Rose's Grandfather Says Death Was an Accident; Court Refuses to Drop Murder Charge Against Mom

Ronny Ron, charged with murdering his granddaughter last May and dumping her body in Tel Aviv's Yarkon River, told a court yesterday that the girl's death was accidental, and that her mother, Marie-Charlotte Renault, played no part in her death.

Also yesterday, Petah Tikva District Court rejected Renault's attorney's request to be exempt from presenting evidence in her client's murder case, on the grounds that prosecutors had not presented any evidence of Renault's involvement in her daughter's death.

"Today, in hindsight, I understand that I gave her one too many slaps," Ron said. "I realized that I had done her in with a wave of my hand, in a split second."

"We were driving home, listening to music in the car. The girl was happy, we talked. On the way she started jumping, messing around in the car, and I turned around and gave her a slap - I gave her a flick," Ron said, demonstrating by swiping his hand at the witness stand.

"I turned around, Your Honor, and gave her a slap," he repeated, adding that he had struck the girl because he was concerned about her mother's response should she bang her head on the car roof. French-born Renault, who was married to Ron's son - and the girl's biological father - Benjamin Pizem before becoming romantically involved with Pizem's father, who was charged with the girl's murder.

Ron told the court that the girl "flew behind me onto the car door, then onto the seat," and that he interpreted her silence to be a sign that she was upset. "I kept going as usual, not attaching much importance to it, as if - 'no big deal, the girl got upset.'"

Upon realizing his granddaughter was not responding, he said, Ron stopped the car. "I got out from my door, and opened the door behind me. I saw the girl lying on the seat. I touched Rose, and saw she wasn't responding."

When he tried to lift the girl, he said, "her head just dropped down. Her head just fell down, it was cracked completely open."

Judge Achikam Stoler asked the defendant why he did not take the girl to hospital, to which he replied, "I understood that she was just broken apart. She came apart in my hands. I have no other words to describe it. I went into shock, into panic, fear, anxiety, hysteria. I didn't know what to do."

Ron said there was no doubt in his mind that his granddaughter was dead. "It was the most obvious thing, as clear as day. It's not the kind of thing that something can be done about."

"I put my hand on her chest, on her neck. I'm a beach and pool lifeguard - I examined her and gave her first aid," he said, adding that when he saw the girl had no pulse, he cried, "'Rose, Rose, Rose!' I talked to her as her father, not her grandfather."

"And then I decided to put my fear into the Yarkon," Ron said. "Who loved Rose more than her grandfather, Ronny Ron?"

He said when he returned home he told Renault he had deposited the girl at her French school. Ron said that he told police at the start of questioning that the girl had died, but his interrogators refused to believe him. He said he wanted the girl's body to be found: "First of all I wanted Marie to know, and I wanted the girl to be buried - I wanted her to have a grave."