AS IT HAPPENED: Day 23 - Pistorius on trial

2014-04-15 07:34

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Oscar's trial - day 23 summary

2014-04-15 16:07

On day 23 of Oscar Pistorius's trial, Gerrie Nel concluded his cross examination and the defence resumed their case. Here's everything you need to know.WATCH

Oscar Pistorius's trial is now in its 23rd day. Get the latest updates here.

15:21 - And that's where we'll end updates. We'll be back tomorrow. Cheers. 

15:13 - "As he chats to his lawyer, Pistorius puffs out his cheeks, looks tired. End of cross-exam undoubtedly a weight off his shoulders," tweets Aislinn Laing.

15:04 - OP " musters a smile for his brother and sister and gives them a hug, then goes to talk to Roux", tweets David Smith.

15:00 - Court adjourns until 09:30 tomorrow (Wednesday). Watch a full summary of day 23's court proceedings here:

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15:00 - Sounds like Roux wants to adjourn. 

15:00 - RD: If you reconstruct the "bits and pieces" of the bullet that went into the head, it could not be the one in the toilet.

14:59 - RD: Size of bullet core retrieved from toilet is inconsistent with having come from one of the bullets that went into the body.

He has discredited state police witness Capt Mangena, saying he 'cant see' how RS cd have been sitting on mag rack as he said

14:56 - RD: On Mangena’s evidence that she was sitting on the magazine rack - I can’t see it happening.

14:53 - Dixon: it's the only hard surface...if she did hit this with her would be consistent with abrasions.

14:50 - The bruise on the buttock shows that Reeva fell onto the rack, says RD.

14:50 - Dixon: This photo of the rear of the deceased shows two small abrasions on the back. (Injuries on buttock).

14:47 - Dixon determines the contusions on Reeva's back would have happened when falling against a hard surface.

14:47 - RD: Striations are almost vertical, look different in earlier photo to later photos when condition of skin had changed.

14:46 - OP has his head in his hands, thumbs in his ears as we're shown close ups of Reeva's back bruises, tweets Nastasya Tay.

14:44 - The picture of the wounds on Reeva’s back is being shown on the screen. Oscar has his head down.

14:41 - RD believes splinters on Reeva's body were caused by the bullet going through the door at very close proximity.

14:37 - If a splinter is big enough, it could travel some distance - RD

14:33 - RD points out large spiky wood splinters on the back of the test door, together with shot cluster of splinters. 

14:31 - RD: We went to shooting range and fired Black Talon bullets into a door "to try and replicate the whole scene".

An aside: RD is very much a scientist - his tone is largely devoid of emotion. Which I know is what one wants in a scientist but... he's not the most exciting witness to listen to.

14:30 - RD talking about professionalism at the crime scene. Says the shoe prints on door "is most unprofessional".

14:29 - 

14:27 - RD points out human tissue and blood on police photos of door - taken hours after shooting

14:23 - OP listening attentively to Dixon as he speaks, tweets Sapa's reporter in court.

14:20 - Now a pic of the end of the cricket bat, is spattered with blood and there are grooves in it, caused by force against door- RD

14:19 - A close-up of the cricket bat shown. RD explaining that the grooves were caused when the bat hit the door.

14:18 - The expert's evidence backs up OP's version of events.

14:17 - RD: The last mark, the open space about the size of the bat, broke open the wood.

14:16 - RD says vibration from bat hitting door caused wall tiles to break off

14:13 - RD now talking through photos of the door. Says door panel is at weakest next to door frame.

He says all marks on door are similar and share same features, all in my interpretation, cricket bat marks.

14:12 - Roux puts up a next image. RD says it's a valuable picture, taken while door had not been handled very much...

14:10 - 

14:09 - Photo of door shown. Dixon's finger points to the top most impact point of the bat.

14:09 - He says 'mere act of stumbling' would not lead to such large amount of varnish on sole of prosthesis.

14:07 - Photo shown of OP's bloody prosthesis. Sock fibre material left on door as OP kicked the door.

14:05 - Defence shows a photo of the sole of the right prosthesis which is damaged in places. RD points out damage in the toe part of the prosthesis. This is the mark caused by the foot impacting on the door, he says.

14:04 - Back after the lunch break and Roger Dixon (RD), forensic, audio expert is back in witness stand

14:04 - Court resumes.

13:01 - Court adjourns for lunch. Back at 14:00.

12:58 - Court viewing a close up image of the door with the varnish surface of the door with white fibres. RD says its consistent with OP's socks worn over his prosthetic legs.

