Monika Matracka has pleaded not guilty to murdering Michal Rejmer in Castletroy in December 2015
THE jury in the trial of a woman charged with murdering her housemate and former partner has been sent out to begin deliberations at the Central Criminal Court this Monday morning.
Monika Matracka (35), with an address at The Pines, Briarfield, Castletroy, Limerick has pleaded not guilty to murdering Michal Rejmer (38) at that address at a time unknown between 8pm on December 30 and midnight on December 31, 2015.
Mr Justice Paul Butler said there were three verdicts the jury could return, namely; guilty of murder, not guilty of murder or not guilty of murder but guilty of manslaughter.
The judge told the jury of six men and six women that they must be unanimous in their decision.
The jury began their deliberations this Monday morning at 11.24am.
Opening the prosecution case to a jury over a week ago, Mr Paul Carroll SC told the court that Ms Matracka told gardai that she stabbed her housemate and former partner in self-defence.
Mr Rejmer was reported missing on January 6, 2016 after colleagues became concerned when he had not turned up for work at MacDonald's in Castletroy for a number of days. He was last seen on December 30, 2015.
Mr Rejmer's body was discovered by his friend and a local volunteer at the rear of his house in Castletroy under some plastic sheeting on January 8.
State Pathologist Dr Marie Cassidy gave evidence in the trial and told the jury that Mr Rejmer died as a result of bleeding from stab wounds to the arms.
In his closing speech on Friday, Mark Nicholas SC told the jury it was a most unusual case and is undoubtedly tragic for Michal Rejmer and his family.
His client – Monika Matracka - denies murdering the 38 year old sometime between 8pm on December 30 and midnight on December 31, 2015.
Addressing the jury, Mr Nicholas said there was no doubt the behaviour of his client in the days after the killing was “bizarre, shocking and outrageous.”
“Ms Matracka did not disclose that Mr Rejmer was dead, she moved and concealed the body, she attempted to clean up the scene as best she could, she burnt phones and a knife and disposed of them, she disposed of her clothing, she lied to gardai – all these things are true and they did occur," he said.
Mr Nicholas told the court the prosecution case that because Ms Matracka had lied that made her a murderer.
“Just because people tell lies doesn’t mean they are guilty of the crime with which they are charged. There are many reasons people lie and cover up and that can be down to their personality traits. I’m not sure what the prosecution’s account is other than Ms Matracka lied,” he said.
The barrister said that Ms Matracka was in a relationship with Mr Rejmer which did not go well and she was involved in a row which had a terrible ending.
During the trial, the jury heard that Mr Rejmer's body remained in the house for at least three days before Ms Matracka moved it outside.
“She was in robotic mode and in denial and was going to work. She does something bizarre and stupid and tried to cover it up,” he said.
He said that while this was a cover-up of “amateur, frantic and panic proportions”, when the truth did come out Ms Matracka resolved the case.
“Without her admissions there is no case,” he said.
Mr Nicholas asked the jury to pay particular attention to Dr Marie Cassidy’s evidence, who said the cause of death was unusual as one would not ordinarily expect someone to die from these wounds.
In her evidence, Dr Cassidy told the court that Mr Rejmer died as a result of bleeding from stab wounds to the arms.
Mr Nicholas said the arm wounds would not have “ordinarily resulted in tragedy” but it was complicated by a head injury.
“It’s not straight forward,” he said.
Ms Matracka told gardai in her interviews that Mr Rejmer fell down the stairs after the deceased cut her left hand with a knife.
She denied hitting him on the head and did not know how he sustained this head injury. Dr Cassidy said there was a large area of grazing to the left hand side of Mr Rejmer’s face and some bleeding inside his skull cavity. His brain was noted to be swollen.
Mr Nicholas asked the jury to suppose that Ms Matracka was their sister and whether they would be happy to convict their sister on this level of evidence.
“If you’re not happy to convict your sister, then it’s not good enough for Ms Matracka,” he said.
Mr Nicholas said the jury have heard evidence that there were painful injuries on Mr Rejmer's two arms but there were no injuries to his vital organs such as his heart, lung, throat or wind-pipe.
He said that the issue of self-defence was in this case and submitted that the force used by Ms Matracka in defending herself against Mr Rejmer who came at her with a knife was proportionate.
“While the injuries inflicted by Ms Matracka on Mr Rejmer’s arms are injuries of significant bleeding, they can be seen as a reasonable response to someone who has attacked her. You can’t punish her for stupidity with the cover up and it shouldn’t colour your discussion on the issue of self-defence,” he said.
However he told the jury that if they thought Ms Matracka went “too far in the force” used but that she used no more force than she thought was reasonable, then she was not guilty of murder but guilty of manslaughter.
Mr Nicholas said that Ms Matracka’s account of what happened was credible and reliable saying: “Suddenly she is in the back of a garda car, she has nowhere to go, the floodgates open and she blurts out that she killed Michal. From then she assists gardai and it all turns out to be true. This is an investigation led by Ms Matracka. She has told untruths for all sorts of reasons but then she comes clean."
In conclusion, Mr Nicholas said that this was a manslaughter case at its height.
“There is real scope that she used reasonable force in the circumstances she faced,” he said.
Earlier in his closing speech, Paul Carroll SC, prosecuting, said that it was “a leap too far” to say that Ms Matracka was acting in self-defence.
Michal Rejmer was reported missing on January 6, 2016 after colleagues became concerned when he had not turned up for work at MccDonald's in Castletroy for a number of days. He was last seen on December 30, 2015.
The body of the 38-year-old body was discovered by his friend and a local volunteer at the rear of his house in Castletroy under some plastic sheeting on January 8.