Oscar Pistorius trial, day 30 - as it happened

2014-05-12 09:01

Follow News24's highlights of day 30 in the Oscar Pistorius's murder trial.


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Last Updated at 17:59
Our live updates of Oscar Pistorius’s murder trial at the North Gauteng High Court, now in its 30th day, continues.

The cross-examination of ballistics expert Thomas "Wollie" Wolmarans is due to continue on Monday, Sapa reported.

15:06 - And that's where we'll close updates. We'll be back tomorrow with more at 09:00.

14:54 - Pistorius "told me state's demand to refer him for psychiatric evaluation was 'a joke' and that today's evidence went 'well' for him", tweets the BBC's Andrew Harding.

14:50 - People with generalised anxiety disorder experience more than day-to-day anxiety. Worries are excessive, unrealistic, chronic and relentless. Read more on Health24 here.

14:41 - Pistorius is sitting in the dock with a laptop on his knees, tweets The Guardian's David Smith.

14:37 - Nel will work out his remaining cross-exam questions and then return tomorrow. With more. 

14:34 - Court resumes. And then stops. Back tomorrow (Tuesday) at 09:30.

14:23 - Nel asks for 10 minute adjournment. Granted.

14:22 - Nel says he would be guided by court's decision to refer or not...but he doesn't want to waste court's time anymore.

14:21 - Roux: The witness is not saying he was delusional, saying the window was open when it was closed, saying he heard door slam when it open.

14:20 - Roux: "The witness is simply saying the court must take his condition into account depending on the facts."

14:18 - Roux wants Nel to finish his cross. Then we go to re-examination. And then application.

14:18 - Roux asks to re-examine Vorster.

14:17 - Nel: Mr Roux cannot change the view of his witness...you just have to read her report that GAD would have affected his actions.

Nel: All you need to do is read her report. She has answered: It could affect his defence. Judge: Why not let him re-examine?

14:14 - Roux: He can't bring application without allowing defence to ask questions.

14:13 - Vorster excuses witness for now (depending on what ruling Judge Masipa grants).

14:11 - Nel says now is a good time to adjourn and bring the application.

14:10 - MV says she had a report available from an industrial psychologist. I didn't have other records, she says.

14:10 - Nel asks whether MV had access to bail application or trial documents. She did not.

14:09 - MV again says OP is suffering from depression and is on treatment. "He often said he felt so guilty (about killing RS)."

14:08 -  I believed my report could be used by the court for any purpose...merit, conviction, sentencing, says MV.

14:05 - Someone with GAD, with a gun in hand, is a danger, Nel asks. MV agrees.

Vorster says OP showed “dolus eventualis”. In SA law, it's a form of intent for murder.

14:04 - Vorster: He has no choice but to fight cos can't get away. Nel: He armed himself, went towards danger. He could have escaped.

14:03 - Nel if a person with GAD has a fight response then he's more of a danger. Vorster - not my evidence.

14:02 - Nel: the fact that he suffered from GAD, was anxious...did you follow evidence of him not checking on Reeva?

Nel: You put it better than me when you said, "more likely to respond with a fight response than a flight response."

14:00 - MV agrees with Nel that by arming himself and approaching the danger he must have foreseen the possibility to shoot. 

14:00 - MV: there's no doubt that this is not a defence of 'automatism'...this is not in category of those conditions.

14:00 - MV: "There's no history that he gave of any emotional stress following an argument or anything in that line."

13:57 - Nel: Is it possible that someone who killed his partner could immediately afterwards feel deep remorse? Vorster: Yes.

Nel asks something that he asked OP: Did he ever say 'I'm sorry that I killed her?'

MV says OP feels guilty that he caused RS's death.

13:55 - Nel: "My lady, this will be my argument... I feel strongly... I'm sure it wasn't Mr Roux's intention to have his client referred."

13:54 - Nel: The court must appreciate the ability of the accused to act in line with the law.

13:51 - Nel reading the case law to support his application - that the court shall refer the accused for observation.

So this trial may carry for who knows how much longer. Months...

