Jury retires to consider verdict

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Juliette Gerbes pictured outside the Napier District Court.
Juliette Gerbes pictured outside the Napier District Court.

A jury has retired to consider their verdict in the trial of a woman charged with the fatal stabbing of her boyfriend.

Juliette Anne Gerbes, 21, is on trial in the Napier High Court after pleading not guilty to manslaughter.

Her boyfriend, Christopher Jones, died after sustaining a knife wound to the abdomen in the early hours of October 13 2012.

Gerbes denies causing the wound and said instead her boyfriend pulled the knife into himself in the midst of a heated argument.

The trial began on Monday with counsel for both the prosecution and the defence making their closing arguments this morning.

Crown Prosecutor Clayton Walker told the jury to put aside feelings of sympathy and prejudice when deciding on their verdict.

He said the case lies with whether or not the jury believe Gerbes stabbed Mr Jones or if the wound was self-inflicted.

"The wound was located on Mr Jones left side, the front of the abdomen and angled towards his middle and down slightly. That simply doesn't fit with her description of what happened."

Gerbes alleged, in a recorded interview with police, that she had picked up the knife with her left hand and held it to the left side of her body before Mr Jones, who was facing her, pulled her towards him.

Mr Walker said the wound, in its direction and location, did not fit Gerbes explanation that Mr Jones had pulled the knife into himself.

"It does fit with her using her right hand to inflict the wound."

Mr Walker said it was "highly implausible" that anyone would pull a knife into their own body, least of all Mr Jones.

"It defies common sense that anyone would do that."

"He's larger than her, he's not intimidated by her, Ms Gerbes described him at times as being controlling, dominant and arrogant."

Mr Walker said some of the previous violence in the relationship had been initiated by Ms Gerbes and she had not been afraid to stand up to him in the past.

"The crown is not saying that because she had previously hit him that she stabbed him. What the crown is saying is that you must assess what happened in the kitchen in the context of her previously being willing to use violence against him."

Mr Walker told the jury Gerbes' version of events did not make sense.

"It makes sense that she stabbed him because she had had enough and she lost it...She picked up the knife to send a message to him, and that message was a threat. Don't mess with me, back off, I'm serious."

"The only logical and plausible conclusion is that she lost it and using her right hand she has then thrust the knife into him."

Mr Walker said the Crown did not accept that she was using reasonable force in self defence.

"All she had to do was call for help, but she dealt with it unfortunately in her own way and what she did went way beyond reasonable force, way beyond what was justifiable."

"As much as she may now regret it, she is criminally responsible for his death."

Defence counsel Eric Forster said his client had been upfront about her use of violence in the relationship but that these acts should be considered in the context of arguments the couple would have.

He said Gerbes had previously been slapped, punched and choked by Mr Jones, resulting, on one occasion, in a severe black eye.

Mr Forster said that Gerbes account of the incident was the only direct evidence involved in the case.

He told the jury that if they come to the conclusion Gerbes' account of how the stabbing occurred was a reasonable possibility, that indicates there is reasonable doubt and she should be found not guilty.

Mr Forster said there were no defensive wounds on Mr Jones hands.

"How could she transfer the knife from her left hand to her right hand and get a clear shot at the abdomen? What does make sense, as she said, is that there was a struggle for the knife."

He said Gerbes was unclear about how exactly the wound occurred because she was not the one applying the force.

"She can't tell you how the knife wound was inflicted, because she doesn't really know, that is because she was not the one applying the force."

Mr Forster said Gerbes' version of events had been consistent from the very beginning and she had not been particularly "self serving" in her interviews with police.

"If she was lying to them you would think she would have done a better job at getting herself off the hook."

He said she had picked up the knife but that was as far as she was willing to go.

"She didn't stab him, the objective evidence is that there was a struggle for the knife, the mechanics of how he was stabbed are unexplained."

Justice Clifford told the jury to collectively apply their good common sense in deciding their verdict.

- Hawkes Bay Today

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