AS IT HAPPENED - Pistorius on trial: Day 9

2014-03-13 09:02
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Oscar Pistorius in court - day 9

See the latest pictures from the North Gauteng High Court where Oscar Pistorius is on trial for the murder of Reeva Steenkamp.

Our coverage of Oscar Pistorius’s murder trial, which is now in its ninth day, continues here. Find Wednesday’s updates here.

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15:35 - And here endeth the updates. We'll be back tomorrow at 09:30. Cheers. 

15:23 - Barry Roux has come under criticism for his relentless cross-examination style. Criminal law expert William Booth weighs in. Watch.

15:02 - Two large bloodstains could be seen on the floor of the toilet.

15:00 - The last photo (shown today) shows the toilet. Court adjourned until Friday (tomorrow). Back at 09:30.

14:57 - Key in the door near the window. Close up shows the whole of the top half of door is off. Big gaping hole.

14:56 - The bathroom windows are frosted.

14:55 - Photo shows open window in bathroom. No burglar bars on window.

14:53 - Now we're shown a photo of the white cellphone.

14:52 - Photo 105 is a close-up of the gun. It was ready to fire. 

14:49 - Photo 104 shows the gun with the hammer pulled back. Blood next to the gun. There's a cellphone next to the gun. We thought there were three cellphones when we got to the scene but the cover had come off the one and it looked like there were two, says VR. Another white phone, not shown, was found.

14:48 - Latest photo shows lots of blood in the bathroom, the cricket bat and the towels.

14:47 - Photo 101 shows lots of blood and the cricket bat.

14:46 - Photo 100 shows bloodied towels and the cricket bat.

14:45 - Turn right, toward basin, see blood spatter on wall tiles next to basins.

14:45 - Jerusha Sukhdeo-Raath speaks to correspondent Sipho Hlongwane from the North Gauteng High Court about day 9's pre-lunch proceedings in the Oscar Pistorius trial. Watch here.

14:43 - OP looking up again. We're now on photo 97. This is a photo of the bath. There was blood and pieces of wood in the bath. A little bag (presumably a toiletry bag) is on the left of the bath.

14:41 - Latest photo shows bloodied towels on the floor of the bathroom. Splinters of wood as well. There was an empty cartridge too. 

14:40 - Now a photo at the entrance of the bathroom. Blood splatters on lower wall and ground. A bath can be seen in the corner.

14:38 - On the left would a clothing cupboard and there was a cartridge there, says VR. OP looks down again.

14:37 - Reeva's overnight bag shown on screen. Then a photo of the passage from the main bedroom to the bathroom.

14:36 - Picture shows where entrance to bathroom can be seen.

14:34 - Holster on bedside table on left side of OP bed.

14:32 - What I specifically remember is the sandals next to the bed and the overnight bag.

14:31 - Photo of jeans lying on the ground shown and of collection of watches.

14:29 - Fan on the left hand side of the hifi system (if facing the system) is a fan. VR says there were cellphones on top of the hifi system.

14:28 - Now another photo from the right hand side of the bed looking towards the TV. It's closer to the fan.

14:28 - Photo shown of gun magazine and holster. Another photo shows a close-up of the magazine. 

14:27 - Now looking at photo of the righthand side of the bed of facing it.

14:26 - Box of lefthand side of room of about eight wrist watches.

14:25 - After I arrived on the scene with Hilton Botha, no one else entered that scene.

14:24 - Now inside the bedroom. Looking in to the room we see the bed, a fan in front of the sliding door which exits onto the balcony. VR says balcony door open when he got to the scene. Curtain was open.

14:21 - Photo shows hole in bedroom door. No explanation yet. VR says he didn't pick up damage to entrance of main bedroom door. Damage near the bottom of the door and near the handle.

14:20 - Black object at entrance to bedroom is an air gun, says VR.

14:19 - Another photo shows entrance to main bedroom. VR points out more of the blood trail.

14:17 - Another photo shows a small room which leads to main room. Bloody marks here too.

14:16 - There's more blood splatter on the wall of passage near the spare bedroom.

14:15 - Another pic shown. Pointing out the door leading to a spare bedroom, says VR.He describes more bloody spots.

14:12 - VR explains view from landing at top of stairs, door immediately on right, room and towel cupboard door further on.

14:11 - Photos being shown on screen. Van Rensburg (VR) describes blood splatter at the top of staircase.

14:10 - Court resumes. Judge Masipa reminds Van Rensburg he's still under oath. 

14:06- Reeva's friend Desi Myers has returned to court after earlier warning of graphic images, says David Smith. Pistorius is back in the dock.