13:50 -  MV: it depends what offence is - if he was afraid there was an intruder, having GAD (general anxiety disorder) would affect way he reacted to fear.

13:49 - Nel you said it was relevant for conviction? MV: yes. Nel: well, that's the end of the argument...

13:48 - MV: it is clear that OP has a psychiatric illness. He knows difference between right and wrong... but his ability to act on that may have been affected by his anxiety.

13:46 - Nel wants to know if general anxiety disorder could impact on OP's ability to tell right from wrong. She pauses… No.

13:45 - Roux: Witness was clear about OP knowing right from wrong. He says the State is elevating the evidence

13:45 - Nel is arguing that general anxiety disorder is a mental disorder.

13:43 - Judge asks Nel if he's arguing the anxiety disorder falls under definition of a mental illness.He says "yes", she replies:"I think that too."

13:41 - Roux says it must be an allegation... Nel says it's more than an allegation, the psychiatrist has made a finding, a diagnosis.

13:38 - Nel says post-traumatic stress disorder patients are referred for evaluation, and anxiety disorders fall in the same category.

13:36 - Nel's phone goes off in court. He begs forgiveness. "Don't promise it won't happen again, it might just," judge says sternly.

13:35 - Nel says this is argument on an application that he hasn't even brought yet.

13:34 - Roux objects: mental illness or mental defect which makes them "incapable of appreciating the wrongfulness of his/her act".

13:33 - Nel says the court doesn’t really have an option in that the Act says the accused will be referred for observation. Roux says he doesn't agree...

13:32 - Nel asks if because of this disorder people are a danger to society, Vorster says yes.

13:30 - Vorster says OP anxiety disorder is "increasing in intensity."

13:29 - Nel: Those (psychiatric factors) may have affected his capacity to act? Vorster: Yes the court may decide on that

13:27 - MV says the purpose of her report is to bring psychiatric factors of relevance to the court.

13:27 - 5th May MV interviewed sister, brother and coach of OP. 7 May she interviewed the athlete again.

13:25 - MV 1st interview with OP was only on May 2 - after he’d finished his testimony.

13:23 - Nel asks if MV followed the trial in the media. She says sometimes she did. He asks if she followed OP's testimony.He recalls OP saying that he's "fighting for his life" when he was testifying. MV says OP didn't ever say that to her.

13:23 - Court resumes. 

13:12 - Watch forensic and ballistic expert, Cobus Steyl, join Devi Sankaree Govender in studio to discuss Reeva Steenkamp's injuries:

12:51 - Mandy Wiener tweets: "Remember when Oscar sort of changed his defence during his testimony from Putative Self Defence to Automatism. We're back there now."

What do you think? Tell us in the comments section below.

12:30 - Pistorius arriving at court this morning:

12:14 - Nel asks for adjournment until 13.30 to go over report. Granted.

12:14 - Nel: We have a diagnosis relevant to specific facts. Vorster: Yes.

12:12 - MV says she's bringing to courts attention how someone with anxiety disorder would react to events of shooting.

12:11 - Mental disorders affect one’s capacity to see right from wrong, don't believe OP suffers from that, MV says.

12:09 - Nel: but you were called by the defence and you linked this disorder to the incident.

12:08 - MV says the psychiatric diagnosis is not the same as a mental illness, "I'm not saying he had a delusion about intruders". She says generalised anxiety disorders are not uncommon.

12:07 - MV: doesn’t consider anxiety disorder a mental illness.

12:06 - Nel reads the law - if in criminal proceedings a mental defect is identified, the court shall order the accused be observed.

12:04 - Nel argues that if defence arguing that OP has diminished capacity because of anxiety, he should have been evaluated.

12:02 - I don't know, says MV.

12:01 - MV says while considering the events of the offence (Reeva's death at OP's hands), one must consider OP's circumstances. What makes OP different from other offenders is that he has a physical vulnerability and anxiety disorder which would make his reactions different. This doesn't mean he has a mental illness.

So why is this evidence necessary, asks Nel.

