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  1. #1
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    South Africa - Susan Rohde, 47, murdered, Stellenbosch, 24 July, 2016

    Estate agency boss Jason Rohde arrested over wife's death

    Jason Rohde, the CEO of Geffen International Realty Franchises, was arrested on Tuesday morning in connection with the death of his wife Susan.

    Susan's body was found in a bathroom at Spier wine resort in Stellenbosch on July 24.

    Initially it was thought she committed suicide but police spokesman Captain FC van Wyk said an inquest docket was opened and their investigation changed to murder after a post mortem was performed.

    https://www.timeslive.co.za/news/sou...r-wifes-death/

    http://ewn.co.za/2017/07/26/jason-ro...art-in-october

    http://www.news24.com/SouthAfrica/Ne...eport-20160830

  2. #2
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    Day 1

    In the Western Cape High Court where Jason Rohde is set to appear. Inspection-in-loco will take place at Spier.

    Strict rules for media to attend inspection-in-loco at Spier. Journalists not allowed to speak to guests or employees

    Jason Rohde has pleaded not guilty to murdering his wife at Spier and defeating/obstructing the ends of justice.

    The Indictment



    http://www.news24.com/SouthAfrica/Ne...tinue-20171009
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  3. #3
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    Summary of Substantial Facts



    http://www.news24.com/SouthAfrica/Ne...tinue-20171009
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  4. #4
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    The accused says the State has not provided all documents to defence. He claims it is relying on circumstantial evidence.

    Jason admits he had an extramarital affair with Jolene Alterskye. Says Susan knew Jolene would also be at Sotheby's event.

    He said that they had a fight in the hotel, which included a heated verbal exchange and a physical confrontation.

    Susan had apparently insisted on forcefully preventing him from leaving the room.

    [In loco inspection takes place at the Spier Hotel, Stellenbosch]

    Spier is very tranquil. Rooms set in small blocks. Room 221 on ground floor. Bird song and traffic the only sounds here.

    Judge Salie-Hlophe asks if there's CCTV. There is, but not outside room where Susan was found.

    Jason says his marriage fell apart as Susan became more "irrational, obsessive and angry".

    Inspection in loco to commence at 1pm

    Admissions: Jason says he was not proud of the affair. Susan found out in 2016. She was angry, resentful, desperate and sad.

    Admissions: Jason believes his wife's deterioration & inability to reason or be rational led to her 'committing suicide'.

    "Possibly, however, no one may ever know the true or her full reasons for her suicide".

    Admissions: Susan become increasingly angry at Sotheby's event at Spier. We had heated exchange & physical confrontation.

    Admissions: I never denied we fought that night. She forcefully prevented me from leaving room. Pulled and grabbed me.

    Admissions: As I tried to get Susan to back off, my arm connected. She was injured and fell. I never attacked her.

    Admissions: "I did not kill Susan and I did not stage a suicide". Court adjourns for an inspection-in-loco at Spier.

    "I did not kill Susan and I did not stage a suicide," the former CEO of Geffen International Realty Franchises said in his plea explanation.

    http://www.news24.com/SouthAfrica/Ne...tinue-20171009

  5. #5
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    He said that they had a fight in the hotel, which included a heated verbal exchange and a physical confrontation.

    Susan had apparently insisted on forcefully preventing him from leaving the room.

    [In loco inspection takes place at the Spier Hotel, Stellenbosch]

    Spier is very tranquil. Rooms set in small blocks. Room 221 on ground floor. Bird song and traffic the only sounds here.

    Judge Salie-Hlophe asks if there's CCTV. There is, but not outside room where Susan was found.



    http://www.news24.com/SouthAfrica/Ne...tinue-20171009

    And now for a very interesting bit of info. She married the Western Cape Judge President John Hlophe in April 2015. Chief Justice (ConCourt) Mogoeng Mogoeng was the main speaker at the reception.



    https://lh3.googleusercontent.com/i-WolS1dvM3FIfTpe2wZ1OUBbMbv1GG2b56TZ9362WzxaUW-7xhx6CRxqsW2IUZOgBAkNfTUTdSoOE4Laks_

    Conversation over the dinner table must be fascinating.
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  6. #6
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    Day 2 – 10 October

    Day 2 of trial and we have bathroom door in court. Handyman who opened it set to testify.

    1st witness to testify is Spier handyman Desmond Daniels, who used screwdriver to unlock door.

    Prosecutor says they need to finalise a bundle of photos taken at Spier inspection-in-loco yesterday.

