Rohde case: Defence pathologist says it's possible Susan's body was dragged to bathroom

2018-06-21 13:43
Jason Rohde during his trial for the murder of his wife Susan Rohde at the Western Cape High Court. (Gallo Images)

Jason Rohde during his trial for the murder of his wife Susan Rohde at the Western Cape High Court. (Gallo Images)

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Faecal marks next to the body of Susan Rohde and outside the hotel bathroom door could possibly be as a result of her being dragged after she had died and soiled herself, defence forensic pathologist Dr Reggie Perumal told the Western Cape High Court on Thursday.

Prosecutor Louis van Niekerk had mentioned while cross-examining Perumal that no faeces was found on Susan's gown.

He said state pathologist Dr Asmal Coetzee-Khan, who visited the scene and did the first autopsy, had noted faecal soiling in the buttock area but no staining to the back of the bathroom door or to the gown.

ALSO READ: Defence pathologist agrees Susan Rohde's neck injuries could have been caused by throttling, manual strangulation

Van Niekerk appeared to be testing the version of her husband Jason Rohde, who testified that Susan had not been nude when he found her corpse suspended from a hook behind the hotel bathroom door in July 2016.

"I need to be clear: Susan was not naked. She was wearing a gown," the adamant businessman testified at the time.

Although her death was thought to be a suicide, Rohde was later charged for her murder and accused of staging her suicide.

He has pleaded not guilty to the charges.

'Contamination' only probable explanation

Based on the findings of Coetzee-Khan, the State is of the view that Susan was smothered and strangled.

Perumal said that one of the results of asphyxia [deprivation of oxygen] was incontinence.

He said faeces was unlikely to have been found on the back of the door if Susan had a gown on.

ALSO READ: Jason Rohde: Defence accuses State of 'character assassination' of its pathologist

"The gown would have been stained depending on the amount of faeces there was."

"Contamination" was the probable explanation he could think of for faeces being found next to the body, at the entrance to the bathroom door and at the entrance to the hotel room.

Van Nierkerk asked if it was also possible that faeces was transferred because of Susan's body being moved from the bedroom to the bathroom.

Witness adamant Susan was naked

"I am not sure. If there was soiling present on Mrs Rohde and she was carried and dragged over this area, then it would have been transferred in that fashion...if the deceased had stool in the buttock and she was dragged."

He said her buttock area would have to be exposed in this scenario.

Hotel maintenance man Desmond Daniels was adamant in his testimony that he had seen Susan naked after unlocking the bathroom door for Rohde.

Quizzed on the marks around Susan's neck, Perumal told Van Niekerk that there was a remote possibility of a pre-existing injury from a finger on the neck with an overlying ligature mark.

ALSO READ: Jason Rohde: State highlights cases where court rejected defence pathologist’s testimony

Van Niekerk wondered if Perumal, having been hired by the defence, subconsciously leaned towards Rohde's version when drafting his report.

Perumal said he stood in court as a professional and scientist expressing an opinion.

"I don't think any individual can say there is no bias that can creep [in] here. But everything I have said here I have said purely on the science and logic."

The trial continues.


Read more on:    jason rohde  |  susan rohde  |  cape town  |  crime
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