Suicide Squad download cited as evidence in Rohde trial

2017-11-09 15:50
Jason Rohde and part of his defence team in the Western Cape High Court. (Jenni Evans, News24)

Jason Rohde and part of his defence team in the Western Cape High Court. (Jenni Evans, News24)

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Cape Town - Downloading the soundtrack to the hit movie Suicide Squad and information about poet Sylvia Plath were submitted as evidence that Susan Rohde was feeling suicidal, the defence team for her murder-accused husband Jason submitted in the Western Cape High Court on Thursday.

"Not many people download images or poems of suicide," contended advocate Pete Mihalik, who is tasked with proving that Susan hanged herself, as Jason claimed, at a property conference at Spier wine farm on July 24, 2016.

The title of the movie he was referring to, Suicide Squad, alluded to the dangerous nature of the missions of a team of antiheroes.

In the witness box was Susan's psychologist Jane Newcombe, who was given a file of images downloaded from Susan's phone.

LIVE: Intense analysis of Susan #Rohde's cellphone activity underway in court

She was asked to comment on whether they constituted warning signs of suicide.

A quote by Sylvia Plath was read out and Mihalik asked Newcombe if she knew about Plath.

The quote she read was: "I took a deep breath and listened to the old brag of my heart. I am. I am. I am." 

Newcombe replied: "She was a very talented poet and writer as far as I can remember who ultimately committed suicide."

However, Mihalik listed the details of Plath's final months during which she became depressed when her husband had an affair. She eventually taped a room closed, switched on the oven and died of carbon monoxide poisoning.

He said there were clear parallels between Susan and Plath's deaths, but Newcombe disagreed.

Context applied to quotes

He also asked Newcombe to read a quote superimposed on a picture of reggae icon Bob Marley, which said: "The truth is, everyone is going to hurt you. You just got to find the ones worth suffering for."

susan rohde
WhatsApp picture downloaded from Susan Rohde's phone (Jenni Evans, News24)

Newcombe said these did not necessarily indicate suicidal tendencies and the Bob Marley quote was more "motivational".

"She's talking about the intensity of her emotion. She is not necessarily saying she is going to kill herself."

Judge Gayaat Salie-Hlophe cut in to point out that there were also downloads of quotes about forgiveness, such as one by Mahatma Gandhi.

Newcombe said this was why context was important.

The Gandhi quote read: "The weak can never forgive, forgiveness is the attribute of the strong."

Newcombe said it could indicate a period where Jason and Susan were working on their marriage and were more reconciliatory.

Earlier, Mihalik had asked Newcombe about the 2 229 WhatsApp messages she sent to Jason from February 2016, when she found out about his affair with Cape Town estate agent Jolene Alterskye, to her death on July 24, 2016.

She had also made 1 703 phone calls to him.

Mihalik described this as "incessant".

Susan's secret trip

Many of the messages read: "Call me", "answer" and "Where are you".

Two messages from Susan to Jason, that Mihalik focused on, stated: "I want that f****** bitch to see me and leave me alone", and "I am going to go there and cut that bitch's face".

She told him by WhatsApp: "I'm not living like this" and 'pinged' him many times, but did not tell her psychologist about this. She had just said she was checking Jason's phone.

She also sent one to Alterskye that read: "If I had any choices in this I would to choose to die right now and every other minute that I continue to breathe". 

The court also heard that Susan took a secret trip to Cape Town and took photographs of all the places Jason said he and Jolene had visited.

The trial continues on Monday.

suicide squad
Suicide Squad lyrics downloaded from Susan Rohde's phone (Jenni Evans, News24)


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

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