Judge excuses Rohde case expert witness
FORENSIC psychiatrist Dr Larissa Panieri-Peter, who testified that Susan Rohde had major depression, which increased her risk of suicide, was excused by Judge Gayaat Salie-Hlophe yesterday for “regurgitating testimonies already placed before the Western Cape High Court” and overstepping her role.
Panieri-Peter, who testified on Monday where Jason Rohde is standing trial for the murder of his wife, who was found dead at the Spier Wine Estate in 2016, said she had physical and telephonic sessions with people involved in both their lives. She said given her understanding of psychiatry, she would say Susan had major depression.
Yesterday, the judge raised concerns at various stages during Panieri-Peter’s testimony and had reservations, which made mention of anonymous persons and evidence already brought before the court.
Judge Salie-Hlophe said Panieri-Peter’s testimony alleged facts she said were given to her by previous witnesses, but was not disclosed during their evidence.
“This report and expert testimony of Panieri-Peter’s is no more than regurgitating testimonies already placed before this court. In fact, it went about to use the function and role of court, whose role it is to determine whether Susan’s death was a suicide or homicide. No court acting reasonably would abdicate this responsibility. Unless there is anything the witness can bring, further examination is not allowed and accordingly this witness will be excused,” said the judge.
Defence advocate Graham van der Spuy objected to the ruling, saying it was grossly unfair and prejudiced Rohde. Van der Spuy said he would bring an application for a special entry to court.
Judge Salie-Hlophe noted the special entry and asked when the next witness would be available to give evidence.
The trial was postponed to June 19, when the next witness, Dr Reggie Perumal, would take the stand.
State advocate Louis van Niekerk, defence witness Dr Larissa Panieri-Peter and former Sotheby’s head in SA, Tony Mostert.