Courtney Pieters murder trial to continue

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Mortimer Saunders in court. (Jenni Evans, News24, file)
Mortimer Saunders in court. (Jenni Evans, News24, file)

The trial of the man accused of the premeditated murder and the rape of Elsies River 3-year-old Courtney Pieters will continue in the Western Cape High Court on Monday.

The matter was previously postponed for consultations over further forensic tests done by the State.

The State was granted permission to submit evidence of further testing done on samples of vaginal and neck tissue taken from the little girl's body.

The point was to help clarify whether "blebs" - little blisters found on her decomposed neck and genitalia - contained red blood cells and, if it was blood, whether it was possible to determine if they were made before or after her death.

READ: Courtney Pieters' cause of death confirmed (Warning: sensitive details)

Saunders has been charged with the Courtney's premeditated murder and rape. She was last seen on May 4.

Her body was found days later in a shallow grave in Epping, an industrial area of Cape Town.

Saunders has, however, only pleaded guilty to murder, which carries a maximum sentence of 15 years. If he is found guilty of premeditated murder, he could be sentenced to life in prison.

READ Suffer little children: The missing, the lost and the dead

He also denied the charge of rape and pleaded guilty to sexual activity with a corpse instead, which carries no minimum sentence. A guilty verdict of rape of a minor could result in a 15-year sentence.

Saunders was a tenant in the house where Courtney's mother, Juanita, lived.

The court has heard that, at the time, he had "ill feelings" toward Courtney's mother, and was irritated that Courtney wanted to watch television in his room on his day off.

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