12:56 - RD showing Judge Masipa blood spatter in the door frame...also a bullet hole through one of the cracks.

12:55 - RD and Vermeulen's evidence not in dispute

12:53 - RD: The four raps in rapid succession he hit more like in a batting style, without taking bat back very far backwards.

12:52 - 

12:51 - Defence plays video. Bangs heard in court from the video.

12:49 - Roux apologises as laptop plays a musical tone in court.

RD: "We did this test on a shooting range at night in order to avoid as much extraneous noise as possible.

12:48 - RD: We took a duplicate door from the house and did tests in which we hit the door as well as fired bullets through it.

He did the tests himself and still has pains in his arm from the test.

12:45 - RD describes how he numbered the bat marks on the door, examined them to determine whether they were made by bat, and how

12:43 - RD points to marks on the door. He goes to the door in the court room to point out marks... moves back to the witness stand to speak into the microphone

12:42 - Dixon says his examination shows their were only three blows with the cricket bat.

12:41 - Dixon on the door: My conclusion is that damage on right hand side caused by cricket bat hitting it very hard.

12:40 - 

12:38 - Dixon explaining his findings through pics taken of the light from the bathroom and toilet - the toilet is much darker. 

With the toilet door closed there is no light in the toilet. When you see a man in the window he would need to be standing fully.

12:37 - Dixon: the degree of opening of the toilet door makes the toilet window brighter and brighter.

12:36 - Another photo shows a tall man in front of open bathroom window, lights on, light only seen in toilet if toilet door is open.

12:35 - 

12:33 - Next photo taken inside OP's bathroom - shows the toilet door, blinds half-way down.

Another photo inside the bathroom shows a man kneeling on the ground. This would have been OP's height when he was in the bathroom.

Mrs Stipp had said she saw someone walking back and forth in the bathroom.

12:33 - 

12:31 - Dixon: If your eyes were exposed to light, for example when opening the curtains, they would take time to readjust and you couldn't see.

12:31 - Roux introduces new photos - pictures taken by Dixon at night of the Stipp’s house.

12:30 - Roux: You also had observations in relation to the Stipp house. Dixon confirms.

RD says he did tests in the street in relation to OP's bathroom. Stipp's house was behind him.

12:28 - Roux asks about toilet light. RD says the light is not working in the toilet. The light switch for the toilet is in the bathroom. The light in the toilet was not working.

12:28 - Dixon: the CD player gives off just a little bit of light. With your back to it, you wouldn't see anything.

12:24 RD was asked to look at the darkness in OP's bedroom at night.He made sure all lights were off, curtains were closed and checked what he could see (even his hands in front of his face).

He says one could see a bit of light from the passage but not a thing in the bedroom, not even his hand in front of his face.

He chose a moonless night for the test because 14 February 2013 was also moonless, he says.

12:23 - Dixon: I'm a trace evidence expert but not a ballistics, DNA expert or toxicologist. Evidence covers diverse fields.

12:22 - Take a look at this Time article in which Dixon is interviewed.

OP is back in the dock. He looks tired, almost as if he might fall asleep at any moment.

12:19 - RD lists tertiary qualifications. He's got a lot. Masters and such... Also mentions that he was in the police's forensic lab dept for dept. Dixon was in charge of materials analysis. Vermeulen now heads it. 

12:18 - No objection to being shown on camera.

12:18 - Court resumes. Roux calls Roger Dixon (RD) as next witness. 

12:09 - Forensic expert Roger Dixon in court. He's expected to be next witness, will testify about marks on toilet door, tweets Karyn Maughan.

Meanwhile, the SA Human Rights Commission says it has rejected the complaint against Gerrie Nel, tweets another eNCA reporter Dianne Hawker.

12:08 - Gerrie Nel has concluded his cross-examination of Oscar Pistorius. Here's everything you need to know about the state's case against the Paralympian.

11:49 - 

11:48 - Court adjourns to allow Roux to prepare next witness. 

11:48 - Reeva's message to OP: "Roses are red, violets are blue.. I think today is a good day to tell you that... I love you."

11:46 - Roux finishes examination. One of the judge's assessors has a question for OP. 

Assessor asks OP if REEVA had access to alarm remote. OP says she did. Also says toilet light wasn't working at the time.

11:45 - Aimee Pistorius's face creases up with emotion as her brother reads out the message on the card from Reeva.

"I think today is a good day to tell you I love you" reads the message from Reeva.

11:44 - Roux: you were asked about relationship between you and Reeva, can you remember that? OP: Yes...

