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Uncle on trial for murder of niece

20:06 Mon Apr 30 2012

A jury has been told conflicting stories of how 10-year-old Zimbabwean girl Charlene Makaza met her death in Christchurch.

The Crown says George Gwaze, 60, a qualified veterinarian, sexually violated Charlene, his niece, with either a body part or an object before murdering her in January 2007.

But the defence says she died after an overwhelming infection which arose as a consequence of the HIV virus she had since birth.

In the retrial, prosecutor Brent Stanaway said there was DNA from sperm identified as being likely to be from Gwaze which was found on the crotch area of Charlene's underpants, her skirt and her bedsheet.

But Gwaze's lawyer Jonathan Eaton said the prosecution theory was "terribly wrong", Christchurch Court News reported.

Mr Eaton said the injuries seen on Charlene were outside the experience of clinicians who saw them and therefore misinterpreted.

He said the DNA amounts on Charlene's garments were tiny and could have been expected when garments from people in the same household were washed together.

Justice Christine French warned jurors to put anything they knew about the case out of their mind, not to carry out any independent searches, and to decide the case only on what they hear in court.

The retrial at the High Court in Christchurch is expected to take four weeks.