Mys­ter­ies of Marli’s blood

Trial twist No sign of sis­ter’s DNA on killer’s axe or Henri’s cloth­ing

The Times (South Africa) - - News - By TANYA FAR­BER

● Just like her own mem­ory of that fate­ful night, bloody ev­i­dence of the at­tack on Marli van Breda in the triple-axe mur­der case is miss­ing.

Two ma­jor ques­tions hung over the trial of Henri van Breda in the Cape Town High Court on Wed­nes­day: Why was none of Marli’s blood or DNA found on the head of the axe al­legedly used to at­tack her? And why was none of her blood found on the shorts and socks of the ac­cused?

Van Breda is on trial for the mur­der of his fa­ther, mother and brother and the at­tempted mur­der of Marli.

On Tues­day po­lice blood-spat­ter ex­pert MAR­IUS JOU­BERT Blood-spat­ter ex­pert

Cap­tain Mar­ius Jou­bert de­scribed how blood from the other fam­ily mem­bers on Van Breda’s socks and shorts in­di­cated he was far closer to the “blood-shed­ding” events than he made out in his plea state­ment.

At least nine in­con­sis­ten­cies came to light on Tues­day be­tween the blood ev­i­dence and Van Breda’s plea state­ment.

While Van Breda looked crest­fallen as Jou­bert tes­ti­fied on Tues­day, he smiled on Wed­nes­day as his de­fence coun­sel, Piet Botha, re­peat­edly asked Jou­bert about the ab­sence of Marli’s DNA or blood on the axe and the ac­cused’s cloth­ing.

Marli was left for dead when her par­ents and brother were hacked to death with an axe at their lux­ury home in Stel­len­bosch in Jan­uary 2015.

Jou­bert tes­ti­fied by re­fer­ring to a prin­ci­ple that says “the ab­sence of ev­i­dence is not the ev­i­dence of ab­sence”.

He said it was pos­si­ble the na­ture of Marli’s in­juries — lac­er­a­tions on her neck and head — were not as prone to ma­jor blood­shed­ding as those sus­tained by her de­ceased fam­ily mem­bers, who were hit re­peat­edly in the same place on their heads.

Botha said: “No blood or DNA of Marli was found on my client’s shorts or socks. And sim­i­larly, on the weapon, not a sin­gle drop of her blood was found.”

He said the post­mortem re­vealed that Marli had in­juries “de­scribed as be­ing sim­i­lar to those of the de­ceased”, so why did none of her blood show on the axe?

Jou­bert said the na­ture of her lac­er­a­tions — sus­tained dur­ing what a foren­sic pathol­o­gist de­scribed as a ma­jor strug­gle with her at­tacker — would make her bleed­ing dif­fer­ent.

“You have to get blood to the sur­face to trans­fer it onto an axe. The first blow will cre­ate trauma to the tis­sue, but only if you strike in the same place will it bring blood.

“If you hit once in dif­fer­ent ar­eas, the chances of trans­fer­ring blood onto the weapon are ac­tu­ally min­i­mal. There are so many vari­ables, in­clud­ing whether it is soft tis­sue be­ing hit or not.”

The case con­tin­ues.

“The ab­sence of ev­i­dence is not the ev­i­dence of ab­sence”

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