The pre- sentencing trial of Pelser:
First person on the stand was the criminologist who read the pre-sentencing report into the Court record.
THE NECESSITY OF PRE-SENTENCING REPORTS CRIMINAL TRIALS
*(Today in Court was all about to assist the court in into the causes, motives, contributing factors, triggers, victimology, aggravating and mitigating factors, before the final sentencing trial.
These reports are presented to the court after the offender has been found guilty, but before the offender is sentenced. Pre-Sentence reports contain the results of a Criminological Investigation, Evaluation and Assessment of the offender by a Criminologist. It looks into the causes, motives, contributing factors, triggers, victimology, aggravating and mitigating factors, and should as well include an assessment of the offender's background and personality. Ideally the report should offer suggestions on the management and prognosis of rehabilitation of the subject of the report and identify skills and programs that would be of benefit to the offender in question.)
Just a few highlights from the pre-sentence report that was read into the record.
a) Accused was born as a first born of three children in the North West Province
b) Accused stated that he once witnessed his step father assault his mother.
c) His step father strangled his mother when he was intoxicated - this was an isolated incident
D) Accused said that he was in a relationship with his former wife since they were in high school.
e) His ex-wife never told anyone about the abuse of Pelser towards her because she was embarrassed.
f) Accused stated that he earned enough money to meet his family's basic needs.
g) His manager stated that he was a good employee and that the whole department was shocked at his arrest
h) Accused experimented with dagga in high school. He drank occasionally but says that he never had a problem with alcohol
i) Accused has no previous convictions
j) Accused stated that he will accept his fate even though he does not agree with the conviction
k) Through consultations the accused remained adamant that he was not responsible for the death of his son
For rehabilitation purposes, and place of incarceration, the Defence asked the witness, where the structured environment is that the rehabilitation of the accused should happen. The witness then told the court , that prison is that structured environment.
Although correctional supervision can be given outside of prison, the witness does not recommend this sentence, because the accused has not accepted responsibility for his actions
Defence stands down. State now taking over cross questioning, in cross the following points were raised:-
a) The witness stated that the accused's manager said he was a switchboard operator but Pelser said that he was a sales consultant.
b) Pelser also told the witness that he drank pills, tried to hang himself and also wanted to slit his wrists to commit suicide.
c) Pelser could also not remember what happened after he left the complex. He had a couple of beers but was not intoxicated.
d) The witness also told the court that the accused had a short temper, and he wanted things done his way.
e) The accused's mother stated that the accused's ex-wife did not want him to spend time with his son but the accused looked after the child on weekends when the ex wife was working.
f) Witness stating that this could mean that the accused's mother was not being entirely honest
The State now calls second witness who has compiled a victim impact report for sentencing
Report being read into court
a) Accused's ex-wife witnessed her father passing when she was 5 years old. As a result, she was diagnosed with depression at the age of 16.
b) She was married to the accused at 19 years old. A month into the marriage the accused started being emotionally and physically abusive towards her.
c) The mother of the deceased has never recovered from the incident, she was constantly crying during consultation. She is scared that the accused might kill her if he is released into society.
d) She has not been in an intimate relationship since her ex-husband because she is afraid she will be treated the same way she was. She does not want to have any more children.
e) She said that no sentence will justify what the accused has done.
f) She is currently struggling to find a permanent job and even changing her surname has not helped.
g) She attended counselling twice which was discontinued due to financial reasons.
h) She was 21 years old at the time of the incident.
i) The incident had emotional and financial implications on the deceased's family.
j) The loss of a child is usually the cause of the worst possible grief.
k) It is recommended that the impact of the crime on the mother should be taken into consideration when sentencing the accused. The deceased was robbed of his life and society expects the court to send out a message that this is not acceptable.
Pelser took to the stand to tell the court that at the end of the day the sentence is not his choice, but he accepts his fate, and that he has nothing to say to the community. Pelser also feel he still has a future on the outside, and that he will continue to argue this case.
In their head of arguments the defence asking for the court to impose less than life in prison. That the court should take into account that Pelser is a first-time offender and that he is still young. Defence then continue to ask for a sentence outside of prison. Defence does not have anything to say on the subject of Pelser not showing remorse as it is "his constitutional right" Although he lost his son the way he did he had affection for his son and it would take some time to reconcile, he is human after all. Taking into consideration his age he might need to own a firearm in the future to protect himself says the defence. "May the court not take that away from him"
State then staying their case, that the state has proven its case against him beyond reasonable doubt. The victims lives have changed emotionally and financially because of the incident. Pelser still does not accept responsibility for his actions. He has nothing to say to the community The personal circumstances stated to the court is nothing but ordinary "he is young, he is a first time offender" this is a serious offence he not only murdered, he murdered his own son. The court should take into account the offence, the community, which calls for a very harsh sentence. Nothing has been put in front of this court to deviate from a life sentence, and the State also asking that he be declared unfit to possess a firearm.
Sentencing postponed to 16 February