Jason Rohde pleads not guilty to killing wife, staging suicide

2017-10-09 11:55
Jason Rohde leaves the Western Cape High Court. (Jenna Etheridge, News24)

Jason Rohde leaves the Western Cape High Court. (Jenna Etheridge, News24)

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Cape Town - Property mogul Jason Rohde on Monday pleaded not guilty in the Western Cape High Court to killing his wife Susan.

"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.

LIVE: Jason Rohde pleads not guilty to murder, inspection in loco to follow

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.

He said she continually pulled and grabbed him. As he tried to get her to back off, his arm connected with her.

"She did sustain injuries and she also fell. I never attacked her. Susan also sustained an injury before the weekend," he stated.

State's argument 

Reading out the indictment, prosecutor Louis van Niekerk said Rohde was charged with murdering his wife Susan in their hotel room at the Spier Wine Estate on July 24, 2016, while attending Sotheby's annual conference.

Regarding the murder charge, the State alleged that Susan was killed by means of manual strangulation and/or violence inflicted by means unknown.

The minimum jail term for this charge was 15 years in jail.

Rohde claimed he found his wife dead in the bathroom of their room at the luxury hotel.

Susan's death was initially thought to be a suicide. An inquest docket was opened and the post-mortem indicated there might have been foul play.

Regarding the second charge, the State alleged that he inflicted injuries on his wife and tampered the crime scene by locking the bathroom door and placing an electrical hair iron cord, one part loosely around her neck, and the other part in a single strand around the hook at the back of the bathroom door in Room 221.

It alleged that he then changed the same cord’s position by tying it to hang in a double strand around the hook at the back of the bathroom door.

The State believed that he supplied false information to police to mislead them about the true method of her death and the identity of the perpetrator.

Admits to affair

In his plea explanation, the father of three daughters admitted to an extramarital affair with fellow colleague Jolene Alterskye - something he was not proud of.

He said that his wife found out about the affair in 2016 and insisted on accompanying him to the annual conference, despite no other partners doing the same.

She knew that Alterskye would also be there.

"Although at the time not perfect, as a result of many reasons including my affair, as will be dealt with, our marriage relationship exponentially disintegrated as Susan's behaviour steadily became ever more irrational, obsessive and angry as evidenced by her demeanour, conduct and verbal assaults on me," he stated in his plea.

Her conduct apparently vacillated between anger, resentment, desperation and sadness.

"I believe, with respect, that her exponential deterioration and inability to reason or conduct herself rationally ultimately led to her committing suicide."

He, however, added that no one may possibly ever know the true or full reasons for her doing so.

The two consulted a marriage guidance counsellor, who had since agreed to be a witness for the prosecution.

The defence informed the court that they were still waiting for a large number of crucial statements, documents, working papers and other information that they formally requested from the State.


Read more on:    jason rohde  |  cape town  |  crime

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