State has not proved premeditation, says Rohde's lawyer

2016-08-25 18:34
Jason Rohde in court (Jenna Etheridge, News24)

Jason Rohde in court (Jenna Etheridge, News24)

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WATCH: Murder-accused CEO Jason Rohde in court

2016-08-25 14:05

Real estate CEO Jason Rohde applied for bail in court on Thursday.WATCH

Cape Town – The alleged murder of real estate executive Jason Rohde's wife at an upmarket hotel is clearly a Schedule 5 offence, his lawyer told the Stellenbosch Magistrate's Court on Thursday.

In preparation for his client's bail application, lawyer Pete Mihalik said the offence was one that did not require them to prove exceptional circumstances existed to justify his release.

He said they did not have a certificate from the director of public prosecutions, that the State had mentioned, which laid out the prima facie case and schedule of the offence.

In his mind, the State could only say the offence was Schedule 6 if they had evidence of premeditation in the docket.

"I am not talking about 'skinner' and the YOU magazine."

Rohde's wife, Susan, 47, was found dead at the Spier Wine Estate on July 24. Sotheby's had hosted its annual conference at the venue for the weekend.

Private investigators, pathologists hired

She was found in the bathroom, reportedly with a cord around her neck.

Police initially opened an inquest docket for an apparent suicide, but changed it to a murder investigation after the post-mortem results.

Rohde, 47, CEO of Geffen International Realty Franchises, was arrested on Tuesday.

He hired a private pathologist and investigators to assist him. The pathologist provisionally concluded Susan's injuries were in line with suicide by ligature strangulation.

Before his arrest, Rohde accompanied investigators to Spier but could not gain access to the room and bathroom because it was still a crime scene.

"I do point out that my private investigator noted that the bathroom window of the 'crime scene' was in fact left wide open and anybody could have gained access to the room," he said in an affidavit.

Request for postponement

"This clearly shows 'sloppy' and inept police work as the integrity of the crime scene is clearly compromised. It's been like this for weeks."

He said they took photographs of the window, as well as photos and video of areas to which they could gain access to, and a room of the exact proportions. 

On Thursday, prosecutor Carine Theunissen requested a week's postponement for Rohde's bail application.

"Some of the outstanding evidence may actually change the perception of whether this is Schedule 5 or 6," she said.

Rohde's laptop was in police custody. They still needed to download data from his cellphone.

The DNA evidence, forensics and blood splatter expert's report were still outstanding.

State's handling of matter 'offensive'

After examining what they had on Wednesday, Theunissen said she was satisfied that there was enough prima facie evidence to go ahead.

Dressed in a black sports jacket and jeans, Rohde stared ahead with little expression throughout proceedings. Extra benches had to be brought in to accommodate journalists, the public, and media students.

Mihalik said it was in the interest of justice for the court to consider his client's personal circumstances and his co-operation with police.

"What is common cause is that he has two 16-year-old daughters and an 18-year-old daughter who have just lost their mother under massively tragic circumstances," he said.

"He is standing here, he has been labelled in the media that he is a murderer and now there are reports before court to the contrary."

The defence said the State's handling of the matter was "offensive to the extreme".

The court postponed the matter until Friday when the investigating officer was expected to testify.

Read more on:    jason rohde  |  cape town  |  crime

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