Updates from Thursday, April 17
Oscar Pistorius' defence team saw forensic expert Roger Dixon return to the witness box on Thursday, ready for another grilling from prosecutor Gerrie Nel, who had torn into his evidence on Wednesday.
Pistorius denies a charge of premeditated murder after shooting girlfriend Reeva Steenkamp dead on Valentine's Day, 2013. The prosecution aims to prove he intentionally fired after an argument with the deceased.
You can watch the live stream right here (subject to your territory):
Dixon had explained on Wednesday that a sound test had been conducted to prove gunfire sounds just like a cricket bat hitting a wooden door from distance. The audio was played in court.
The test holds significance because several witnesses claim they heard separate rounds of shots, but the defence is attempting to prove they were mistaken.
Nel told Dixon on Thursday that the audio was not to be trusted, per Sky News' Alex Crawford:
Dixon again described his belief that Steenkamp was fired at in quick succession, receiving a fatal wound to the head as she fell, thus preventing her time to scream. The prosecution argues to the contrary.
The witness also reiterated his belief that contusions to Steenkamp's back were caused by her falling against the magazine rack, not by the ricochet of a bullet.
Nel challenged Dixon on his claim, asking how his version can be more accurate than Professor Saayman, who had conducted an autopsy on the deceased, per Crawford and BBC News' Andrew Harding:
Graphic images of the toilet bowl allowed Dixon to provide his account of where Steenkamp's body was positioned, and he appeared to contradict Pistorius' claims of where the magazine rack was positioned.
Pistorius had claimed police had moved the magazine rack before taking pictures, but Dixon's evidence went against the accused:
Nel then turned to Dixon's test of what can be seen through Pistorius' bathroom window. The Stipps, neighbours of Pistorius and witnesses of the State, claimed they saw him move past the window on the night in question, because the bathroom light was on.
This is contested by the defence, which claims the light was off, and that Pistorius would be too small without his prosthetic legs to have been seen through the window.
Dixon ran tests to see how much can be seen through the window from outside the house, but Nel asked why he didn't use a person of Pistorius' height to conduct the tests:
Dixon's evidence weakened further when he was forced to admit his examinations of Pistorius' prosthetic legs were conducted via photos, rather than the real thing.
The defence had attempted to prove Pistorius tried to kick the door with his prosthetic legs on the night of the incident:
Prior to his arrival in court, Dixon had posted the following, and his integrity did indeed take another battering during Thursday's session:
Court adjourned until May 5.
Updates from Wednesday, April 16
Day 24 of the Oscar Pistorius murder trial saw the defence resume its attempt to prove the accused did not intentionally kill girlfriend Reeva Steenkamp.
Pistorius argues he mistook Steenkamp for an intruder, but the State has put it to the court that the athlete knowingly shot the deceased following an argument.
Judge Masipa began Wednesday's session by addressing the prosecution's request for a break from Thursday, April 17 until May 5. Sky News' Alex Crawford reported the response:
Forensic expert Roger Dixon returned to the witness box and instantly contradicted the prosecution's claims that bruises to Steenkamp's back were caused by a gun ricochet.
These findings are crucial to determining Steenkamp's body positions as Pistorius fired his gun. The defence claims she fell against a magazine rack, whereas Captain Mangena testified for the State that she slumped on top of it.
EyeWitness News' Barry Bateman charted Dixon's findings:
Pistorius became visibly disturbed as Dixon spoke of the devastating effects the bullets had on Steenkamp:
Dixon offered his opinion, despite not being a ballistics expert like Mangena, that Steenkamp was standing up and reaching for the toilet door handle when hit by the first bullet:
BBC News' Andrew Harding then noted the sound test conducted by the defence, which attempted to show that gunfire sounds the same as a cricket bat hitting a door from a distance:
Prosecutor Gerrie Nel then got his first bite at Dixon, instantly leaping onto the attack by questioning the witness' background:
Nel continued to attack Dixon's credentials, highlighting his lack of expertise and forcing him to concede he is not a blood-spatter expert. He also queried whether the bat from Pistorius' house was used to conduct the sound tests:
Nel leapt on the fact a music producer had recorded the sounds made during the test. He alluded to electronically enhanced sounds, which could make gunfire sound more rapid:
Following an adjournment for lunch, the theme continued. Nel punched holes in Dixon's findings, making him look anything but an expert:
Court adjourned until Thursday morning.
Updates from Tuesday, April 15
Prosecutor Gerrie Nel reached the climax of his aggressive probing of Oscar Pistorius on Tuesday, challenging the South African's version of the night he killed girlfriend Reeva Steenkamp.
