AS IT HAPPENED - Oscar trial, Day 8

2014-03-12 09:03

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Oscar's trial - day 7 summary

2014-03-11 16:12

Jerusha Sukhdeo-Raath breaks down what happened in court on day 7. Watch.WATCH

Get all the latest details from Day 8 of the Oscar Pistorius murder trial in the North Gauteng High Court.

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Find the highlights from Day 7 here and here.

15:34 - Well, that's it for today's updates. We'll be back tomorrow (Thursday) morning before proceedings start at 09:30. Cheers till then.

15:33- See photos from proceedings today here.

15:32 - Have you seen this? Someone's done a video comparing gunshot sounds to a cricket bat hitting a door similar to Pistorius's bathroom door. Take a look:


15:16 - The toilet door (Sapa):

15:13- "Mayhem erupts as State prosecutor Andrea Johnson announces media has permission to take photos of door," tweets Oscar Trial Channel.

15:02 - Court adjourns. Back tomorrow at 09:30.

15:01 - Before adjournment Nel wants to know what pics Vermeulen should access. Roux: Photos of 8 March 2013.

15:00 - Certified tool mark examiner attended Reeva autopsy, but seemingly not asked to examine door. JV doesn't know why.

14:59- JV admits that there are certified tool mark examiners in his department. He's not certified.

14:58 - Roux wants "factual data" of cases that you've actually done of marks on wood. "If you've done none, you can tell us," he says. JV: There've been other objects I've examined, not on wooden doors like this... would apply scientific principles

14:56- Roux asks Vermeulen to bring personal file showing his relevant experience, qualification

14:55 - Roux asks Vermeulen to select photos overnight that will help him to answer questions...not all photos are necessary for court

14:54 - Roux: We tried to get copy of inventory...did you see it? JV: Wasn't relevant for my investigation

14:52 - Another photo is shown. It shows the entrance to the bathroom showing bath and splinters of wood.  It also shows blood, a woman's toiletry bag, bits of wood. OP tries to hide his face as photo shown.

14:50- JV forced to admit that "something happened" to door after it was photographed on 8 March 2013. Can't say what.

14:49 - Roux: Who had door between 8 March and 30 April? Vermeulen: Not sure... but with forensic branch, Captain Mangena.

14:48 - Roux showing pictures of the door which had marks on it. In the 8 March pictures, the marks are there.

14:46 - Photograph shown in court of large fragment of the door lying in a pool of blood on Pistorius's bathroom floor on 14 February 2013.

14:43- JV talks about one piece of door they reassembled being found on the scene. OP is covering his eyes.

14:42 - JV points to a small piece he could see... but Roux calls for photos, regarding other pieces

14:40 - Roux asking about splinters. Would it be fair to say they were there when you assembled door?

14:40- It was pretty much in the same condition as it's now, says JV.

14:39- JV says he didn't open the bag but can't remember who took it out of the bag. I assisted with putting the screws in when putting it into the door frame.

14:39 - JV: The door was brought up to the bathroom in a body bag. The panels were loose. Not brought in bubble wrap.

14:38 - JV doesn't know where door was kept after it was removed from scene.

14:37 - JV: Bat, door weren't in same condition when he got it, had already been handled, transported, investigated.

14:35 - Roux: You received the door and bat in same position as when collected. JV: No, it was not in the same position

14:35 - Roux: Marks consistent with police boots found on panel of door. Vermeulen shows where these would be.

14:34 - Vermeulen didn't see shoe prints and can't say how they came about. Doesn't know how they disappeared.

14:32 - JV "may regret giving testimony in his second language. 'I'm not going to bother with his version' is surely not exactly what he meant", says reporter Rebecca Davis.

14:32 - JV: I didn't re-open investigation and look at the mark? Roux: Why not, is the approach I've done investigation and that's it?

14:30 - Roux: you see this version and one thing you didn't consider was he said he kicked the door, you never investigated this?

14:28 - My objective is to look at the situation and be objective. I always try to be as objective as possible in all investigations, says JV. 

14:28 - JV said he wasn't privy to bail affidavit before later he saw it during a lunch time, Mangena, vdNest was there.

