact that businessman Jason Rohde could so easily lie about his affair meant that he could do the same in court about how his wife, Susan Rohde, died, the State said on Tuesday.
During closing arguments, prosecutor Louis van Niekerk told the Western Cape High Court that it should be cautious in accepting Jason’s version of how he found his wife’s body in a hotel room in 2016, over the version of hotel maintenance worker Desmond Daniels.
He said that Daniels was just doing his job in opening the locked bathroom door, while Jason was accused of his wife’s murder.
Jason had also openly admitted during testimony about his affair with colleague Jolene Alterskye that he was capable of ongoing deception and lies, Van Niekerk said.
“He is in a habit to lie and tone down things and the court must certainly take this into account when weighing up the versions of the accused and Desmond Daniels’.”
When Van Niekerk accused Jason of lying during his testimony, Jason had told him: “I’ve admitted that I didn’t tell the truth about my adultery, but as I’ve also said before being an adulterer doesn’t make you a murderer, sir.”
He has pleaded not guilty to killing his wife and staging her suicide.
The defence maintains that Susan used a ligature to end her life or had a failed parasuicide attempt.
Van Niekerk, however, sketched a scenario on Tuesday where Jason “snapped” and killed his wife to silence her.
He said Jason panicked and could not hang his wife completely because of her weight so he placed a single cord around her neck and she was partially suspended.
This tied in with the evidence of Daniels, he said, who testified that he found Susan in that position on the floor.
“After he came in and left, Jason panicked further… and thought he must use the cord in a different fashion and that is why we found both strings hanging.”
He told Judge Gayaat Salie-Hlophe that Jason still could not explain material differences between his and Daniels’ versions, such as: Susan being completely naked; her gown being inside out; how he held her; how tight the noose/knot was; and whether the cord was a single or double strand.
Next in the prosecutor’s sights was Dr Reggie Perumal, the defence’s forensic pathologist who did a second autopsy days after the first one by State pathologist Dr Akmal Coetzee-Khan.
He said Perumal’s observations should be within the context of the pathologist receiving a body which had been distorted by the first autopsy and had stitches in the neck area.
Weight should be added to Coetzee-Khan’s findings on the thyroid cartilage in that area, he said.
“Dr Khan was there first-hand and there was no evidence of an incision. He observed a fracture. He was there and it was fresh. Not much pressure is needed to smother a person with a pillow.”
The State believed the testimony of the defence’s second forensic pathologist, Dr Izak Loftus, should also be treated with caution as he worked from photographs of the body only.
“I would submit, with greatest respect, he is biased towards the accused’s version”, Van Niekerk said.
Van Niekerk also argued that it was inconceivable that Susan could have sustained all her abrasions and injuries from a simple fall, as stated by her husband.
Coming to the end of his argument, he said the reason why there were differences in the pathologists’ testimonies was because the suicide was staged.
“All of the evidence together points to the fact that she did not hang herself, she was placed there”.
Jason’s lawyer Graham van der Spuy will submit his closing argument on Wednesday.[Source: News24]