Bloody print nailed suspect

2008-03-07 00:00

The man charged with the murder of Wembley mother Michelle Murison (31) in her “well secured” home on February 6, allegedly left behind a vital clue for police — a fingerprint in blood on a DVD in the main bedroom.

This evidence was given before magistrate Paul van Dongen yesterday, by Inspector Swami Pillay of the Organised Crime Unit, who is opposing the granting of bail to Martin Zondi (26) of Sweetwaters.

Zondi was employed at the time by Murison’s common-law husband Kevin Liddell’s Big Beat Productions sound company.

Pillay testified that the kitchen and laundry of the couple’s home in Armstrong Drive bore evidence of a violent struggle between Murison and her killer.

Murison’s body was found in the kitchen by a security officer sent to check on her. Her baby daughter was found crawling in her slain mother’s blood.

Pillay said investigators at the scene could see that Murison suffered a number of stab wounds, and a deep gash above her left ear. Her wristwatch lay near her body. There were defensive stab wounds on both her hands.

He said a postmortem established that Murison was stabbed 22 times and that the injury to her head was caused by a blunt object.

On searching the yard, police recovered four bloodied instruments — two knives, a screwdriver and a hammer. The weapons were hidden in shrubs situated between the house and an office on the premises.

Pillay said it appeared the killer was “looking for something”. He said drawers in the baby’s room had been pulled out, built-in cupboards in the passage appeared to have been searched and in the main bedroom a lot of cupboards were opened and CDs and DVDs appeared to have been tampered with.

One of the DVDs bore a fingerprint in blood, which experts have since linked to Zondi, he said.

Blood was found on the doors and drawers.

“That must have gotten there from someone who was soaked in blood or whose hands were bloody.”

Pillay said he found a wet facecloth in the bathroom and when he lifted it up it was soaked in blood.

He said a safe in the main bedroom was not tampered with. He was later told by Liddell the key was kept in a concealed compartment only he and Murison knew of.

Pillay said Murison’s car was stolen by the killer in order to get away from the scene. It was found in a plantation about six kilometres away at about 6.25 pm on the evening in question, before Murison’s body had even been discovered.

Pillay said Zondi was supposed to have accompanied Liddell and other employees to organise a function at the casino that evening, but complained of a headache. Liddell gave instructions for Zondi to be given a lift to town, and he was dropped off in the city at about 5.10 pm.

This pointed to the murder having been premeditated, said Pillay.

He said Zondi admitted to police during an interview that he returned to the house to speak to Murison about money that Liddell allegedly owed him and that Murison let him in.

He said access to the property is via an electronically controlled gate and intercom. A camera allows the occupants of the house to see who is at the gate.

Pillay said Liddell and his other employees have disputed that Zondi was owed money, and said his investigations have revealed that Zondi was in financial difficulty and had borrowed money from others.

Zondi also has a three-month-old baby in Port Shepstone and in terms of Zulu custom, owes the mother’s family two cows and a sum of money.

Pillay said he accompanied Zondi to his home in Sweetwaters where he found a pair of white shoes, both of which had bloodstains on them.

Zondi’s sister told Pillay her brother asked her to burn his shirt and pants, which were soaked in blood, and that she did so. She said that Zondi explained the blood by saying he’d had a fight with another man.

Pillay said he believes Zondi will be a flight risk if given bail. He also knows the identities and addresses of all state witnesses.

Throughout the proceedings, Zondi sat impassively in the dock, wearing a black T-shirt and beige trousers. He occasionally wiped his hand over his face.

The bail application is expected to continue on March 14.

ingrido@witness.co.za

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