12:00 - Nel starts with the anxiety disorder. Did it affect OP's ability to understand difference between right and wrong? No, says MV. Then I don't udnerstand what we're saying, says Nel.

12:00 - Roux concludes. Nel starts.

11:59 - OP is remorseful. He feels guilty that he caused RS's death, says MV.

11:58 - In my opinion OP's reaction to the perceived threat on night of incident should be considered in light of his disability.

11:58 - OP feared his former friend Mark Batchelor posed physical threat... anxiety compounded by his disability, says Vorster.

11:57 - MV says that safety measures OP instituted in his home appear to be out of proportion with those of gen SA society

11:55 - Vorster sees root of OP's anxiety at 11 months when his legs were amputated, increased by divorce, mother's death.

11:54 - OP has been depressed since the shooting. Didn't find any evidence that he was prior to the shooting.

11:53 - Frequently expressed guilt at having caused RS's death, says MV of OP.

11:51 - Depression can affect memory and concentration but none found in OP during consultation. OP asked to move prosthesis, he was embarrassed but complied. His balance was bad.

11:50 - His mood was markedly flat and depressed, says MV. He's on treatment for depression. His memory was good. No intellectual incapacity.

11:49 - What OP showed when I was examining him was a palor, he would get sweaty, etc. I think this showed he was genuinely traumatised by shooting. 

11:49 - OP was distressed, crying and retching after shooting. He had no intention of killing RS. MV believes this was genuine.

11:48 - As one gets anxious one gets more insecure about one’s personal safety, even though really safe- MV. Overall he's a distrustful and guarded person. He drinks excessively at times when he's not competing.

11:46 - Vorster: OP would follow SA news while overseas, worried about his sister's safety. He moved into a housing estate believing it would be safer.

11:45 - MV: the effort he had to make to keep his anxiety under control increased, he had to prepare more for high profile events

11:44 - OP would shy away from relationships because he was scared of showing stumps, says MV.

11:42 - OP became increasingly unwilling to show stumps in public and he developed feelings of inadequacy. Roux asks how this could be given that he was often seen on TV. MV says it relates specifically to his stumps.

11:41 - MV mentions boating accident in 2009. She says OP has many features of anxiety. She says others in family do too.

11:41 - Court resumes. MV still speaks from her report.

11:34 - According to the UK's NHS website, Generalised Anxiety Disorders affect one in every 25 people, tweets the UK Telegraph's Aislinn Laing. Read more here.

11:21 - People with anxiety disorder try to bring order to their lives to control their anxiety, says MV.

11:17 - Roux asks for tea adjournment. Granted.

11:16 - MV says OP has an anxiety disorder. His strict training regime helped him alleviate levels of anxiety.

11:14 - Broke all ties with father at age 21. Was supporting himself financially at this point. He spoke extensively about crime fears and thus bought a gun and added security features to home.

OP looks down, unmoved, as MV goes over the details of his life.

11:12 - MV repeating much of what OP saidwhen he testified. She says OP was significantly traumatised by death of his mother when he was 15 and this added to his anxiety

11:12 - MV says OP appeared to be a sociable child but was teased at primary school because of his disability.

11:10 - Carl was tasked with looking after younger siblings, MV says. Aimee looks straight ahead as MV describes her upbringing.

11:08 - She says OP was always encouraged to see himself as normal and not disabled. She says there could be related stress to always keeping up the effort of trying to appear normal. Says it appears his mother was his "primary attachment figure". From his description, his father was often absent. It appears his mother abused alcohol. Effects on kids was that they had anxiety.  They were reared to see the external environment as threatening. 

11:08 - MV also worked at Sterkfontein Hospital where criminally insane types went.

11:05 - MV speaks from her report. She assessed OP and spoke to his friends and family. This includes his coach, his brother, Carl, his friend Justin Devaris, among others. 

11:04 - Vorster is familiar with courtrooms - she testified in the Jub Jub case. 

11:02 - Vorster (MV) hands CV to court. She lists qualifications. She's a registered forensic psychiatrist. MV says she was previously a psychiatrist at state hospital.

