Jason Rohde: 'If I am an adulterer, am I a murderer?'

2018-05-31 16:33
Murder accused Jason Rohde during his trial for the murder of his wife Susan Rohde at the Western Cape High Court on May 29, 2018. Picture: Gallo

Murder accused Jason Rohde during his trial for the murder of his wife Susan Rohde at the Western Cape High Court on May 29, 2018. Picture: Gallo

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WATCH: Rohde under cross-examination

2018-05-31 09:56

The prosecution continued with its cross-examination of Jason Rohde on Thursday, as it aims to prove his wife could not have committed suicide. Watch.WATCH

Confronted with the question of why Jason Rohde's family would believe his version of how his wife Susan died if he had deceived them all with his affair, he told the State on Thursday: "So are you saying if I am an adulterer, I am a murderer?"

Prosecutor Louis van Niekerk had been grilling Rohde on his culpability, during the second day of cross-examination in his trial in the Western Cape High Court.

Although his wife's death was thought to be a suicide, Rohde was later charged with her murder and accused of staging her suicide in the bathroom of their hotel room at Spier wine estate on July 24, 2016.

READ: Jason Rohde: 'I already have a life sentence'

He has pleaded not guilty to the charges.

Van Niekerk had highlighted that some family members questioned his story just hours after his wife's death.

The court previously heard how Rohde's father-in-law checked the bathroom door and mechanism as well as Rohde's hands as they sat in an adjacent hotel room on the day of Susan's death.

'I killed her, I killed her'

Rohde said on Thursday that the police told his family he was culpable for murder and their mixed emotions "were completely fuelled" by his father-in-law.

"If that was my daughter, I would react exactly the same. But that's not the point."

Van Niekerk asked Rohde who told his father-in-law he was responsible for Susan's death.

Rohde corrected himself and said his father-in-law was not told but was obviously talking to police officers outside and was "led to believe" that.

Van Niekerk said his brother-in-law testified that Rohde told him over the phone: "I killed her, I killed her."

"In a moment of weakness, you spoke the truth. You did kill her," said van Niekerk. 

Rohde replied that that wasn't true.

He said he killed her indirectly as a result of his adulterous behaviour but he didn't murder her.

Questions around cord

The State found it hard to believe that Susan, who was described as a fighter, would give up and end her life.

When Rohde demonstrated on a plastic head how he had used his hands to swipe his wife away during an argument, Van Niekerk said he made up a story to explain her injuries.

"The State is struggling to come to grips with your version, sir."

READ: Jason Rohde appeared reluctant to put cord around model during hanging demonstration

He showed Rohde two representations on a screen of how Susan's body would have been positioned behind the door, based on his testimony.

The accused pointed out some inaccuracies, including that he had never testified to seeing a double cord.

He testified earlier in the week that the tension of the cord was tight but he did not see if there was a noose.

No knot imprint

Van Niekerk said the only conclusion with this version was that the cord was tight because there was a knot.

However, he pointed out that neither of the pathologists made mention of a knot imprint on Susan's neck.

Rohde said he never testified about a knot.

The court had to decide whether to believe Rohde or handyman Desmond Daniels' versions, Van Niekerk continued.

While Rohde said he entered the bathroom first and found his wife hanging, Daniels said he went in first and found a woman lying on the floor.

Van Niekerk put it to him that he was lying and making things up.

Police not 'objective'

Rohde blinked and kept quiet as Judge Gayaat Salie-Hlophe asked the prosecutor to be more specific.

After repeating details for the accused, Van Niekerk said: "Your version simply can't be true, in a nutshell". 

Rohde said he would let his advocate and pathologist put his version forward, which he believed was the truth.

He added that the State needed to ask about the extent to which police investigated to get both sides of the story.

Had the police followed up on a commitment to meet him at Spier shortly after his wife's death, he would have gladly pointed out exactly what happened at the scene, he said.

And had it not been for Susan's relatives, who voluntarily came forward to tell police how she sustained bruises to her thigh, he would have been stuck with the label of "wife batterer".

Raising his voice and speaking quickly, he said there was no desire from the police "to look for anything".

"Surely as a policeman, you have to be objective. If someone is innocent, you also have to present that evidence."

The trial resumes on Monday.

Read more on:    jason ­rohde  |  cape town  |  courts

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