State 'skipped procedures' in Susan Rohde's autopsy, defence alleges

2017-11-20 19:16
Jason and Susan Rohde. (Facebook)

Jason and Susan Rohde. (Facebook)

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Cape Town - The State pathologist who led the autopsy on Susan Rohde allegedly left out crucial procedures in his examination before concluding that she had been strangled, the defence charged in the murder trial of her husband Jason in the Western Cape High Court on Monday.

Back in the witness box was Dr Akmal Coetzee-Khan, who returned to work last Thursday after being booked off sick mid-cross examination in October.

With Coetzee-Khan back in the witness box, defence advocate Graham van der Spuy, who is handling the medical aspect of Rohde's defence, accused Coetzee-Khan of not taking samples that could have helped exonerate Jason Rohde, the former CEO of Geffen International Realty Franchises.

Manual strangulation

The defence wanted to know why the State had not done a number of procedures, including taking certain tissue samples or a sample of the blood found in her stomach.

Another procedure referred to was where water was used to check for bubbles coming out of the chest cavity.

Coetzee-Khan said he did not think there was a need for these tests as everything pointed to manual strangulation.

They were also not routine tests that the State conducted during autopsies.

"The amount of effort to get histological specimens at Paarl would have been very, very minimal compared to the potential benefit to everybody that could have been revealed and now that is lost forever," Van der Spuy put to him in response.

The pathologist simply replied: "Yes".

The defence, saying it had consulted numerous experts, believed samples should have been taken from the parts of Susan's body where some unusual findings were recorded.

She had no food in her stomach, but Coetzee-Khan did find some blood and no ulcer, for example. She also had dried blood in one nostril. 

The defence believed he should have taken samples and sent them off to be analysed.

Property conference

He should also have taken samples from her neck to help determine for sure whether the ligature marks on Susan's neck were made before, or after her death.

Coetzee-Khan was also accused of not noticing that Susan had four broken ribs, when he had noted three. But the pathologist countered that this may have occurred while Susan was being taken to Gauteng for the second autopsy.

Susan was found dead in the bathroom of the suite she and her husband were staying in at a property conference.

Her death was initially thought to have been suicide, but the State decided that there were certain factors to justify charging Jason with murder.

READ Susan Rohde said she wanted to die - court hears

The court has already heard that the months leading up to the conference were fraught with arguments between Susan and Jason over his affair with Cape Town estate agent Jolene Alterskye, who was also at Spier Hotel. On the last night of her life, Susan and Jason had argued.

READ:  Valentine's Day card gave away Rohde's illicit affair

She had pulled at him, and had followed him out of the suite when he said he was going to a friend's room for a drink.

Jason said that he later fell asleep back in their suite and when he woke up he could not open the bathroom door. Susan was found dead inside the bathroom after a maintenance worker helped open the door. 

Coetzee-Khan kept his cool, in spite of many accusations by Van der Spuy that he had not done his job properly and had also overstepped by advising the police to confiscate Jason's passport in case he flees the country.

He said that one of the things he found strange was that Jason had no scratches on him to indicate that Susan had tried to pull at him while they were arguing the night she died. 

The court heard that the only cuts found on Jason were from a vase he had a dropped after Susan's death, and some other scratches that were so small they can only be seen through a magnifying glass.

The trial continues on Tuesday.

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

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