10:58 - Witness sworn in. Dr Merryl Vorster (will double check spelling). Yes, it's Vorster. She's a specialist psychiatrist.

10:57 - Roux asks for short adjournment, not sure where witness is. Judge says: Well, someone has just come in... 

10:55 - Roux concludes with re-examination of TW. TW excused. Next witness is a doctor. 

TW earlier said he disagrees with the state's ricocheting bullet theory, a key part of defence case because it casts doubt on the state's evidence

10:55 - The Oscar Pistorius Trial – A Carte Blanche Channel offers DStv Premium, Extra, Compact and Compact Plus subscribers exclusive programming on Channel 199.

10:53 - 

10:52 - TW: It must come back & bounce 2 times on the back. Its not possible. (This is Mangena's version.)

10:52 - Roux: the evidence is that striations are upward, how would it travel upward? TW says it's not possible...

10:50 - Roux asks whether he sees any evidence in Mangena's report of testing other holes lining up... He asks TW to consider 2 scenarios regarding the bullet's energy.

10:49 - Roux says he asked someone to sit on the rack during the adjournment.

10:48 - Court resumes. Roux questions TW. He asks TW if Mangena factored in deflection during his tests. He says no.

10:40 - EWN reporter, Mandy Wiener reckons: "Nel clearly has considerably respect for Wolmarans who is very experienced, was cop for many years. Not as combative in cross-exam."

10:35 - Nel asks about photo handed in by Roger Dixon, photo JJJ 247. What is it, Nel asks. TW says it looks like bullet holes. When and why was it taken, Nel asks. TW "really can't remember".

And that's it, Nel's done with TW. Roux asks for 15 minute adjournment. Granted.

10:33 - Nel goes over TW's CV. He left the police in 1992 and practising as a private forensic consultant since then. Haven't done any proficiency tests, not necessary, unlike police who have to do it annually.

10:32 - TW says he went back to the scene about three weeks ago. To test what he could see when the balcony light was on. TW says only he and Frank, the housekeeper, was there.

10:32 - TW says he has been back to the crime scene on several occasions.

10:31 - TW says no one asked him to do toilet sound test. "I just did it"

10:30 - Wolmarans: This was earlier this year at OP's house. He just did the shouting, didn't do sound tests. A friend came to help.

10:29 - Wolmarans shouted 'Christo' to see what could be heard, but it wasn't an official test, he's not a sound expert.

10:27 - Nel listing all the dates Wolmarans visited the scene.

10:26 - 

10:24 - TW says he can't remember when he went back to the crime scene, except for on 8 November.

10:24 - TW says he "visited" the crime scene, took a few photos that were of no value except some of blood splatter.

10:23 - TW: I didn't know where rack was standing. Nel: you had Mangena's report, why didn't you pay attention to it?

10:22 - Nel arguing that the magazine rack was there, why not use it in the reconstruction.

10:20 - TW says he doesn't want to make excuses but he didn't have much time on the scene. If he had more time he might have considered positioning of the rack. If I had a week to reconstruct the crime scene it would have been something else, he says.

He stumbles over his words. Lots of um's...

10:18 - TW: There was an abrasion on RS's back... Does it really matter where the rack was? We know there was an abrasion on her back?Nel says if detail had been taken into account when doing reconstruction care would have been given to where the rack was.

10:16 - Nel is concerned that TW would conduct the reconstruction but not take the magazine rack into consideration.

10:14 - TW explains why he believes the magazine rack was located next to the toilet - there was a mark left in the blood.

10:12 - TW says no one gave him a version of where the magazine rack was when he went to do reconstruction.

10:11 - Nel asks about reconstruction of scene and position of magazine rack. TW says magazine rack was in different position when he arrived at scene.

10:11 - Nel: if we move the laser and we get it to shine through C, that would affect angle of the others? TW: yes.

10:08 - So doesn't it make sense that RS was sitting on the magazine rack, Nel asks. TW believes that because of the hip wound she would not have been able to sit on the magazine rack.