Pistorius denies premeditated murder, but Nel spent several days punching holes in the accused's defence. He outlined the State's argument on Tuesday.
Nel began Tuesday by requesting a two-week break in proceedings, to begin later in the week, for the Easter holidays. Judge Masipa said she would respond on Wednesday morning, per BBC News' Andrew Harding:
Nel then instantly resumed his questioning of Pistorius, taking him back to the moment Steenkamp opened the bathroom window and went into the toilet cubicle.
He put it to Pistorius that Steenkamp could not have opened the window, used the toilet and pulled her shorts back up before slamming the toilet door shut, as claimed by the accused. Sky News' Alex Crawford reported:
Nel challenged further details of Pistorius' account. First he asked why he shot if he only heard a magazine rack move inside the toilet:
He then put it to Pistorius that Steenkamp's jeans were left inside-out in the bedroom prior to entering the bathroom because she was having an argument with him before he shot her:
Nel began to accelerate his questioning, asking for a visible demonstration of how Pistorius hit the toilet door when he tried to break it down to get to Steenkamp.
The prosecutor watched and then claimed Pistorius would have swung higher, which was denied by defence lawyer Barry Roux:
Now inside the toilet, Nel asked Pistorius to describe which position Steenkamp's body was in when he found her:
Pistorius described how he could not pick Steenkamp's body up and how he tried to call for help off her phone but could not access her password to unlock it.
Nel reminded the court that Pistorius screamed before shooting, screamed while bashing down the toilet door, but he didn't scream when he saw Steenkamp was dying.
He put it to the court—per EyeWitness News' Barry Bateman—that Pistorius only claims he did not scream at that moment because that is after the final set of bangs, when witnesses say they heard no more screams:
After a quick conversation with forensic experts, Nel focused on the magazine rack on the floor of the toilet where Steenkamp died:
Pistorius said the rack had been moved in the photo because that was where Steenkamp's body was when he found her. Nel put it to Pistorius that Steenkamp fell onto the magazine rack, with her head over the toilet, when he shot her:
Nel asked who was to blame for the night in question. Pistorius said himself. Nel then asked who should be blamed for the gun going off:
Nel then put the State's case to Pistorius before finishing with the witness:
Nel's finish drew contrasting responses from Crawford and EyeWitness News' Mandy Wiener:
Upon resumption, Roux began to re-examine Pistorius in order to address a number of points raised by Nel, first asking the accused to explain what he means when he labels the shooting an "accident:"
Roux also returned to the picture of Steenkamp's jeans, which Pistorius claims were moved by police. He blew up a picture that showed the jeans—once inside-out—turned the correct way:
Roux's last move was to prove Steenkamp and Pistorius had a loving relationship:
Following an adjournment, the defence called forensic expert Roger Dixon, who supported Pistorius' claim that there was little light in the room when Steenkamp walked to the toilet without him spotting her:
Dixon also supported the defence's view that bullets were fired through the toilet door before it was hit by a cricket bat, not vice-versa:
After lunch, Dixon revealed his findings that appeared to prove Pistorius did try to kick the door with his prosthetic legs, as claimed in his version of events:
Other key findings included a shoe print—a contamination of evidence according to Dixon—on the toilet door, wounds and contusions to Steenkamp's back that align with Pistorius' version of events and a further contusion close to the right buttock:
Court adjourned until Wednesday morning.
Oscar Pistorius returned to the witness box on Monday in Pretoria, having ended last week facing a barrage of difficult questions from prosecutor Gerrie Nel.
Nel is aiming to prove the South African athlete guilty of deliberately murdering his girlfriend, Reeva Steenkamp.
Pistorius claims he mistook Steenkamp for an intruder before firing four shots through his toilet cubicle door on Valentine's Day 2013.
Pistorius's fourth day of cross-examination continued with another bout of unyielding questions on Monday.
Alex Crawford of Sky News elaborated on how Nel outlined his theory that the accused has tailored his version of events.
Andrew Harding of BBC News explains how Nel continued to question the accuracy of Pistorius' evidence.
Nel pointed to inconsistency in written and oral evidence with Pistorius seemingly rattled by the incessant questioning.
As noted by Barry Bateman of Eyewitness News, Nel was relentless in his line of questioning to Pistorius.
After an adjournment, Nel moved on to the moments when the shots were fired with the prosecution insisting that Pistorius' actions were deliberate.
Crawford summed up the morning's proceedings.
The Sky News reporter continued to outline Nel's probing questions in the afternoon when he continued to go over the events and moments leading up to the shooting.
The trial continues on Tuesday.
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