No further expert evidence in baby murder trial

2012-05-15 22:49

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Pretoria - No further expert evidence will be presented in the trial of a Pretoria woman and her lover who are accused of murdering their baby son.

The trial of Marissa Rudman and Nolan Schoeman was postponed last month to give Rudman the opportunity to find a paediatrician to testify on her behalf.

However, counsel for Rudman informed the court on Tuesday that they could not find an expert who was willing to testify for her.

Rudman and Schoeman have both denied assaulting their 2-month-old baby boy Wade so severely that he died of his injuries at a Pretoria state hospital in 2010.

Skull started to come apart

The baby had such severe brain swelling that his skull had started to come apart. He also had two broken arms, 22 broken ribs and large visible bruises on his head and body.

The State has alleged that Rudman removed the baby from another hospital, against medical advice, a few days earlier.

The baby was being treated for broncho-pneumonia, but Rudman insisted on discharging him herself, claiming she was not satisfied with the treatment he was receiving.

The two have also pleaded not guilty to a charge of abusing their baby and another boy over a period of time.

The child earlier testified that he saw Schoeman hit the baby on the head, but Schoeman said the child was not telling the truth and must have been influenced.

Rudman denied ever seeing or suspecting that Schoeman was abusing their baby, but she testified at length about how Schoeman had abused her.

Old act

The State applied to have the charge sheet amended on Tuesday after it appeared that the child abuse charges had been brought under the old Child Care Act instead of the new Children's Act.

Prosecutor Cornelia Harmzen argued that there would not be any prejudice to the accused and that the drafting of the indictment had been a honest oversight.

Counsel for the accused opposed the application, arguing that there was a huge difference between the old and new legislation.

Karin Alheit, for Rudman, said it would amount to a substitution of charges, as child abuse was now a much more serious crime and the sanctions were much higher under the new legislation.

The old act stipulated a jail term of five years, while the new one set a penalty of between 10 and 20 years' imprisonment.

Alheit said the scope of the act had also been broadened.

Judge Cynthia Pretorius said the defence could not blame the State alone for the oversight, as no one had noticed the discrepancy or complained about it.

Pretorius said the murder charge still stood, despite the discrepancy in the charge sheet.

She said she would rule on the matter when the trial resumed, but warned counsel to be ready with final legal argument.

The trial was postponed to May 28.

- SAPA

Read more on:    marissa rudman  |  nolan schoeman  |  child abuse
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