A 20-year-old Perth man has been indicted in the Supreme Court on charges of murdering a grandmother in Perth who died four weeks after she was beaten in the head during a burglary at the home.
- Odette Feige was hit in the head during a burglary
- She died of complications at the hospital four weeks later
- The accused admits to having broken in, but denies killing
It is alleged that the defendant, who cannot be identified due to her age at the time of the crime, hit 71-year-old Odette Feige at least twice in the head with a weapon as she sat in an armchair in her Swan View home in the early hours on October 31, 2019.
State Attorney Katrin Robinson said that although it was not known exactly what happened, the weapon was most likely a pair of motorcycle gloves that had metal protectors on their knuckles.
The court heard that the accused then searched the home and left it in “a complete mess” before stealing Mrs Feige’s handbag and some jewelery and fleeing in her car.
Hours later, a nurse found Mrs. Feige lying in a pool of blood, and when she was rushed to the hospital, she was found to have a broken jaw and eye socket and bleeding on the brain.
She died four weeks later after suffering complications while being treated at the hospital, including a breast infection and heart failure.
Ms. Robinson said that although the injuries Ms. Feige sustained during the burglary probably did not directly cause her death, she would not have required treatment at the hospital without them.
“She would not have suffered the complications she died of …” Mrs. Robinson told the jury.
The accused talked about “beating the old lady” on the phone
The court heard that there were no signs of forced entry into Mrs. Feige’s home, where she lived alone after her husband’s death.
But the power was off and the accused man’s DNA was found both inside and outside the home.
When he was arrested the day after the burglary, Ms. Robinson said he initially denied having been in Ms. Feige’s home before “completely changing her story”, claiming it was another man basing the elderly woman.
But Mrs. Robinson said in recorded phone calls and conversations with her mother and boyfriend that the man was talking about what happened, referring to “beating the old lady.”
The man has pleaded guilty to breaking into Mrs Feige’s home, but he refuses to be responsible for her death.
Accompanied crushed victim, the court hears
In an opening speech to the court, the defendant’s attorney Justine Fisher said her client was 17 years and 11 months old at the time of the burglary.
She said he denied having assaulted Mrs Feige or participated in any attack on her.
Ms Fisher said her client admitted that she broke into her home, but he maintained that he was not alone and that it was an accomplice who bastardized Mrs. Feige.
It was suggested that the person responsible for the assault was a much older relative of the accused, who the court heard was arrested on suspicion of murder, but denied any involvement in the crime.
“Our case is (he) was present at the burglary and he participated in it,” Ms Fisher said.
“Contrary to (his) denials, we say he was involved.”
Ms. Fisher noted that her client had also admitted to having committed two other burglaries, but she said they were not committed alone, nor did it involve the use of violence against anyone.
“(The accused) did not harm Mrs Feige or physically injure her in any way… nor did he help the perpetrator who did.”
The trial is expected to last eight days.