OP refers to a Valentine's Day card from Reeva. A card for the day the "accident happened" as he puts it.

11:42 - Roux asks OP about screaming for the test run. OP says doing the test made him feel fairly emotional.

11:42 - OP says he gave his bail affidavit before e had access to the case files.

11:40 - Roux refers to a photo showing the duvet on the floor. The jeans are on the floor too. In this photo they're not inside out.  Suggests photo he is showing now shows jeans right way around.

11:38 -  I didn't think about pulling the trigger. As soon as I heard the noise, I pulled the trigger, OP says.

11:36 - He says he was feeling complete terror and helplessness. Roux: Did you consciously pull the trigger or not? OP: I didn't think.

Nel objects, suggests that court needs to be vigilant about leading questions.

11:36 - OP says he was terrified and scared for his life and Reeva's when he was kicking the door.

11:35 - OP clarifies that he thought the door was either kicked, resulting in it slamming or someone just slammed it.

11:34 - Roux is dealing with slamming/closing of the door.OP still sounds a little fragile but definitely more confident than when Nel was cross-examining him.

11:33 - Roux starts asking about when OP was being cross-examined.

11:33 - Court resumes. OP is still in the witness box. Barry Roux starts...

11:29 - "Pistorius family are smiling, looking buoyed," tweets City Press's Charl du Plessis.

11:13 - Criminal law expert William Booth says Oscar Pistorius crumbled under Gerrie Nel's cross examination by presenting different versions of what happened on 14 February.

11:08 - "Uncle Arnold holds a relieved Pistorius in a long embrace, then they chat to the court artist," tweets The Guardian's David Smith.

11:02 - OP "comes out into courtroom again having left briefly and has to squeeze past Gerrie Nel to get to his counsel. Looked awkward," says Alex Crawford.

10:57 - Court will resume at 11.30 after tea break. 

10:55 - Uncle Arnold is consoling sister Aimee who is in tears, says Sky News reporter Alex Crawford.

10:49 - Nel concludes with Pistorius. Roux wants five minutes to confer with team. Court adjourns. 

10:48 - You armed yourself with the sole purpose of shooting and killing Reeva, Nel says. OP: That's not true. You are overcome by what you've done, Nel says.

10:47 - While Reeva was eating she started arguing. I put it to you that the neighbours heard REEVA'S bloodcurdling screams, Nel says. YOU shot four shots through the door knowing that Reeva was behind it, he says.

10:46 - Reeva ate within two hours of you having shot and killed her - Nel. OP disagrees.

10:45 - There were only two people in the house that night, only you can tell us what happened - Nel. Nel: I'm putting to you your version is not only untrue but so improbable that it cannot be accepted.  

10:44 - OP doesn't understand the question. Why did you have black Talon ammo, Nel wants to know. That's the type of ammo I have, OP says.

10:43 - Who should we blame for the black Talon rounds that ripped through her body, Nel says, louder now.

10:41 - Who should we blame fort the fact that you shot her, Nel asks. OP: I don't know.

I believed there was a threat that was on my life, OP says tearfully. We should blame somebody or something, Nel says. I'm not sure, OP says. Should we blame Reeva, Nel asks.

Should we blame the government, Nel asks.

10:41 - Nel: that rack never moved, that's where she ended up... OP disagrees.

10:41 - OP: when I found Reeva it was definitely not there... Nel: even if it moved after you moved her, blood wouldn't be there.

10:39 - Nel says there are hair smears on magazine rack, showing her head touched it. He says if the leg of the rack slid into the blood it would not look the way it does. It looks as if blood collectedaround the leg.

10:38 - Close up now of magazine rack shown to court. Nel pointing to blood smear on wall. OP suggests it's made by his sock.

10:37 - Nel wants to show photo indicating that there is indeed blood on the magazine rack 119 zoomed in.

10:36 - 

10:35 -  Nel asks about Pistorius’s pathologist testimony that the marks on Reeva’s back were caused by the magazine rack…

10:34 - Nel: I'm going to show you there's indeed blood on the magazine rack and it hadn't moved.

10:33 - Nel wants to show a picture which he says shows blood on magazine rack and that it hasn't moved. 

10:33 - Court resumes. 

10:32 - Reporters in court now speak of a "huddle" of policemen around Nel as they look over a photo. 

10:28 - Court adjourns to allow Nel to confer with team. I'm getting lots of notes from behind (me), he says.

10:26 - Nel goes back to a picture showing the magazine rack leg in a pool of blood - it looks like it never moved. Somebody must have picked it up and put it into the blood.