14:27 - JV says he first saw OP version regarding kicking last week - when he read through his bail affidavit.

14:26- Roux reads from OP bail application - where he said he tried to kick down the door before hitting it with a bat.

14:25- JV: I did receive the prostheses and they had a mark but it was probably from an earlier incident.

14:23 - I'm trying to understand the police investigation, says Roux. 

14:23 - JV: As far as I'm concerned no one was asked to investigate the possibility of the door being kicked down.

14:21 - JV's voice is breaking as he speaks. Roux is not letting go of this point about how the mark under the handle came to be there.

14:20 - Roux: We'll bring a plank and ask you to stumble a hundred times over it and I say there will be no mark... I see you laughing. JV agrees defence theory about kicking door "is possible".

14:19 - JV: "He could have stumbled over the plank" when he picked Steenkamp up. "Again this is speculation. I don't say he didn't kick it."

14:18 - Roux says defence did tests with OP prosthetic legs, sock, door. "It all matched".

14:17 - It was kind of a 'deurmekaar' situation in the bathroom there, says JV.

14:16 - Roux seeks to explain the mark on the door that JV can't - saying it was caused by Pistorius kicking the door with his prosthesis. 

14:15- I did look at that mark, didn't find anything that convinced me it came from cricket bat, says JV. Referring to mark under handle.

14:14- JV says the first and only time I went to the scene was on the 8 March last year

14:12- You will agree it's not difficult to see splinters, Roux says. Now that you know it's there, yes it's obvious, says JV.

14:12 - JV admits it was an oversight that he didn't notice splinters at time of photo

14:10- Pieces of wood clearly visible on side of door. Vermeulen says he didn't see them.

14:10 - A photo of the bat being held up to the door is being shown again. Roux asking JV to describe what he sees.

14:08 - JV says he did ask about the pieces of wood, but didn’t speak to the person who had possession of them.

14:08 - JV: This is the first time I've seen these pictures. This is the first time I've seen these splinters, these pieces of wood.

14:05 -  Roux hands photos to JV. This relates to the missing pieces of the door.

14:04- Vermeulen says he's 1.79m tall. Says "I'm not a lady so I don't weigh myself often". But he says he's around 95kgs. OP carries a "little less" weight than me and is a bit taller (when wearing his prosthesis), says Vermeulen (JV).

14:04 - Roux: Our expert from defence fully agrees, first shooting, then hitting by bat Vermeulen: Correct

14:03 - Vermeulen has been busy at lunch, drawing a diagram he now shows the judge to show bullet hole was there before crack by bat.

14:02 - And we're back. Colonel Vermeulen is still being cross-examined by defence lawyer Barry Roux.

13:30 - Oh, Herschelle Gibbs got quite a bit of reaction to his tweet about his signature on the cricket bat. Read Women24's piece here.

13:01 - From earlier: Barry Roux talks to the court during day 8 of Oscar Pistorius' trial at the North Gauteng High Court in Pretoria. (Alexander Joe, AFP)

12:55 - Oscar Pistorius trial like a crime thriller novel - UCT Criminal Law professor, Jonathan Burchell:


12:52 - State prosecutor Gerrie Nel questions forensic expert, Colonel Vermeulen. (Alexander Joe, AFP)

12:51 - Devi Sankaree Govender hosts The Lunch Time Showon DStv Channel 199, with regular crossings to the court house. Watch The Oscar Pistorius Trial – A Carte Blanche Channel on TV or online at

12:46 - The video galleryoffers a look at Oscar’s Previous Incidents and the events that landed him in hot water… or not.

12:46 - The break has been extended to lunch. They'll be back at 14:00.

12:43 - Colonel Vermeulen takes part in the reconstruction of the hitting of the door. (Alexander Joe, AFP)

12:28 - Roux is checking whether the stenographer is getting all the details of evidence when witness speaks at the door, away from microphone.

12:27 - Short adjournment.

12:26 - When was the door hit with the bat, asks Roux. JV reckons AFTER the shots were fired.

12:25 - JV: my understanding is there was a twisting, wedging action of the bat, piece was loose when I investigated.

12:22 - JV: "It matched if I bent myself into an unnatural position." Roux - but that's an unnatural position for YOU.

