Jason Rohde has been found guilty of the murder of his wife Susan by the Western Cape High Court on Thursday.
Rohde was also found guilty of obstructing the ends of justice. Bail has also been withdrawn and Rohde will be taken into police custody.
“The State has proven its case beyond reasonable doubt,” Judge Gayaat Salie-Hlophe said.
“This court finds that the accused staged the suicide and had the direct intention to kill.”
Salie-Hlophe carefully laid out how Jason had devised a plan to stage the suicide after a physical altercation resulted in murder.
Based on expert evidence, she found it “highly improbable” that Susan would have gone to the bathroom to hang herself.
The property mogul was accused of murdering his wife at the Spier wine farm in Stellenbosch in July 2016 and for obstructing the ends of justice by staging her alleged suicide.
Susan was found hanging from a hook of a hotel bathroom door.
Throughout the trial, Rohde claimed that Susan had committed suicide.
Prosecutor Louis van Niekerk said in his closing argument that the fact that Rohde could so easily lie about his extra-marital affair meant he could do the same in court and lie about how Susan died.
During Rohde’s cross-examination, Van Niekerk accused him of lying. Rohde responded: “I’ve admitted that I didn’t tell the truth about my adultery, but as I’ve also said before, being an adulterer doesn’t make you a murderer, sir.”
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On Tuesday, the prosecutor was unconvinced by Rohde’s testimony and said Jason’s recollection of the couple’s last verbal argument was a “carefully crafted choreography”, “an extremely controlled version and [he had a] remarkable good recollection of the minute data of the physical altercation with the deceased”.
Van Niekerk sketched a scenario where Rohde allegedly “snapped” and killed his wife to silence her.
Defence lawyer advocate Graham van der Spuy said that Rohde would either have to be “Superman” or “Hannibal Lecter” to stage his wife’s murder.
Delivering his closing argument on Wednesday, Van der Spuy said there was an absence of incriminating evidence that was usually found in murder cases, with the State conceding that there was no definitive cause of death.
Van der Spuy also pointed out that the investigating officer found nothing in the drains of the hotel bathroom and found nothing, electronically, to suggest premeditation.
The doctor who examined Rohde after the incident only found a small cut on his finger which had been injured by a vase the week before.
“Effectively, Mr Rohde had no injuries whatsoever.”
He found Rohde to be open when testifying.
“It had the ring of truth about it and I found it impressive.”
See the full video of the Judge handing down the outcome here:- Jason Rohde guilty of murder; bail denied (full stream)
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