Jason Rohde: 'Not in a million years did I believe Susan would commit suicide'

2018-05-29 13:48
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When Jason Rohde couldn't access the bathroom of his Spier Hotel suite and there was no response from his wife Susan inside, he thought she was just mad at him after a lengthy fight, the Western Cape High Court heard on Tuesday.

"Not in a million years did I ever believe Susan would ever commit suicide. It didn't cross my mind. Not even a thought in my head," he testified.

Rohde, who has been charged with his wife's murder, was the first defence witness in his trial.

"I honestly thought she was just teaching me a lesson."

Rohde told the court that he did not panic, but that he later got a feeling in his gut that something was wrong.

WATCH: Jason Rohde's second day on the stand

That was when he called reception to send someone to open the bathroom door.

He said he had kicked and shoved the door but it was "absolutely solid and didn't move one single inch".

Defence lawyer Graham van der Spuy asked why he had not tried to unlock the door from the outside, using a teaspoon or coin as the State alleged.

"There is absolutely no truth in that," Rohde replied.

He said he was not technical and that it never crossed his mind.

"I don't have that type of mind where I can look at something like that and think you could use something to lock it from the outside. Susan locked that door."

Susan was found hanging from a hook behind their bathroom door at Spier Hotel on July 24, 2016.

Although her death was initially thought to be a suicide, her husband was later charged with her murder and accused of staging her suicide.

He has pleaded not guilty to the charges.

READ: Jason Rohde told his wife he was done with their marriage hours before she was found dead

Rohde said that when they had woken up around 07:00 that Sunday, his wife turned to him, showed him her phone and said: "Look what your fucking whore sent me."

The message, from his mistress Jolene Alterskye, had asked Susan to wash her mouth out.

Hours earlier, Susan had followed Jason as he went to a colleague's room where Alterskye was. But he left when his wife apparently started screaming at him to get out of his colleague's room.

'I am absolutely done with this marriage'

After Susan told him about the cellphone message, Jason said: "I am done. I am absolutely done. When we get back to Johannesburg, we are going to sort this out. But I am absolutely done with this marriage."

Susan apparently got out of bed and looked at him before going to the bathroom and slamming the door shut.

Earlier on Tuesday morning, Rohde was very animated as he described the argument that preceded the gruesome discovery in the bathroom.

The court heard that Susan swore, was very angry and aggressively tried to stop him from visiting a colleague’s room in the early hours of the morning.

As he tried to get her off him, he recalled how the soft part of his forearm made contact with the side of her face. He also remembered moving his arm back and his elbow hitting the top of her nose.

"I remember it gave me quite a fright. I turned and looked at her. Her nose was fine."

Susan had also tripped on the concrete walkway and fallen onto a ledge and into the flowerbed, said Rohde.

He knew this because he could see mulch on her dressing gown.

Rohde recalled that Susan's injuries, which included a graze above her left eyebrow, were not serious and that blood did not drip anywhere.

The trial continues.

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