Former Sothebys CEO on trial for murder

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The CEO of international real estate chain, Lew Geffen Sothebys, Jason Rohde has been arrested in connection with the murder of his wife, Susan.

The CEO of international real estate chain, Lew Geffen Sothebys, Jason Rohde has been arrested in connection with the murder of his wife, Susan.

JOHANNESBURG - Former Sotheby’s CEO Jason Rohde will on Monday go on trial for his wife’s murder, which the state says he tried to make look like suicide.

Rohde insists that his wife – who he admits cheating on – took her own life after a heated argument.

READ: Real estate boss Rohde allowed to return home

The state admits in Rohde’s indictment that prosecutors are not entirely sure how Susan Rohde died.

And that admission – following the Appeal Court’s overturning of Thandi Maquebela’s murder conviction – may be crucial to how this case plays out.

Nearly three years ago the Western Cape High Court found Thandi Maqubela guilty of murdering her judge husband, Patrick, and sentenced her to 15 years in jail.

This was despite the fact the state, which believed he had been suffocated, could not conclusively establish the judge’s cause of death.

Judge John Murphy was not persuaded by the evidence of defence pathologist Professor Gert Saayman, who also testified for the state in the Oscar Pistorius case.

Saayman testified that the possibility that Judge Maqubela had died of natural causes could not be excluded. 

Nearly two weeks ago the Supreme Court of Appeal overturned Thandi Maqubela’s conviction, based on the evidence given by Professor Saayman.

The court found that Judge Murphy had been wrong to rely on Maqubela’s apparently guilty-looking conduct to justify her conviction when there was powerful scientific evidence that her husband had probably died of natural causes.

The state alleges Rohde suffocated his wife and then tried to make it look like she'd hanged herself.

READ: Rohde released on R100k bail

The defence is expected to call experts to testify that Susan Rohde’s cause of death is not conclusive and that there's evidence she may have taken her own life.

This case will be defined by headline-grabbing testimony about Jason Rohde’s affair with a female co-worker and its devastating impact on his marriage.

Also crucial will be contradictory testimony about Susan Rohde’s mental health and whether she was suicidal at the time of death.