13:55 - Carte Blanche’s Derek Watts talk to experts about the Pistorius trial on Court News Of The Dayat 19:00 on Channel 199.

13:54 - All eyes are on the Pistorius family, but who are they? Find out more from journalists and the people closest to them.

13:44 - Debora Pattaalso tweeted this earlier: "Just been informed court will sit until 4 April - then a break for court recess until 11 April and then new dates set."

However, Jacaranda Newshas quoted the NPA as denying reports that thetrial is on the roll till 4 April. "If not completed, new dates will be set after 11 April," the NPA told the radio station.

13:27 -  "Prosecutor Andrea Johnson says the trial will run to 4 April - if evidence not completed," eNCA's Karyn Maughanhas tweeted.

13:08- "Pistorius gives me faint nod and 'all right', as he leaves dock, then stands with Roux studying toilet door, touching it with his left hand," says David Smith.

13:06 - "Pistorius stands, buttons jacket, flicks through notepad, folds blue handkerchief and puts it in breast pocket," describes David Smith in court.

13:02 - Court adjourns for lunch. Van Rensburg was describing the scene he came upon in OP's house while looking at photos from that night. We made our way up to the stairs towards the bathroom. They'll continue after the break.  

13:02 - Nel asks for lunch adjournment.

13:00 - Now we're at the top of the stairs, where there is a door which was locked. VR says he used a key to unlock it. Area above garage.

12:59 - Photo of "presumable blood stain spatter on rail of staircase". Out-of-focus glimpse beyond of living room shelf crowded with trophies.

12:58- Still looking at photos of stairs, VR is describing the blood splatters.

12:56- The translator is also translating the English. Into English.

12:55- VR says he can still remember the scene.

12:55 - Following the blood trail now, down the stairs, to the kitchen wall and entry hall. They're going up the stairs to bathroom.

12:54 - "A sense of rising dread/tension here as the photos move inexorably towards the bathroom," says the BBC's Andrew Hardingin court.

12:52 - VR now points out blood splatters on steps of staircase.

12:50 - OP "sits with head bowed, left hand over eyes", says David Smith.

12:49- Back to photo of stairs. Body of deceased lay left of stairs, says VR.

12:48- There were blood spatters on the tiles and the chairs, sats VR pointing to photo.

12:48 - Now a photo of the living room and splatters of blood on the seat.

12:46 - Next photo shows wooden door leading to the garage and a flight of stairs above.

12:44 -  Court is shown entrance to OP's residence, exterior lights are on.

12:43 - VR: I showed the body to Botha. Together we then followed the trail of blood up the stairs...

12:41 - VR ordered someone to control access to the scene. This was when Hilton Botha arrived. Botha was more knowledgeable in this sort of crime, says VR.

12:40 - At that stage I was unaware of where the "incident" had taken place, says officer.

12:38 - VR: OP Walked up and down in the kitchen. I then asked him to stand next to basin. He did so.

12:37 - OP told me he thought Reeva was an intruder and that he shot her, says VR.

12:35 - Stander told me she went to get plastic bags and towels to try and stop the bleeding - VR. 

12:32 - OP was bringing Reeva down the stairs, Stander told me, says VR. OP asked Stander to take his car and take Reeva to hospital. Clarisse Stander told VR OP asked her dad to take Steenkamp to hospital but he said they should call an ambulance.

12:31 - A white woman named Clarisse Stander was also in the house. She comforted OP. She's the daughter of estate manager.

12:30 - VR now back to Afrikaans. I immediately contacted forensics, mortuary, etc. Didn't contact them myself, gave the order. 

12:29 - Witness has now switched to English. I identified myself as a police officer as I was in civilian clothing.

12:28 - In the kitchen stood the accused, OP. He was very emotional. I asked him what happened. Roux has again corrected the interpreter.

12:26 - Paramedic showed me a head wound and wound on the right hand side of the waist. Wound on the right arm above the elbow. Wound on middle finger of left hand.

12:26 - Photo of body as VR found it shown on  court TV.

12:25 - Roux has just corrected the interpreter. OP is sitting with his head in his hands.

12:24- A paramedic approached me and she told me that the deceased had died when the paramedic arrived.

12:23- When I went into the house, on my left by the stairs, there was a body on the ground which was covered with towels. Blood could be seen, says VR.

12:22 - VR says there was a black Mini Cooper (presumably Reeva's car) and white BMW at the scene.

12:21- VR says he confirmed address of shooting incident. Constable accompanied him to address.

12:20 - Desi Myers has left court after warning about graphic images.

