Double-amputee track star Oscar Pistorius, on trial for killing his girlfriend Reeva Steenkamp, on Monday fell physically ill and repeatedly vomited into a bucket in the dock as the South African court heard graphic details from Steenkamp's autopsy.
Steenkamp was shot with bullets designed to expand on impact and cause maximum damage, Pathologist Gert Saayman testified after he identified the type of bullet from fragments in Steenkamp’s skull.
Saayman said that each of the three main gunshot wounds Steenkamp suffered could have been fatal in isolation. Steenkamp’s right arm was also broken and she had multiple skull fractures, both because of the effect of bullets, Saayman said. There was another wound on one of Steenkamp’s hands, he added.
Professor Gert Saayman was interrupted several times by the 27-year-old Paralympic and Olympic athlete’s sobbing and retching but the defence team argued against an adjournment, saying a break would not improve his state of mind.
Saayman stood for much of his testimony, referring to photographs that were not shown to the gallery as he described bullet wounds on Steenkamp’s body, one to the right side of the head, one to the right arm and one to the right hip area. He also described exit wounds caused by the bullets and other abrasions and discoloration of the skin, consistent with the impact of a bullet fired through a wooden object such as a door.
Saayman’s testimony was not broadcast or reported live on Twitter by journalists because of its explicit content under an order from Judge Thokozile Masipa. However, journalists were allowed to report the testimony without directly quoting the witness’s words.
Evidence contradicts Pistorius account
Saayman also gave his expert opinion on how long before she died Steenkamp last ate by the food contents in her stomach. He estimated that it wouldn’t have been more than two hours before she died. That appeared to contradict Pistorius’ version that suggests the couple had eaten and were in bed by 10 pm. Steenkamp was shot after 3 am.
Steenkamp, a model and personality on a television reality show and who had been going out with Pistorius since late 2012, was declared dead by medics shortly before 4.15 am on Valentine’s Day, 2013. She was found covered in towels and wearing a pair of white sports shorts with a Nike logo – a former sponsor of Pistorius – and a black undershirt.
Pistorius, the first amputee to run in the Olympics, is charged with premeditated murder. Pistorius, however, says the killing was accidental because he thought his girlfriend was a dangerous intruder when he shot her through the door of a toilet cubicle in his home.
Earlier Monday, a security guard who said he spoke with Pistorius soon after the shooting of Steenkamp was challenged by the defence about his recollection of the sequences of the events that night.
Key security guard witness
The sequence is important for the defence because, if it can prove that Pistorius called security first, it could support the contention that he was seeking help as quickly as possible.
The guard, Pieter Baba, had testified Friday that he called Pistorius and was told “everything is fine” on the telephone. Baba said Pistorius then called him back moments later, didn’t speak, was crying and the second call then ended.
Baba said he was responding to neighbors’ reports of gunshots coming from Pistorius’ home. He drove with a fellow guard to the athlete’s villa and made the call from outside the house.
Baba’s statement that he called Pistorius first could back the prosecution’s case that the killing was premeditated, and that Pistorius was trying, at least initially, to conceal what he had done.
On Monday, however, Roux said call records showed Pistorius called security first, but couldn’t speak because he was “indeed crying”.
(FRANCE 24 with AP, REUTERS)
Date created : 2014-03-10