10:24 - Nel needs a moment to look over a note from "someone". Now wants to confer with his team.

10:23 - OP says he doesn't remember putting his iPhone into a charger.

10:21 - Nel asks where his phone was. "You took your phone downstairs, why would you not drop it when you picked up Reeva?" OP: The state of panic is not knowing... No, I was broken, I was overcome with sadness.

10:20 - OP gets increasingly emotional, teary as he recounts how he was told to "put Reeva down".

10:19 - OP doesn't remember speaking to security guard, Mr Baba. If he phoned security first, why would he tell Baba that everything is fine, he says.

10:18 - OP says he then called the security, but has no recollection of that call.

10:17 - OP: I was talking to her, saying "Baby, hold on...Jesus help me"

10:16 - Nel questions OP about why he didn't scream after he saw the wounded Reeva? OP: I was broken.

When I saw Reeva there I was broken, I was overcome... with sadness, OP says.

10:15 - OP says he called Stander, then emergency line. Emergency personnel told him to take Reeva to a hospital asap and not wait for an ambulance.

10:15 - OP says there was a lot of tampering - says photos show it - but can't recall specifics.

10:14 - OP doesn't remember where he put the white phone.

10:11 - We're now looking at a pic of the bloodied towel, cricket bat, blood smeared on the tiled floor. Nel asks about police tampering. 

Nel - you don't have an independent recollection of what you did with the gun? OP - I don't

10:11 - I dropped the phone and ran to get my phone from the bedroom, OP says.The phone was on the lefthand side of the bed.

10:10 - OP says Reeva's phone was on the floor where the big panel was. OP says he picked the phone up but couldn't access it because of the pass code. He says it was on.

10:10 - Nel asks if kicking the mag rack is memory or reconstruction. OP says he doesn't remember doing it but "must have".

10:09 - I scuffled around with my legs which was when I probably kicked the rack. When I turned her around I placed her down on the ground, then I tried to get her into the bathroom.

10:08 -  I sat over her...I checked to see if she was breathing, if she had a pulse, OP says. I heard her breathing - I tried to get her up and out of the toilet, he says.

10:07 - Now court is shown a phototaken from just outside the door of the toilet. The toilet bow is to the left, the rack straight ahead. There's blood on the floor.

10:06 - Nel: where was magazine rack? OP: to the far right against the wall...

Aimee Pistorius wipes away tears as OP speaks.

10:05 - A photo of the bloodied toilet is shown. Nel points to the picture and asks if Reeva sat there. OP says rack wasn't there.

10:04 -  Nel shows the court a picture of the bloodied toilet - asks OP to say where Reeva was.

10:02 - Pistorius: "I grabbed the larger panel, once I'd seen Reeva, with my hands and threw it into the bathroom. I tried to climb in but couldn't.

Nel asks for position Reeva was in when he saw her. A teary OP says she was (pause) sitting on the floor to the right of the toilet..(cries) with her right arm on top of toilet bowl... Her head was on her shoulder...

10:01 - Barry Roux says the bat hits the mark. Nel admits he hit the mark on both instances but insists he would have hit it higher. OP  insists that position is "very comfortable" while Nel says on prostheses he would have hit door higher up.

10:00 - "Pistorius is asked to swing. He swings and hits towards the middle of the door, then adjusts so he hits the mark around 30cm to the right," tweets Laing.

9:58 - "Pistorius holds the bat by the handle to the mark on the door as the Colonel holds the tip to the door," tweets Aislinn Laing from court. We're not seeing this on TV because OP requested not to be shown while in the witness box.

9:57 - Nel asks OP to do another demonstration of hitting the toilet door. But first he wants Cnl Vermeulen to take the bat to the door.

9:57 - Nel: You weren't screaming "Reeva! Reeva!" because she was hiding in the toilet? OP: No, my lady."

9:56 - OP clearly emotional as he tells of screaming for Reeva. "I was overcome with terror and despair," he says.

9:55 - If you're doing all possible to kick the door down why do you still have the gun in your hand? - Nel. OP: I don't know. Nel: I'll tell you why, because it didn't happen. Not true, says OP.

9:53 - What happened to the gun in this time, Nel asks. OP says he put the gun down in the bathroom when he ran to the toilet door with the cricket bat. Before that he 'shoulder-charged' the door with left shoulder with the cocked gun in his right hand.

9:52 - OP says he screamed while he was hitting the toilet door. I was crying out for the Lord to help me, for Reeva... 

9:51 - OP explains how he ran back to the toilet door and kicked it, then ran to get the cricket bat to use it to open the door. He's sounding emotional again.

