The Hannah Cornelius trial is coming to a conclusion on Wednesday, as the four murder-accused are set to learn their fate.
The four men on trial for the murder of Hannah Cornelius are set to learn their fate in the Western Cape High Court on Wednesday, as Judge Rosheni Allie prepares to hand down the verdict.
We’ve packaged the trial into a nutshell, to explain how we have got to this point and what comes next. As you’d expect, there have been plenty of twists and turns in this highly-emotive case.
Who killed Hannah Cornelius?
Geraldo Parsons, Vernon Witbooi, Eben van Niekerk and Nashville Julius are all accused of playing a role in Hannah’s death. While the likes of van Niekerk have denied any wrongdoing, we’ve also seen Witbooi accept some responsibility and guilt for his actions.
Van Niekerk made the headlines last month when the prosecution presented a letter of apology that he penned after being arrested in May 2017. In the message, he says he’s sorry for what he did and asks for forgiveness, before pleading with Hannah’s parents: “Don’t be angry at me, please.”
He went on to claim the apology letter was coerced, and that he didn’t mean it sincerely.
Hannah Cornelius’ injuries
The pathologist confirmed that Cornelius died after a large rock – described by a borehole technician-turned-witness as being “too heavy” to lift by himself – was dropped onto her head twice. Abrahams said the victim was hit so hard on the head that it broke her skull and tore her brain.
What charges the gang are facing
The criminal quartet are charged with counts of murder, kidnapping, aggravated robbery and rape – as well as the attempted murder of the victim’s friend, Cheslin Marsh. The fellow Stellenbosch student suffered severe head injuries and was left deafened in one ear following the attack.
Hannah Cornelius trial: What happens next?
If all four are found guilty, they will then have to reappear in court to receive their sentences at a later date. Their rap sheet is as heinous as it gets, and each defendant can expect a 25-year stretch behind bars if convicted.
Despite a trove of DNA evidence and witness testimonies implicating the group, any life sentence is likely to be the subject of appeal from their defence team.
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