Rohde trial: Defence closes its case
The defence team for property mogul Jason Rohde closed its case in the Western Cape High Court on Monday, opening up the possibility that the trial could be finalised by the end of the year.
"In the circumstances, I have decided not to call any further witnesses and I close the case of the defence," said Rohde's lawyer Graham van der Spuy.
Prosecutor Louis van Niekerk said the parties had discussed timelines in chambers and had agreed that they would be ready to give closing arguments on November 6.
Judge Gayaat Salie-Hlophe said she was satisfied with this plan.
Rohde, dressed in a suit, stood up as she addressed him.
"Mr Rohde, we have come to the end of this trial... I am sure your counsel has explained what that entails. Your bail conditions are extended."
95% sure of suicide
Rohde pleaded not guilty to killing his wife and to staging her suicide at the Spier Hotel on July 24, 2016.
During his testimony, Rohde described how he grabbed his wife's body from the back of the bathroom door and placed her on the floor.
He said that he had immediately started chest compressions and mouth-to-mouth resuscitation – procedures he had only seen in movies.
"I thought she was still alive because there was a lot of spit coming out of her mouth. She was still warm. As warm as I was."
A second forensic pathologist testifying for the defence testified last week that he was 95% sure that Susan had committed suicide.
"I believe that, after taking everything into account, beyond reasonable doubt, the deceased on that morning hanged herself in the bathroom," Dr Izak Loftus had said at the time.
'Beyond the point of return'
"She didn't die instantaneously. She was rescued or taken off from the ligature and she was unsuccessfully resuscitated."
He believed that, like many other cases where CPR was unsuccessful, Susan had been "beyond the point of return" in the dying process.
Van Niekerk had put it to Loftus that he had failed to take all the evidence into account, specifically the possibility that the death was staged, and that Susan had not committed suicide.
Loftus disagreed and said he had seen signs that were consistent with a ligature being applied to her neck while she was still alive.
Defence pathologist Dr Reggie Perumal, who conducted a second autopsy on Susan, had testified that suicide by hanging was the most probable cause, but he could not exclude other possibilities, such as manual strangulation.
He also said it was possible that faecal marks next to her body and outside the hotel bathroom door could possibly be as a result of her being dragged after she had died and soiled herself.
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