Shout tests done at Pistorius house

2014-03-07 12:23
An aerial view of the luxury Silver Woods Estate home owned by Oscar Pistorius. (AP)

An aerial view of the luxury Silver Woods Estate home owned by Oscar Pistorius. (AP)

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LIVE: Oscar Pistorius trial, day 5

2014-03-07 07:32

Watch the live video feed from Oscar Pistorius murder trial, taking place at the North Gauteng High Court in Pretoria. WATCH

Pretoria - Oscar Pistorius's defence recreated screams and shouts in tests at his Pretoria home last month as part of submissions to challenge testimony against the murder-accused Paralympian.

"On the 21st of February there were indeed tests done and part of the tests was a woman screaming, loud, as loud as she could," said Barry Roux SC in the North Gauteng High Court.

He has submitted that the screams witnesses have said they heard, were actually Pistorius's because his voice sounds like a woman's when he is anxious.

He said it was not possible for Pistorius's girlfriend Reeva Steenkamp to scream when she was shot dead by him on Valentine's Day morning last year because she had suffered severe brain damage, leaving her with no cognitive function.

A previous witness, Estelle van der Merwe, a neighbour in the upmarket estate, also said she heard shouting on 21 February this year.

The defence has placed heavy emphasis on the sequence and gender of the screams heard from Pistorius's house on the morning Steenkamp was shot dead.

The State's case is that Pistorius and Steenkamp had an argument before she was shot, and that her murder was premeditated.

His defence is that he thought there was a burglar in the toilet cubicle of the bathroom when he fired four shots through the meranti door, killing her. Then he broke the door down with a cricket bat and took her downstairs.

The latest witness, radiologist Johan Stipp, who said he later saw Pistorius next to her praying for her to live, said he heard the noises.

Stipp told the court, under cross-examination by Roux, that on the night Steenkamp was shot, he had heard a woman's scream, intermingled with a man's screams.

The test of 21 February is the second so far revealed to the court in the defence's bid to prove Pistorius's innocence on a charge of murder.

On Thursday, Roux revealed that a decibel test had been conducted of his voice to prove that his voice pitch changes.

Witness saw light, Oscar claims dark

Stipp said that he saw a light on in Oscar Pistorius's bathroom window contradicts the paralympic athlete's claims that it was dark.

Johan Stipp said he saw light through the frosted glass of Pistorius's bathroom from the bedroom balcony of his townhouse shortly after 03:00 on 14 February last year, when he shot dead his girlfriend Reeva Steenkamp.

Prosecutor Gerrie Nel then read from the statement Pistorius submitted at his bail application.

"Everything was pitch dark... I was still too scared to switch on the light," Nel read out to the court.

Stipp testified that he woke up around 03:00 to what sounded like gunshots, then heard a woman screaming and then three more "bangs".

Stipp said he could see one whole pane and the top half of the other two of the bathroom window and testified that he saw the light was on and the "light silhouette of a person" moving behind the glass from right to left.

A vacant plot of land separates Stipp's townhouse from the one Pistorius owned, in the Silver Woods Country Estate.

Intruder mention

Oscar Pistorius does not recall telling Stipp who came to assist him after he shot and killed Steenkamp that he had mistaken her for an intruder.

"Mr Pistorius says he can't remember telling you he thought she was an intruder," Roux told Stipp.

"He recalls asking you to help him," said Roux.

Stipp maintained that Pistorius had told him this.

Stipp,a radiologist, lives close to Pistorius's home at the Silver Woods Country Estate in Pretoria.

He was one of the first people to arrive on the scene after Pistorius fatally shot Reeva Steenkamp at his Pretoria home.

Screams

According to Stipp, whose bedroom balcony looks onto Oscar Pistorius's bathroom window, told  the court that he did not hear "blood-curdling" screams.

Roux put it to Stipp that another couple, Michelle Burger and her husband Charl Johnson, had testified to having heard "blood-curdling, fearful screaming that carried on during the shots and faded away after".

The couple's home is about 170m from Pistorius's. Stipp's is much closer, being separated from it by an open plot of land, according to photos displayed on screens around the court.

Stipp testified that he woke up around 03:00 on 14 February last year to what sounded like gunshots, then heard a woman screaming and then three more "bangs".

He told Roux on Friday that after he went back inside his house from the balcony to call security, he did not hear further screaming.

Asked to explain why, Stipp said: "I probably had compromised hearing at that stage... I was on the phone, not talking, but there were sounds, like dialling tones".

He questioned Stipp on whether he was sure about his testimony that he had twice tried to call the security at the complex.

Stipp agreed, adding that he could not get through the first time around.

Roux said the State had provided phone records of the security company and those showed that Stipp's first call did not go through, but the second call went unanswered.

Stipp maintained he was able to get through to security on his second try.

The State was trying to prove that Pistorius committed premeditated murder when he shot Steenkamp through the locked bathroom door at his home.

In addition, Pistorius is charged with illegal possession of a firearm and ammunition.

- SAPA

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