12:19 - JV demonstrates what he means by "unnatural position". He stands some way away from the door, bent forward, while holding the bat against the door. JV says this stance is unnatural.

12:17- Roux asks Vermeulen to put bat into door, he does, it fits...but he says it's an unnatural position

12:16 - Roux asks Vermeulen to push the bat into the gap in the door. It doesn’t fit.

12:16- JV says there's a mark on the edge of the bat that further shows how it struck door frame. Defence team exchange glances.

12:14- JV now says there's a mark he saw this morning which confirms his finding. Roux asks him to demonstrate hitting the door again.

12:12- Roux: "I'm so sorry, colonel." For making JV walk back and forth between witness box and door.

12:10 - My finding was based on both marks, says JV. He says it feels like an 'unnatural position' swinging bat from lower down

12:09 - The mark on the door corresponds with the side of the bat.

12:07 - Roux asks one of his juniors to go to door with the bat.

12:06 - Roux: what did you take into account for th 'expected' position? JV: Reasonable position for someone to hit a door.

12:05- JV: The angle, maybe one degree or two degrees, would not have made a major impact.

12:03 - JV says door was propped up against cabinet when he examined it in April last year, leaning slightly. It was not at an angle to affect findings.

12:02 - Roux: Was it fair to have your statement NOT saying he was on his stumps? Vermeulen: I was happy I'd done what was needed.

12:00 - Roux says (in what I reckon is a bit of a condescending tone) why didn’t you write a 2nd report?

11:58 - Roux: When did you come to finding that he must have been on his stumps? JV: Vermeulen says it wasn't an issue at that stage.

11:57 - Roux picking holes in JV's report. JV: I raised it in passing, didn't know it was an issue. Roux: you should have made a second report...why didn't you?

11:55 - JV: I was not requested to determine whether OP was wearing prosthesis or not. That is why it is not in my report.

11:55 - JV: All my notes are recorded on camera, and there are photos. There is a case file. Can make it available...

11:54 - JV: If I remember correctly, there were discussions about the missing pieces. I can't remember exactly who with. My information is pieces are not available, can't recall exactly who said so.

11:53 - JV says there were "discussions about the missing pieces" over the past year. "I can't remember who I discussed with.

11:52- Roux says it would "have been interesting" to see if missing pieces showed marks consistent with bat. JV: it would be interesting

11:51 - JV says his job was looking at the marks and that was the exhibit he received.

11:51 - I wasn't on scene when door was collected, says JV.

11:50 - Roux says there are additional marks on door now that were not there when door photographed on day of Reeva's death.

11:49 - JV unsure where additional marks on door came from.

11:48 - I guess Mr Mangena (police officer) had custody of the door, says JV.

11:48 - I saw the door for the first time on 8 March 2013. The door was taken to the crime scene.

11:46 - Roux asks about the preservation of the scene - what happened to the rubber handle of the bat? JV says as he understand it, the rubber handle was removed for fingerprint analysis.

11:45- JV: I would argue that if he had enough balance to fire a gun, he’d be able to wield a bat.

11:44 - Roux says OP would have even less balance than Vermeulen on his knees.

11:43 - Oscar Pistorius speaks with a member of his legal team prior to a hearing of his trial at the North Gauteng High Court in Pretoria. (Alexander Joe, AFP)

11:42 - JV is on his knees in front of the door. He says he's losing his balance. He says when he lifts his feet he loses his balance.

11:42 - JV is again demonstrating hitting the bat against the door. This time for Roux.

11:40- It's not for the State to determine what the defence should ask the witness, Roux says.

11:40 -  Roux insists he can show same marks from standing position.

11:39 - I saw you running around the door here, says JV to Roux. The defence was earlier taking swings at the door.

11:37 - It's NOT my case that he was on his prosthesis, insists Nel after Roux said it was the State's case that he was on them.

11:36 - OP's height when he hit door with bat was similar to that when he fired the shots.

11:35 - JV tells Roux that he's not a certified tool mark examiner, but says he's passed proficiency tests.

11:34 - JV says he hasn't done a microscopic examination on door.

11:34 - Roux starts cross-examining Vermeulen (JV). 