12:18 - While I was at the station, a complaint came in about a shooting in early hours of 14 February, says VR.

12:17 - VR says he was investigating an armed robbery on 13 February last year. He retired in December last year after 29 years of service.

12:16 - Van Rensburg (VR) elects to testify in Afrikaans.

12:15 - Images of Reeva Steenkamp's body will be shown. Warning to sensitive viewers.

12:14 - Court resumes. Witness sworn in. Mr van Rensburg.

12:14 - Judge making her way back to court.

12:09- "Pistorius spends adjournment up and down, either conferring deeply with lawyer or sitting in dock with sister Aimee comforting him," David Smithsays.

12:07 - Yep, that's the bucket. (Alet Pretorius, Media24)

12:06 - A photo of Pistorius in court earlier. That bit of green you're seeing behind him is a reflection of the bucket left next to him. (Alet Pretorius, Media24)

12:03 - Have you heard this? It's a rap parody of Barry Roux. Take a listen.

12:01 - DStv Premium, Extra, Compact & Compact Plus subscribers can stream Channel 199 on a PC or laptop at

11:57 - "Pistorius has to rise for judge's exit and wipes mouth with left hand. He then sits and bends over again and continues crying, reddening," tweets The Guardian's David Smith.

I imagine when Pistorius actually gets into the witness box, he's not going to have the easiest time...

11:55 - Nel's next witness is Colonel Van Rensburg.

11:54- A green bucket was seen in court but Crawford said a paper bag had been passed to him from his family.

11:52 - OP is retching again, says Alex Crawford. He's bent way over. Colonel Vermeulen is excused from the witness stand. Court adjourns.

11:51 - Photo of broken panel lying on bloody floor of the toilet is shown again.

11:49 - JV: Microscopic investigation wasn't necessary to determine the angles.

11:48 - Nel: Could you kick the door to scare someone? To make a noise?JV : It’s possible.

11:45 - JV says there's no timeline for mark.

11:44 - Nel moves onto the kicking "debate" JV had with Roux earlier. Nel asks if kicking could have happened before shots. JV can't say.

11:43 - Nel: You said bullet hole was there before panel was broken. JV: That's correct.

11:41 -  Nel says "if there'd been an unnatural position" the marks would have been similar, Vermeulen agrees.

11:41 - The judge and assessors just viewed close up the marks on the bat.

11:40 - JV says he still believes the angle he demonstrated to the court yesterday was the angle that the bat hit the door and OP was on his stumps.

11:39 - JV says there's a distinct mark on the side of the bat.

11:37 - That is the only the bat could have been in that position when it hit the door, says JV of second mark. Pointing to photo of himself holding bat to the door, JV says that is the angle of the bat when it hit the door.

11:36 - I still have the view that the angle I demonstrated to the court yesterday is the angle that the bat hit the door, says JV.

11:35 - JV says he couldn't pick up any damage to door handle.

11:35 - To hit the bat at the second mark would have been unnatural for you, to hit lower would have been MORE unnatural, says Nel to JV. He agrees.

11:33 - JV: If bat was used on door, there would be other indentations on door.

11:32 - Roux has no further questions for JV. Nel now questioning Vermeulen (JV). Nel says he'll deal with nine different issues. Starts with door... "above the marks, a piece is missing..."

11:31 - Roux asks JV to watch YouTube video.

11:30- JV explains that panels were kept in place with sellotape on 30 April. 

11:30 - Roux wants explanation about 30 April. About the door being assembled when JV had already got to OP's house.

11:29 - Court has resumed. 

11:15 - As Day 9 of the trial gets underway, watch the highlights clip from Day 8 at

11:10 - This is the video Roux is referring to:



11:04 - Court adjourns for tea.

11:02 - Roux asks about a YouTube video; one where cricket bat hit the door." JV says he didn't see it."

11:00 - Roux questions Vermeulen about the crime scene inventory…

10:57- Roux: If you were on your knees and hit with a bat with closed eyes what would happen. JV : I would replicate the mark

10:55 - JV asks about when photo was cut out. Photo of foot. Roux says it's not important to deal with.

10:54- Roux asks about Roger Dickson (or possibly Dixon), he was JV's commander. Roux asks if he's a competent person. JV says he is.

10:52 - JV is shown a picture of the sole of the prosthetic foot.

10:51- There was also a photo of OP's bloody prsthetics.

10:50 - Another photo of door is shown on the court TV. Photo shows bullet holes in the door.

10:48 - Roux says it would have been "fantastic" if JV had done a test on the mark on the panel. JV says it didn't appear to him to be a footprint mark. He also says he received prosthetics "without socks on it".