    The State has a total of 79 witnesses.

    Defence complained yesterday that the State did not hand over crucial documents it needs to prepare.

    State to respond shortly, court adjourns for 5 minutes.

    State confirms investigation is complete. But could have further investigation depending on trial or plea explanation.

    The defence has requested working notes from experts, including blood analyst, of which some have been provided.

    State: Defence needs working notes of blood analyst specialist, fingerprint expert. Plus statements re Susan's items.

    Since the time the case was transferred in June, certain documents remain outstanding, says Advocate Pete Mihalik.

    State went through list of 17 witnesses & basic explanation of evidence they would present. I will give overview later.

    http://www.news24.com/SouthAfrica/Ne...court-20171010

  7. #7
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    https://www.timeslive.co.za/news/sou...s-odd-witness/

    First State witness Mark Thompson takes the stand, says he does not mind being recorded.

    State calls first witness, Mark Thompson. He knew Rohde for 7 years. Worked in same Sotheby's office for 3 years.

    Thompson: I had breakfast at Sotheby conference at Spier on 24 July 2016. Rohde was to address delegates that day.

    Thompson was part of Sotheby's annual conference which was during the time of Susan's death.

    Thompson: I heard there was trouble in hotel room. I went there and staff told me white woman tried to hang herself.

    Thompson: I walked into bathroom and saw Susanís body on floor & Jason sitting next to her. He repeated 'Mark help me'.

    Thompson: I said donít worry Jason, we will get her back. It was clear she was dead. She was cold, blue lips.

    Thompson: I did CPR for 30-45 minutes. Jason helped once and sat down again. He was quiet. Didn't interact with her.

    Thompson was unsettled as he took in scene. Discomfort because Susan was naked, had massive bruise on thigh.

    Thompson was stumped because cord on back of door wasn't taut and loop was small. Says Susan was fairly tall.

    Thompson: position of her stool, urine didn't add up.
    Defence warns that his evidence sounds like that of expert.

    Thompson said he overheard Jason tell cop that he and Susan had fight. She went into bathroom "in a huff". He slept.

    Thompson also heard Jason tell Susan's father that she was running and tripped. And then said "more like she slipped".

    Thompson is being taken through bundle of photos from crime scene. Short adjournment.

    http://www.news24.com/SouthAfrica/Ne...court-20171010

  8. #8
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    Summary of the Stateís witnesses.

    [Youíll be pleased to learn that both Sharlene Otto (DNA analyst) and Capt. Joubert (bloodstain pattern expert), both excellent witnesses from the van Breda trial, are on the list]



    Thompson cannot explain why Susan is lying on a white robe in a picture taken at the crime scene.

    Thompson: Jason SMSed me on July 26 2016 to contact IO. I had to go to Stellenbosch SAPS for statement, fingerprints.

    Thompson: Jason & I chatted after about getting earlier flights to JHB. I later sent 2 Whatsapps asking if J was ok.

    Thompson: I never got response to my Whatsapps. I went to Susan's funeral. Didn't chat to him further.

    The State concludes Thompson's testimony.

    http://www.news24.com/SouthAfrica/Ne...court-20171010
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  9. #9
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    Now cross-exam
    Thompson tells defence lawyer Peter Mihalik he learnt basic CPR but Susan was first recipient. Also 1st 'suicide scene'

    Thompson: Can't recall everything at scene but her nakedness struck me. Can't recall seeing chain or bracelet on her.

    Thompson is certain that Jason kept repeating "Help me Mark" like a mantra in the bathroom.

    Thompson concedes he's not a psychologist. He has life experience. Understands how people react in general situations.

    Thompson says he is not a stool expert or other expert. Cannot say how bruise got onto her thigh.

    Thompson: Yael Geffen arrived & stood at bathroom door. Yelled "Oh my f*#%". Not finding it useful, he gave her a task.

    Context: Yael Geffen is the daughter of property mogul Lew Geffen.

    Thompson: Her whole neck area was fairly bruised. Line around her neck is more clearly defined in photo than he recalls.

    Peter Mihalik says Jason was ostracised and labelled a killer in newspaper. Thompson says he didn't shun Jason.

    Thompson: Jason never thanked me. We shared intimate moment, I held his hand in ambulance. Thought it appropriate.

    Thompson cannot not recall the chain around Susan's neck which is evident in the photograph taken at the scene.

    Mihalik questions this.

    We adjourn for lunch.

    Court back in session. Rohde's colleague Mark Thompson still being cross-examined on giving CPR to Susan in bathroom.

