State wants max sentence for baby killers

2013-02-20 22:14
Marissa Rudman (Picture: Beeld)

Marissa Rudman (Picture: Beeld)

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Pretoria - A couple convicted of murdering their 2-month-old baby deserve maximum sentences, the State argued in the North Gauteng High Court in Pretoria on Wednesday.

Prosecutor Cornelia Harmzen said it "might be too lenient" to sentence people convicted of murdering a baby to 15 years' imprisonment.

She said the court had the discretion to sentence Marissa Rudman and Nolan Schoeman to life imprisonment for murdering their son Wade in April 2009.

Judge Cynthia Pretorius said the baby had "suffered tremendously" in the last two weeks of his life.

"Nobody takes responsibility for that. Up to now no one has told the court what happened," she said.

Harmzen said the difficult childhoods and abuse endured by both accused might be a mitigating factor, but were not substantial or compelling enough to justify a lesser sentence.

She reminded the court that the pathologist's evidence had never seen a baby with such severe injuries.

Wade had such extensive brain injuries that the swelling had pushed his skull apart. He had lung contusions caused by a hard blow to the body, injuries to both of his feet, bruises on his face and body and two broken forearms and 22 broken ribs.

Harmzen argued that neither of the accused had shown remorse or been honest with the court, but had chose to blame one other. "... There's no excuse for what they did," she said.

Rudman's advocate Karin Alheit argued that the court should take into account that Rudman was a battered woman with post traumatic stress disorder.

She had severe remorse, guilt and regret about her baby's death and was not a danger to society.

"She accepts she needs to be punished for what happened. She's fully aware of the consequences of this terrible, terrible thing that happened," she said, and submitted that Rudman had not contributed to Wade's injuries.

The court has found that she was aware of the abuse, but did nothing to protect the child.

Geoffrey Ledwaba, for Schoeman, argued that he too had grown up in an abusive household, and had turned to drugs to feel happy, and to deal with Rudman's abusive behaviour towards him.

"... All that happened happened because of drugs. The relationship became violent and the assault that led to the baby's death ensued," said Ledwaba.

Pretorius remarked that many people's lives were not as they should be, but that they did not murder their children.

Ledwaba contended that Schoeman could not fully appreciate his actions because of his drug use, but had "learnt his lesson" and "was prepared to repent".

The two will be sentenced on 5 March.

- SAPA

Read more on:    marissa rudman  |  nolan schoeman
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