Rohde pathologist dismisses defence criticism of autopsy

FILE PHOTO: Murder accused Jason Rohde speaks with his defense team in court before day four begins.
Jason Rohde FILE PHOTO: Murder accused Jason Rohde speaks with his defense team in court before day four begins.

State pathologist Dr Deidre Abrahams has “no doubt” Susan Rohde’s apparent suicide by hanging was faked by someone trying to cover up her murder‚ she said on Thursday.

Her husband‚ property mogul Jason Rohde‚ is on trial for her murder in the Cape Town High Court‚ and his defence team has spent the week grilling Abraham. She was the second pathologist in Susan’s autopsy‚ which was performed by Dr Akmal Coetzee-Khan.

Advocate Graham van der Spuy accused Abrahams on Wednesday of not being rigorous enough when performing the bloodless neck dissection in order to establish the cause of Susan’s death. The defence claims a ligature mark around her neck was made by an electrical cord which she used to hang herself.

Jason Rohde’s defence team read out what he says happened on the night before his wife Susan’s death. Multiple fights broke out between the couple after the dinner function at Spier Wine Estate. R...

Van der Spuy quoted from research articles and conversations with experts who said that in order to establish that Susan’s hanging was staged they would have had to do a histopathological examination of the tissue.

Abrahams admitted that they did not extract tissue but said there was no need to. “One cannot say that a histology of the underlying soft tissue can help you to differentiate between post-mortem and ante-mortem hanging‚” she said.

Abrahams‚ who has conducted about 9‚000 autopsies in 20 years‚ unpicked a research article on post-mortem and ante-mortem hangings and dismissed its relevance.

“I first think that this article is not applicable to our case. We had no doubt that this ligature mark was of post-mortem origin‚” she said.

The case continues.

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