Jury in exorcism case retires for night

The jury deciding the fate of eight men and women accused of drowning a woman during a curse-lifting ceremony has retired for the night.

Wainuiomata mother of two Janet Moses, 22, died in late 2007 after her whanau attempted to lift a makutu, or curse, from her.

The eight people accused of her manslaughter are all members of her whanau.

The jury deliberated for about four-and-a-half hours today, after retiring about 11am. It will resume deliberations tomorrow at 9am.

The accused are: John Tahana Rawiri, 49; Tanginoa Apanui, 42; Hall Jones Wharepapa, 46; Angela Orupe, 36; Gaylene Tangiohororere Kepa, 44; Aroha Gwendoline Wharepapa, 48; Alfred Hughes Kepa, 48; and Glenys Lynette Wright, 52.

A ninth defendant, Georgina Rawiri, was discharged on Wednesday after Justice Simon France said there was not enough evidence to charge her.

A man and woman have also been charged with ill-treating and inflicting unnecessary suffering on a 14-year-old girl. They have permanent name suppression.

Summing up the case in the High Court at Wellington today, Justice France said it was clear the family held a strong belief in makutu.

During the five-week-long trial the court was told the family believed Ms Moses had become possessed by demons.

Family performed an exorcism on Ms Moses reaching its climax on October 12, when they forced water in her mouth and eyes over a number of hours to flush out the demons.

Justice France gave the jury a list of key points to consider during deliberation, including the issue of consent.

The Crown said Ms Moses did not freely consent and may have been suffering from the onset of mental illness.

The defence says Ms Moses believed she was cursed and gave her family permission to "fight for her".

- NZPA

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