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Body under bed: Man denies guilt

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Independent Newspapers

Pretoria - An Eersterust man pleaded not guilty on Tuesday to murdering and raping the 18-year-old woman whose body was discovered under his bed two years ago.

Jermaine Marbles, 33, denied killing and raping his neighbour Novinia Groom on August 24, 2010.

He also pleaded not guilty to raping, attempting to murder and stealing a cellphone from another Eersterust woman in July 2010.

The 19-year-old woman testified behind closed doors on Tuesday.

The State alleged that Marbles attacked her while she was walking home in the early hours of the morning.

Marbles allegedly tried to kill her by strangling her and raped her when she lost consciousness, before leaving the scene with her cellphone.

Groom was allegedly last seen alive while in his company.

The State alleged that he took her to his room where he raped and suffocated her before hiding her naked body under his bed. The police found it there the next day.

Groom's mother Valerie testified that she had known Marbles since he was a child.

He stayed in the same street, in a room on his grandmother's property.

She and her fiancee went to Marbles' room to question him when they realised her daughter had not come home the previous night. She had last been seen with Marbles.

When he opened his door, Marbles was aggressive and told Groom her daughter had climbed into a car.

He said he was not feeling well and locked the door behind him when he left his room.

While Groom and her fiancee were on their way home, Marbles stood at the corner, waved his finger and started swearing at them.

Groom immediately phoned the police when she arrived home. She gave them a photograph of her daughter and information about Marbles.

While she and her family were waiting for the police to arrive, Marbles and two other men drove past in a white car. They did not stop but raced off.

The police initially insisted on a court order to search Marbles' room, but agreed to search it after Groom went to see the station commander.

“I was there when they searched his room. The female officer came out and said there was nothing.

“We were leaving when I turned around and saw a small pink and yellow object sticking out under the mattress.

“When the policeman pushed his hand under the mattress and came out with her foot I ran away and saw nothing further.

“I never went back to that scene because I cannot believe that someone can do such a thing.

“... I knew Jermaine (Marbles) very well. We never had problems with him.

“He used to greet us politely when he walked past. We never did him any harm,” she said.

Groom said Marbles had been released from custody about a month earlier.

The trial continues on Wednesday. - Sapa


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