    Mihalik: Did Jason not say what about my babies, she's mother of my babies?
    Thompson: Not in bathroom. In ambulance yes.

    Defence will argue that Thompson's testimony can't be relied upon because he failed to see certain things.

    Defence will also argue Thompson's opinions have no value because he is not pathologist, psychologist or other expert.

    [ Bet heís not a gynaecologist either (joke from witness in the van Breda trial)]

    Thompson disagrees, saying he is a human being with life experience who helped a colleague and formed opinions.

    [NB: Lay witnesses are not allowed to give opinions, only expert witnesses]

    Thompson also disagrees his memory has faded with time. Says he gave statement few days after Susan died.

    Thompson excused from stand. Sighs deeply and smiles. Trial postponed until tomorrow (Wednesday) morning.

    http://www.news24.com/SouthAfrica/Ne...court-20171010

  10. #10
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    Day 3

    State and defence agreed to relax his bail conditions so he only reports to police station once a week.

    Postponement requested.

    Postponement until tomorrow (Thursday) granted by judge.

    State, defence to use today to sort out admin issues, sequence of 200 photos. Mihalik says this will expedite trial.

    [Fantastic news … a defence barrister who is keen to expedite the trial!]

    Judge Salie-Hlophe agrees to postpone the trial until tomorrow (Thursday) morning.

    http://www.news24.com/SouthAfrica/Ne...trial-20171011


  11. #11
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    Day 4

    [This next witness is superb]

    Khan: https://images.enca.com/encadrupal/s...han_121017.JPG

    State's second witness, forensic pathologist Dr Akmal Coetzee-Khan, is waiting to testify.

    State hands up bundles with scene photos + Dr Akmal Coetzee-Khan's CV notes, incident scene report, post-mortem report.

    Some of the photos are from post-mortem exam. Dr Coetzee-Khan starts evidence-in-chief by going through his CV.

    Dr Coetzee-Khan is specialist forensic pathologist. Currently based in Vredendal forensic laboratory, + Winelands region.

    Coetzee-Khan, who is also a qualified obstetrician and gynaecologist, has extensive CV with various courses, seminars.

    Coetzee-Khan has done around 2900 post-mortems for homicide, suicide, sudden death, accidental death, complex death.

    The State is expected to present a sequence of photographs to court which had been sequenced beforehand.

    Coetzee-Khan done +-100 suicide hanging cases, 12 ligature strangulation homicide, 19 manual strangulation, 8 suffocation

    Coetzee-Khan also been asked by police to help with high-profile cases with high media interest or brutal mass killing.

    Coetzee-Khan wrote up a report after attending scene at Spier Hotel. SAPS was unclear whether it was suicide or homicide.

    "Woman allegedly argued with her husband. She locked herself in bathroom. Husband found her hanging by hook".

    This was previously mentioned in Jason Rohde's plea agreement, where he denied staging a suicide.

    Khan was told over the phone that bathroom door was "forcefully opened", body taken down and CPR done.

    The State's first witness, Mark Thompson, previously told the court that he had performed CPR on Susan Rohde, after he saw her body lying on the bathroom floor and Rohde sitting next to her.

    Paramedics declared Susan Rohde dead at 09:08 on 24 July 2016. First responders found blood stains suspicious.

    http://www.news24.com/SouthAfrica/Ne...trial-20171012
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  12. #12
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    Khan: Blood was found on floor of hotel room, bedsheet, pillow and duvet. I arrived 12:45. Husband was not present.

    Khan: Because Jason Rohde was not present at crime scene, I could not immediately confirm the history provided to me.

    Lights dimmed to look at crime scene photos. Jason Rohde walks out of dock and to a seat away from projection wall.

    Jason Rohde faces the laptop with photos but has turned his seat away from the big projection wall.

    First photos show Spier hotel room in morning light with yellow police tape in front.

    Media not allowed to share photos.

    Khan: As I walked in, I noticed faeces stain marks on the tile with smell as I entered the room.

    Photo shows Susan lying naked on her back with a white gown over top half. Khan says no ligature present on body.

    While graphic photo is shown, Jason looks away, blinks a lot and twitches. Listens as Khan says blood found on feet.

    Khan: "I noticed there was still make-up on her face. I had to examine body externally for injuries & temp readings".

    There was a ligature imprint on front and side of her neck.

    Khan: There were linear + curvilinear scratch marks to right lower jaw and left side of neck. Possible fingernail marks.

