Susan Rohde sustained too many injuries to hang herself‚ says pathologist

Jason Rohde and wife Susan, who was found with an electric cord around her neck.
Jason Rohde and wife Susan, who was found with an electric cord around her neck.

Susan Rohde would have been semi-conscious‚ writhing with pain and coughing up blood in the time leading up to her eventual death by manual strangulation.

This was the evidence by Dr Deidré Abrahams‚ the second state pathologist‚ who testified in the murder trial of wealthy businessman Jason Rohde.

Abrahams‚ who assisted Dr Akmal Coetzee-Khan who conducted the post-mortem on Rohde's wife Susan‚ was questioned at length by Judge Gayaat Salie-Hlope in the Cape Town High Court on Thursday about how debilitating Susan’s lung injuries were.

Abrahams said that she sustained a “forceful blunt trauma to her chest prior to her death”.

“Blood had come up into her airways and she had swallowed it. It would have been some time before her death‚” she said.

She told Salie-Hlope that the injury would have been “quite significant”.

“(She would have experienced) reduced consciousness‚ reduced ability to move well‚ reduced ability to defend herself‚” said Abrahams.

In an affidavit presented to court she also rubbishes certain findings from the second autopsy conducted by Dr Reggie Perumal‚ a pathology expert hired by Rohde’s defence team.

Rohde is alleged to have murdered Susan in 2016 by strangling her and trying to make her death look like a suicide by hanging.

Earlier this week he provided a history of events from the evening before she died. They were at a work conference at a wine estate in Stellenbosch. He was a director of the company and was expected to give a keynote address.

Defence advocate Graham van der Spuy explained that on the evening Rohde was trying to ward off Susan who was in a rage over his infidelity and the communications with his mistress who was also at the event.

According to Rohde‚ during a protracted altercation after a booze-filled evening his elbow and hand connected with Susan’s face and that he grabbed her by her throat in an attempt to get her out of his way.

She also allegedly fell onto her side - a possible explanation‚ according to the defence‚ for the wounds she might have sustained to her chest and lungs.

The case continues on Tuesday when Abrahams will come under cross-examination by Rohde’s defence team.


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