"I was crazy about Rose, how could anyone not be crazy about her?" Ronnie Ron, grandfather of murdered toddler Rose Pizem and lead suspect in the case, testified Tuesday.
Ron explained that on the day of her death, he had offered Rose a wafer, but she had refused to eat it. "That was what angered me," he said. "You don't say 'yuck' to food." Ron claimed Tuesday morning that he had slapped Rose "educationally" while driving, then turned back to the wheel, "not realizing that there was a dead girl in the backseat."
The statement, given on the third day of Ron's testimony, differed from his earlier retelling of the murder, according to which Rose's position in the car was not within arm's reach of the driver. "Rose was my favorite child," he told the Petah Tikva District Court judges Tuesday, adding that he'd slapped her in order "to protect her from herself."
The prosecution inquired why Ron, who had been a lifeguard in the past, did not attempt to resuscitate Rose or take her to the hospital. "There was nothing left to do," answered Ron. "She was bleeding from the nose and ears."
When asked about the bag into which he'd crammed Rose's body, Ron stated he'd grabbed the first bag he'd found, which he had intended to fill with new clothes for Rose. The prosecution asserted that the large duffel bag would have better suited a long trip or a permanent move.
Ron shared details about life with Rose, saying that the girl had been afflicted with behavioral difficulties and that raising her had not been easy. When prompted by judges to describe the difficulties, Ron said that Rose's problems had not been diagnosed by a trained professional but by her mother Marie, and that Rose would defecate in different places around the house "in order to attract attention."
Unable to overcome the challenges posed by raising Rose, Ron told the judges that he and Marie had sought other options, such as sending her to boarding school or to her grandmother in France. However, tragedy struck before they could find a solution. "I can't think of a situation where a child would die from a grandfather's slap," said Ron. "When all is right in the world, children bury their parents."
Marie Pizem, Rose's mother and another suspect in the case, cried earlier on Tuesday when confronted with a photograph of her murdered daughter.
Ron offered an unusual defense for Marie on Tuesday, saying that she did not telephone the police to alert officers about her daughter's death because she did not know how to dial the number.
"Marie doesn't know how to dial on the phone, and she has no language with which to relay a report to the police," he told the court, in yet another version differing from his previous testimonies.