Pistorius trial: What was mysterious 'boom, boom, boom' before shots?

2014-03-07 09:06

Gerrie Nel, the prosecutor in the Oscar Pistorius murder trial, has sidestepped a question about three mysterious bangs, which a witness thought were gunshots.

Dr Johan Stipp, a radiologist who lives close to Pistorius, yesterday gave dramatic testimony about encountering a "mortally wounded" Reeva Steenkamp with Oscar Pistorius by her side, when he was the first medical professional on the scene.

"I remember he (Pistorius) said to me, 'I shot her, I thought she was a burglar, I shot her,' testified Stipp.

He told the court he was awoken by three 'booms' on the morning Steenkamp was killed and that this was followed by what he called a woman's screams.

Stipp said he then attempted to contact security and police at 3.17am, before hearing two or three more booms and what sounded like a man crying for help three times.

These second booms have become known as the "3.17 shots" because they definitely followed Stipp's phone call, which was at 3.17am.

Stipp told the court that both groups of booms sounded like gunfire to him, and that he even warned his wife to get away from the windows when he heard the second bunch of shots or booms.


Under cross-examination by Barry Roux, representing Pistorius, the defence's version was put to Stipp, that the first round of shots were the shots that killed Reeva, while the "3.17 shots" were actually the sound of Pistoris breaking down the door to get to Steenkamp.

Stipp conceded that a woman who had as "terribly serious and devastating head wound", as Reeva Steenkamp did, would not be able to scream after being hit by the final shot.

This means that, on Pistorius' version, there could not have been a woman screaming in between the first bangs and the subsequent "3.17 shots".

This also gels with the defence's case because it substantiates their assertion that it was only Pistorius screaming.

But this is where prosecutor Nel objected, saying it was the state's case that it was the second bunch of 3.17 shots that killed Steenkamp and not the first volley of shots.

Roux hit back that it was common cause that Pistorius only fired four shots, otherwise the state must "give us a document to say, in fact, we misled you".

Nel repeated it was the state's case that "there are two sets of noises; we (the state) say the shots of 3.17 are what killed her."

Judge Thokozile Masipa then asked Nel: "And before 3.17?".

Nel responded that "she was alive and screaming" and that he would deal with discrepancies between witness accounts later.

This leaves open a question in the prosecution's case, namely, what the three bangs were that Stipp heard before 3.17am on the day Reeva Steenkamp lost her life.

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