No forensic evidence links Hannah Cornelius murder accused to her rape – advocate

2018-10-29 18:12
The Hannah Cornelius murder trial continues in the Western Cape High Court. (Tammy Petersen, News24)

The Hannah Cornelius murder trial continues in the Western Cape High Court. (Tammy Petersen, News24)

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There was no forensic evidence that directly linked the alleged mastermind of the attack on Hannah Cornelius to her rape and murder, his advocate argued in the Western Cape High Court on Monday.

Tim Vismer, who represents Vernon Witbooi, submitted during his closing argument that testimony by co-accused Geraldo Parsons, which painted Witbooi as the man who called the shots that night, should not be considered credible or reliable because he was an accomplice and single witness and there was no independent corroboration.

He pointed out that while his client's DNA was found in a condom at the scene of the rape, it was from skin cells and Cornelius' DNA was not present on the outside of the sheath.

Read: Positive DNA match for two accused of Hannah Cornelius murder

According to Parsons, the only one of the accused who testified in his own defence, Witbooi had raped Cornelius on the back seat of her car. Vismer, however, pointed out that no DNA was found there.

Witbooi was also not forensically linked to Cornelius' murder, the advocate argued, saying that Parsons had swopped his and Witbooi's roles.

Vismer asked the court to acquit Witbooi of the rape and murder, but elected not to make any submissions regarding the rest of the charges.

'They left her for dead'

According to the State, four people accosted Cornelius and her friend Cheslin Marsh in her VW Citi Golf in the early hours of May 27, 2017.

A screwdriver was used to threaten Cornelius, while Marsh was forced into the backseat of his friend's car at knifepoint.

Marsh was stoned and left for dead in Kraaifontein. Cornelius was later raped and stabbed to death at Groenhof Farm.

Witbooi, Parsons and Eben van Niekerk face a string of charges, including murder and rape.

Their co-accused, Nashville Julius, was charged with aggravated robbery and kidnapping, as he fled the scene in Jan Celliers Street after allegedly robbing the two students.

Read more: Hannah Cornelius stabbed because she refused to get out of her car boot - accused (WARNING: GRAPHIC DETAILS)

Prosecutor Lenro Badenhorst argued that Witbooi, Parsons and Van Niekerk had acted with a common purpose in murdering Cornelius – in the same way that they thought they had killed Marsh.

"The court doesn't have to even decide who stabbed her. They were all there. They left her for dead," he told Judge Rosheni Allie.

DNA evidence from the condoms could link Witbooi and Parsons to the rape, Badenhorst added, and both implicated Van Niekerk who had not disputed the evidence.

The State argued that there was a possibility that Cornelius fought back before she was killed because the accused could have wanted to rape her again. According to Badenhorst, it explained why her pants was halfway down and there was no underwear when her body was found.

Parsons admitted guilt to all of the charges, despite pleading not guilty at the start of his trial.

Closing arguments continue on Tuesday.

Read more on:    hannah cornelius  |  cape town  |  courts  |  crime

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