10:08 - Nel: she would not have been able to support herself on her haunches because of the hip wound. She must have been on something.

10:06 - Judge: if you say 'sitting' do you mean 'lying on the floor'. Nel: sitting with her bum flat on the floor...

10:05 - 

10:04 -  The expert and Nel are now going through the measurements of bullet heights.

10:03 - Nel: the deceased could not have fallen flat on the floor, because we have to take into account the arm and heard wound. TW agrees that Reeva (RS) did not fall straight down.

10:00 - Nel on bullet B: Could it have missed if there was no deflection through the door? TW: It's a possibility.

9:59 - TW: Reeva was standing upright in front of the door.

9:58 - I can't dispute that we had a discussion on the case... a discussion in general, can't remember what it was all about, TW says.

9:56 - Wolmarans (on his meeting with Roger Dixon) tells court that he wanted pork chops at Jock's - but they weren't available. He and Dixon ate T-bone steaks. 

It must have been some pork chop to be so memorable...

9:56 - Nel: remember on Friday I asked if you'd met Dixon after his testimony. TW says yes, after he testified.

9:54 - TW says he does not see how the magazine rack, with it's smooth surface would have cause the striations on Reeva's back.

9:54 - Nel: Dixon thought the pic was of a splinter test. TW: Well, that just proves he’s not a ballistics expert.

9:53 - Nel has just put it to TW that he's contradicting Dixon.

9:52 - TW is shown a photo of paper with a bullet hole through it, he confirms it is a gunshot residue test.

9:52 - Nel: But surely background noises should be the same for shots and bat sounds? TW emphasises: I'm not a sound expert.

9:50 - TW repeats exasperatingly that he's not a sound expert.

9:49 - Nel: Why didn't you repeat the tests on the second night? TW: The door was already broken to pieces, there was no other door.

9:48 - Nel: before we conducted the tests for a second time people commented that there were crickets or frogs in the background.

9:47 - TW says when he was on the shooting range he couldn't hear the bat sound. His ears "aren't on that frequency" (I'm guessing he means his hearing isn't that good).

9:46 - Nel: Why was there a long time delay between tests? TW: I can't say for sure why.

9:45 - TW says it had nothing to do with background noise that they had to repeat the test.

9:44 - Nel asks about experiment with the gun and cricket bat at the shooting range. Wants to know why a second test was done. TW says the first gun he used was in his view "not friendly" with that type of ammunition, he couldn't fire rapidly, just one at a time. 

9:43 - TW agrees that without moving position of laser it wouldn't be possible to line up mark on the wall with holes A C or D.

9:42 - TW says he was happy with the state reconstruction of where OP gun was at time of shooting.

9:40 - TW accepts that based on Mangena’s findings the accused was on his stumps and in the normal firing position.

9:39 - Nel points out that OP never states where he was standing in his bail application.

9:38 - Nel: how did you know where the accused was standing in your reconstruction? TW says he used Mangena’s finding.

9:38 - TW says he read through the accused's bail statement, but he wasn't present in court at all times during bail application

9:37 - TW says he didn't get OP's version when he was at the scene on Nov 14 last year.

9:36 - TW says he's sure he had Mangena's reconstruction scene report.

Aimee Pistorius, OP's sister, is back at court. She skipped at least one day last week.

9:35 - Nel asks whether there is any other report besides the one filed in court. TW  says he has a file of notes.

9:34 - Nel and Wolmarans discuss Wolmarans's (TW) photos that they have looked at in the meantime.

9:34 - Court has resumed. Gerrie Nel questioning Wolmarans.  

9:29 - Pistorius's (OP) coach, Ampie Louw, is at court, say reporters there. OP has also just walked into court. 

9:25 - The trial "is about to get underway. Mangena has setup his laser pointer again - the beam through hole B," tweets EWN reporter Barry Bateman.

9:12 - Daily Maverick reporter Rebecca Davis tweeted earlier: "Lawyer Ulrich Roux on Channel 199 (Oscar Trial Channel) says something I didn't know: that if Judge Masipa and her assessors disagree on verdict, they can overrule her."

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