Oscar Pistorius’ bullets designed for maximum damage, court hears

2014-03-10 15:54

The ammunition that killed Reeva Steenkamp was designed to fold out “like the petals of a flower” and inflict maximum damage to a victim.

This was according to today’s testimony by Dr Gert Saayman, a forensic pathologist, who conducted the autopsy on Steenkamp.

Throughout the testimony, Oscar Pistorius could be heard retching loudly in the dock, leaning forward with his hands covering the back of his head.

Saayman testified that the bullet shards he discovered in Steenkamp’s body was “ranger” ammunition, formerly known as “Black Talon” ammunition.

He said he was not a ballistics expert but that he was familiar with this type of ammunition as he had seen such injuries before.

Saayman testified that the bullet was designed to “mushroom” or open up like the petals of a flower, to transmit the maximum amount of kinetic energy (motion energy) to the victim.

Furthermore, the “petals” also have very sharp edges, designed to inflict even more damage.

Pathologists and surgeons have to be careful when working around this type of ammunition in wounds because it can easily cut them.

Saayman also testified that the bullets that hit Steenkamp in the thigh and arm, fracturing the bone, could both have been independently fatal.

He said the shot that hit her in the head, causing massive fracturing of the skull and the base of the skull, would have instantly rendered Steenkamp incapable of voluntary actions.

Saayman said death was more of a process than an event, but estimated Steenkamp could only have taken a couple of breaths after being hit in the head.

He said the bullet shards he recovered were consistent with the types of projectile that had passed through an intermediary object, such as a door, before hitting the victim.

He also found wounds that had been caused by splinters from the door.

Saayman found no bruises that would indicate that Steenkamp had been beaten before or after her death.

He said that there was about 200mg of partially digested food in her stomach.

Although he said it was not an exact science, Saayman estimated that she had eaten within two hours before her death.

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