11:33 - Judge returns. Court resumes. 

11:30 - Ohhh. That picture tweeted earlier this morning of the Swazi women outside the high court? They're here for another case.

11:25 - "Fresco sits talking to state lawyer. Pistorius stands not far away, staring at him coldly. Sister Aimee joins Pistorius with hand on bac, says," says The Guardian's David Smith.

11:18 - "OP is back in the dock, walks past his former friend Darren Fresco, glares at him but Fresco doesnt meet his eye," says Sky News's Alex Crawford.

11:01 - OP has left the courtroom, says Harding. His legal team are still swinging the bat at the door though.

10:51- Andrew Hardingsays defence team is back at the door and swinging again.

10:48 - Barry Roux asks for a tea break as this is the first time this has been introduced to defence. Granted. Court will re-start at 11:30.

10:48 - We're back. Vermeulen (JV) still on the stand. 

10:42 - Another of OP's lawyers, Kenny Oldwage is now taking his turn at swinging the bat against the door, says reporter Devereaux Morkel.

10:40 - During the break, Roux and Pistorius go over to door, tweets the BBC's Andrew Harding. "Roux smiling. He and colleague swing bat towards door," says Harding.

10:38 - Nel granted 10 minute break. Needs to check notes. 

10:37 -  Vermeulen demonstrates hitting the door with the bat.

10:35 - OP stated in bail affidavit that he put legs on after shooting and then bashed down door.

10:34- Er... "Just saw my signature on the bat used by the accused in oscar trial... lol #neveradullmoment," tweets Herschelle Gibbs.

10:32 - I knew he would be considerably shorter without his prosthetic legs but I was not privy to measurements done on him, says JV of Pistorius.

10:31- JV: Investigated angles and height for completeness sake, when he looked at the bat and door, wasn't part of request.

10:28 - Vermeulen explains indentations show pressures of frame versus panel. Weakest point of panel made it possible to hit through door.

10:27 - Vermeulen in court:

10:27 - OP "handed a note to Webber (lawyer), you could see a stick man drawn on it, which appeared to hold a bat, as well as a door", tweets Barry Bateman.

10:25 - Picture on the screen shows the bat fitting in the splintered slot broken through the door. JV says there were corresponding marks on the bat that suggest it was used to beat down door.

10:24- OP hasn't really looked up during JV's testimony.

10:22 - JV says orientation of person who made second mark on door was different - standing in front of the door, the bat went through the door. The door has a loose panel inside a frame, mark was created when bat was twiste.

10:22 - They're now dealing with the second mark. Second mark also was a physical match. JV says orientation of person was different.

10:21 - JV suspects the lower mark was the first one.

10:19 - JV gets onto knees and shows where he would then hit. Hits mark made.

10:17 - They're now measuring distance from ground. JV's swing is 1.85m high. The mark however is 1.53m high.

10:15- JV demonstrating where on the door he would hit if he used the bat. Bat at 45 degree angle. Hitter would be standing right against door.

10:14 - OP looking down. JV demonstrating to court how bat hit door.

10:13 - JV has the cricket bat used to bash the door. Shows it to the court. Some signatures of "well-known people" on it.

10:12 - JV: Investigation revealed that bat made marks on door. Indisputable that cricket bat was used to bash the toilet door.

10:10 - Close-up photo of damaged door is shown in court. JV says he found the marks on the door to be "consistent with the hitting or bashing of the door with a cricket bat".

10:09 - Saw two distinct marks on the door which "drew my attention", says JV.

10:08 - JV couldn't determine what hit plate.

10:07 - JV says he received steel plate (from bathroom) and cricket bat on 26 April. He says plate bent as result of object hitting it.

10:05 - JV's task was to also try to work out what caused the steel plate to bend.

10:03 - On 8 March, door was not in frame. The toilet door. It was taken by investigating officer. JV asked to have it put back.

10:03- JV: I was requested to determine if there are any marks on the door that could relate to the cricket bat.

10:02 - JV: asked to look at two issues, on cricket bat, as well as door... see if there were marks on door from cricket bat.