9:49 - For someone as neat as Reeva it's unlikely she would have left her jeans, inside out, on the floor while everything was packed away, Nel says. He suggests it was because of an argument in the bedroom with OP. OP doesn't see how this makes sense.

If she wanted to leave, why would she get out of her jeans and put on MY clothes, OP says.

9:48 - It's an inference that the magazine rack was moving when I thought I heard the door opening, OP tells Nel. Nel accuses him of tailoring more and more and making his story more improbable.

9:47 - OP now says he's getting confused. So not a great way to start the day for the athlete... Nel accuses him of constantly thinking of a version.

9:46 - Unfortunately this opens it up for me to ask why would you fire if you heard the magazine rack moving, Nel wants to know. OP explains: I thought it was the door opening.

Nel: No, you said you thought it was the magazine rack. OP: In retrospect it was the magazine rack. 

9:44 - Why would you use the word movement and not noise, Nel asks. OP says he interpreted it to be a noise. He thinks it was the sound of the magazine rack in the toilet moving. Nel says OP is again tailoring his evidence.

9:44 - Nel: my inference is that 'movement' refers to the intruders. Pistorius: I said yesterday it was sound of wood.

9:42 - I realised the intruders were in the toilet... I heard movement inside the toilet, OP had written. Nel says there's nothing about "wood movement" as mentioned yesterday.

Judge tells OP his voice is "extremely low".

9:40 - Nel refers to OP's bail application. OP says he can't remember how he described it in his bail application.

9:39 -  Nel: She would have gone to the bathroom, opened the window, gone into the cubicle and voided her bladder. There would not have been enough time. OP disagrees.

9:37 - Nel summarises actions from that night. Reeva would have had time to empty bladder, he says. OP agrees. OP: she was dressed when she went to the bathroom, when she went to bed...

The athlete sounds shattered and exhausted.

9:37 - OP says Reeva would have opened bathroom window before going into toilet.

9:36 - Judge will give answer on postponement on Wednesday. Roux believes that if we resume on the 5 May, he will lead witnesses up to 16 May.

Nel starts cross-examining OP. 

9:35 - So the postponement, should the judge grant it, would be from Thursday 17 April to 5 May.

9:34 - Roux responds... At the start of the trial defence was informed of other matters state team must attend to. Roux backs Nel's request to Judge Masipa.

9:33 - Nel: "We will today finalise the cross-examination of the accused." Proposes adjourning this week and returning to court on 5 May (two days before the elections).

9:33 - Watch a summary of Monday's proceedings here:

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9:32 - Nel says there are preferential matters he and colleagues must deal with.

Nel: My colleague has a matter that she has to deal with... I think we have used court to the maximum.

9:31 - Court resumes. Nel wants to bring an application to postpone trial later in the week. 

9:27 - The State has also indicated to the judge that it hopes to end Pistorius's cross-examination by lunch today (Tuesday), tweets eNCA reporter Karyn Maughan.The defence will then have another chance to question the athlete.

9:24 - An investigating officer has been seen arriving at court with an evidence bag containing the duvet that was in Pistorius's bedroom the night he shot Reeva, says Eyewitness News's Barry Bateman.

9:19 - DStv Premium, Extra, Compact and Compact Plus subscribers can watch exclusive programming on The Oscar Pistorius Trial - A Carte Blanche Channel 199.

9:12 - Pistorius " takes his seat (in court), bodyguards in tow", tweets OscarsTrial.

9:10 - Nel ended proceedings a few minutes early on Monday because he said he had a whole range of questions about the toilet door.

8:59 -  Court is expected to get underway in around 30 minutes. Seats in court are gradually being taken up, tweets a Sapa reporter.

8:51 - Frustrated with Pistorius's frequent crying in the witness box, Nel toughened his questioning on Monday and accused the Paralympic star of crocodile tears, writes Sapa.

"Mr Pistorius, you're not using your emotional state to escape, are you?" he said after the athlete broke down under questioning on one of several occasions on Monday.

"You're getting frustrated because your version is improbable and you're getting emotional," he said.

8:37 - Pistorius appears to have two defences and both seems to be failing, writes reporter Nastasya Tay on Yahoo! Sport.

"Isolated on the stand, and barely managing to keep his emotions in check, Pistorius's responses to Nel's non-chronological questioning were confused, at times hesitant, and seemingly ill-advised.

"Nel's questioning goes to the heart of the murder-accused's defence, which, under the weight of legal interpretation, appeared to crumble," writes Tay.

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

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