    Khan: I also noted a haematoma to the left eyelid and abrasion to corner of the same eyelid. Blunt force trauma.

    Khan: Usually if you have trauma in form of fist or punch, sometimes you'd get an abrasion from a ring on the finger.
    [Rohde wears a wedding ring]

    Khan: Not usually what you would find in hanging or suicide case. Indicates kind of physical altercation/confrontation.

    http://www.news24.com/SouthAfrica/Ne...trial-20171012

  13. #13
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    Khan: Blood splatter on right eyelid. Bruising on knee & lower leg. Large "greenish" bruise to right upper leg & thigh.

    Khan: Different ages of injuries worried me with possible battered woman syndrome coming to mind.

    "Battered woman syndrome", much like post-traumatic stress disorder, is a more subtle sign of an abusive relationship.

    Khan: No injuries to genitalia. Lighting was poor and I needed further exam at the mortuary.

    Khan: Abrasions on toes of both feet and surrounding blood staining of feet. Bruising, abrasions on knuckles and wrist.

    State's first witness and ex-colleague of Jason, Mark Thompson, is here today. Jason looks down, kneads his hands.

    Khan: When I saw these bruises on hands, I considered these as defence injuries with an altercation.

    Khan: I covered her hands with bags to protect any trace evidence that I could scrape later.

    Khan found it strange that no faeces on bathroom door. Lividity not consistent with death in upright position.

    Thompson also testified that he could not understand how the position of her body - head furthest from the door and her feet under the basin Ė correlated with her hanging on the door.

    Khan: Post-mortem lividity (stagnant blood) indicated death in a supine and lying position. Bathroom window was closed.

    Khan: Death in hanging is usually upright and would usually see lividity on lower limbs + hands, forearms, maybe neck.

    Khan: No hanging pattern like that here. I therefore couldn't say the person died in an upright or vertical position.

    Khan: The pattern of lividity in this case shows the person died in a lying position on their back.

    Khan: Lividity starts about 30min after death. Takes +- 3hrs to establish completely. Helps to estimate time of death.

    For time of death, Khan looked at cooling of body, changes of rigor mortis and lividity.

    Khan: This gave me estimated time of death of 7hr and 30min, from when I arrived at 13:00.

    Khan: Death thus took place around 05:40 on 24 July 2016. My estimate would apply for 95% of cases.

    Khan: A deviation of +-2.8hrs is for unknown factors: initial body temperature, uncertainty of whether body moved or not.

    http://www.news24.com/SouthAfrica/Ne...trial-20171012

  14. #14
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    Khan: Noted red blood staining on left side of bed, duvet, sheet, pillow on floor. Found this very odd.

    Khan found blood stains "very odd" and indicative of possible altercation scene. Also saw gown belt left behind on bed.

    Bedroom photo shows it was messy. A purple open luggage case was on floor, the bed was unmade.

    Khan: Bedroom door was locked. I noted slot that allowed door to be opened from outside should someone get stuck.

    Khan: I was not happy to call this a suicide. I wanted SAPS to investigate a possible homicide.

    Khan wanted hooks on bathroom door to be tested for if it could support Susan's 52kg weight.

    Khan: Because of injuries to Susan's hand and eye, I wanted Jason to be examined by doctor for injuries.

    Judge Salie-Hlophe asks if gown covered Susan's breasts. Khan says her breasts were covered. Also red throw over body.

    Photos will now be shown of the post-mortem exam, which took place on July 26, 2016, two days after death.

    The post-mortem performed on Susan Rohde had previously revealed that foul play might have been involved - as signs of smothering and asphyxia had been noted.

    Prosecutor Carine Teunissen previously told the court that, according to two State pathologists, it appeared the cord found around her neck was applied after her death.

    Khan goes through chief findings. Ligature imprint "most likely a post -mortem" mark.

    Khan: Usually with electric cord around neck in hanging, we get friction abrasion rub against skin. Did not see that.

    Khan: During hanging, you would expect cord to slide. Not seeing any of that here.

    Khan: In hanging, you'd expect mark to slope upwards to suspension point. This was horizontal, sloped slightly on right.

    Khan: In 80% of hanging cases, ligature mark is usually high up, above Adam's apple.

    http://www.news24.com/SouthAfrica/Ne...trial-20171012

  15. #15
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    Post mortem report.
    [Please note that I havenít included p.1 as itís only the Affidavit attaching pp. 2, 3 and 4]


    http://www.news24.com/SouthAfrica/Ne...trial-20171012
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