Susan Rohde was 'beyond the point of return' - pathologist

A second forensic pathologist, testifying for the defence in the trial of businessman Jason Rohde, said on Tuesday that he was 95% sure that Susan Rohde 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 told the Western Cape High Court.

"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.

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 had described how he grabbed his wife's body from the back of the bathroom door and placed her on the floor.

'Mark help me'

He said that he 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."

Mark Thompson, an operations manager at Lew Geffen Sotheby's International Realty, previously told the court he had rushed to the hotel room to find Jason sitting next to his wife's body on the floor.

"I was in a bit of shock and Jason looked up and said: 'Mark help me, Mark help me'," he testified at the time.

The effect of the CPR on Susan's body was brought up when defence lawyer Graham van der Spuy re-examined Loftus on Tuesday.

"You have expressed an opinion in this matter that the rib injuries, the sternum injury also, were probably occasioned in the CPR process, particularly that it was attempted by two lay people," Van der Spuy said.

Loftus agreed, saying he had looked at Susan's size and her injuries.

'Ante-mortem' bruising

He said it was very common to break a rib during CPR.

"Those injuries, the pattern of them, is for me CPR injuries."

Earlier on Tuesday, prosecutor Louis van Niekerk had asked Loftus how likely it was that the block placed under Susan's neck during the autopsy had caused a mark in that area that resembled a ligature mark.

Loftus pointed out that there had been a period of 50 hours between Susan's death and her first autopsy, time in which lividity, or the settling of blood, would be fixed.

"Fifty hours later, if you put something below the body, it is highly unlikely that you are going to disturb that lividity. That is an ante-mortem (before death) mark and not caused post-mortem by a block."

Loftus was excused from the witness stand.

Van der Spuy said he expected to call Rohde's former colleague, Brendan Miller, to give evidence on Wednesday. Miller heads up the Atlantic Seaboard for Lew Geffen Sotheby's International Realty.