10:02- JV says he knew a number of officers on the scene as well as Wolmarans, private expert for defence, blood spatter expert Ian van der Nest, ballistics expert Chris Mangena.

10:00 - Was instructed on 7 March to assist with investigation. He attended shooting scene on 8 March.

9:59- Has completed more than 1 400 forensic investigations in his career.

9:57- JV has been promoted to principal forensic expert. He's got many qualifications such as a BSc in chemistry in geology, and honours in chemistry. Has more than 29 years' experience.

9:56 - JV is the commander of the police's material analysis sub-section.

9:55 - Colonel JG Vermeulen (JV) sworn in. He's prepared a report.

9:55 - Nel hands into court first document which is a photo album and the second a statement.

9:53- OP looking down in court.

9:51- Police officer, Colonel Vermeulen called who is a forensic expert.

9:51 - Fresco excused. Probably thankfully. 

9:50 - Fresco says he doesn't remember taking photo. Roux done with Fresco. For now. Defence lawyer Kenny Oldwage shakes his head as Fresco speaks.

9:48 - Fresco says he doesn't remember incident. Photo shows speedometer (260km/h) when Fresco was driving. Fresco, after some silence, concedes to Roux he "must have been driving" when photo was taken.

9:47- Roux accuses Fresco of engineering false evidence.

9:46- Roux shows Fresco a photo he (Fresco) sent to OP's phone.

9:45 - Fresco says he sat in witness room with Sam Taylor and others.

9:44 - Roux wants to raise "the time of the photo" Fresco took. Photo of the speedometer when OP allegedly went over 200km/h. 

9:44 - Roux cross-examining Fresco again. 

9:43 - A friend, Mr Pistorius, asked me to take the blame for the Tasha's shooting, says Fresco. 

9:42 - Nel: could you hear the accused ask for the gun? Fresco: I did.

9:41 - Nel: Why did you pass your gun to the accused? Fresco: He asked to see it. He asked me for the gun.

9:40 - Fresco says he's an IT network engineer.Fresco a little unclear on the "gainfully employed" statement.

9:39 - Fresco says he’s had no contact with Sam Taylor since the 14 February shooting. Saw her first in witness holding area.

9:36 - Fresco says OP drove over 200km/h on the way to the Vaal. OP said nothing about speeding ticket and didn't offer to pay.

9:35 - Fresco says Pistorius (OP) kept gun between his legs as they drove back from Vaal. Not in holster.

9:34- Fresco says Pistorius and friends went to Vaal River on the day of the shooting through the sunroof incident.

9:34 - Or not. Roux says he has no further questions for witness. Gerri Nel starts questioning Fresco.

9:33 - Defence lawyer Barry Roux will cross-examine Darren Fresco.

9:32 - Court starts.

9:31- Judge Masipa is on her way. Darren Fresco is back on the stand.

9:28 - International reporter Rohit Kachroosays Pistorius entered court by himself this morning, much to the surprise of some reporters.

9:17 - "The door is held up by a white arch and behind it is a reconstructed lavatory complete with toilet, surrounded by a low white partition," tweets the UK Telegraph's Aislinn Laing.

9:15 - Reporters say four bullet holes can be seen in the door - three grouped diagonally 25cm below the handle and one 30cm down to the right.

9:11 - Reporters in court have just confirmed that the door in court is the one from the scene. The one Pistorius shot through.

9:02 - And this was the scene outside the high court earlier this morning:

8:41 - The prosecution team has erected a white door frame inside the courtroom, to represent the toilet door through which Pistorius shot Reeva Steenkamp, says Eyewitness News's Barry Bateman.

An expert for the prosecution will use the door to demonstrate key aspects to the State's case - the shooter's location and shot grouping, tweets Bateman.

8:35 - Darren Fresco testified that the "Blade Runner" was passionate about guns and had recklessly fired a shot from a car, and another inside a packed restaurant, Sapa reported on Tuesday.

Fresco told State prosecutor Gerrie Nel that he swore at Pistorius in shock when the paralympian fired a shot through the open sunroof of the car they were travelling in on an outing to the Vaal River.

Read more on:    gerrie nel  |  reeva steenkamp  |  oscar pistorius  |  barry roux  |  crime  |  pistorius trial

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