10:48 - JV says there are many possibilities as to how the third mark got onto the toilet door panel found on the floor.

10:46 - JV: I never said tampering. The piece of the panel could have been moved into the toilet in that position after the deceased was...

10:45- JV refers to blood smears on floor, which show piece of door must have been put there later.

10:43 - JV says if he kicked the door then tried to bash it with bat, he would have been in an uncomfort, unnatural position. 

10:39 - Roux sure is a catty one - He says to JV: I am testing how far you're prepared to consider version of accused. JV: As long as I'm not accused of accepting it...Roux responds: "Well, you could not be bothered..." in reference to JV's previous statement.

10:37 -  Roux tries to argue that OP had his prosthetics on when breaking down the door. JV disagrees

10:35 - Photo shows a messy scene: blood on the tiled floor, broken wooden pieces, one big panel. It's the panel with the prosthetic footprint on it, says Roux. Reeva's friends drop their heads, cover their mouths as bloody bathroom photos appear on screens, tweets City Press's Charl du Plessis.

10:33- Roux wants photographs screened. JV identifies door in photo. It's THE door how it would have been without the inside panels.

10:32 - JV: The prosthetic leg investigation did not have to be submitted, as agreed with investigating officer, it showed nothing. 

10:31- Debora Pattaechoes the feeling of many: "Right now this court proceeding is more wooden than the door we still have the pleasure of viewing."

10:28 - Back to the investigation diary. So much paperwork... 

10:28- Roux: No microscopic evidence in this file? JV: No.

10:26 - JV again mentions the "unnatural position".

10:24 - Roux: In your statement you say all photos were taken by Warrant Officer van Staten? Where is video or photos of positions you checked?

10:23 - JV explains investigation diary. He says it's not always used.

10:21 - I was in possession of cricket bat until 12 March, says JV.

10:20 - JV says he gave holster to police photographer.

10:18 - Holster and cricket bat at that stage not opened by me, says JV while going through evidence register. Says he received holster and cricket bat from another officer. Judge asks where he's reading from. He says he's not reading from anywhere. He sounds rather nervous. As has been pointed out before.

10:15 - JV explains his files to the judge - First one is first entry for this case, as they receive evidence at the lab. Says he didn't remove any documents before handing over.

10:14- Roux hands in to court Vermeulen's (JV) files that he had requested yesterday (Wednesday).

10:12 - Roux says it's very easy for OP to kick that high (to cause mark on door) while wearing prosthetics. JV simply says (more like mumbles) "OK." Roux says he'll show this to the court at a later stage.

10:11- JV: No evidence was presented to me that the mark was caused by prosthesis.

10:08 - JV says he ignored all marks that he couldn't link to the cricket bat. He says he examined damage on prosthetic leg but didn't know what caused it.

10:06- JV is stuttering and stammering as Roux pummels him with questions about his statement. Lots of "umm's" and "aaahh's". His voice is breaking too.

10:04 - JV says he only happened to read OP's version of events.

10:02 - JV says he didn't read Pistorius' version until much later.

10:01 - You said you're in service of the accused as much as the State, Roux says to JV. That's correct, officer says. But you didn't "bother" to look at any other marks, says Roux.

9:59- Roux asks for some clarity from JV. He says that part of putting the door up is assembling the door (lose panels)

9:57 - Roux going over what JV said yesterday. "This played over and over in my mind last night," says JV of what he said yesterday about putting up the door at OP's house. 

9:56 - JV says he didn't physically help put up door at OP's house. He said yesterday: “So when we put up the door… on 30 April…"

9:55 - Roux: One thing we know is you assisted putting up door. JV: At the house yes. Roux is talking about 30 April.

9:52 - JV says only yesterday he saw the photo of a body bag, wooden splinters on it, next to or between shelves in lab.

9:51 - Roux withdraws question after objection from Nel. Now onto photo of body bag.

9:50 - "This is such a drubbing of Vermeulen, it's like watching a blood sport," reckons Sky News's Alex Crawford

9:48 - Roux: Common sense would dictate" that you asked, "Where are the missing pieces?" and the captain would say, "There they are". JV: I really cannot say any more on this, my lady.

9:45 - My lady, I said a lot yesterday, says JV.

9:43 - JV appears to be a little uncomfortable.  

9:41 - JV confirms he asked about missing pieces - but cannot say who he asked. Roux asks again who JV spoke to about missing pieces. He repeats he can't remember. Dealing with conversation on 30 April last year.

9:39 - Roux wants to know how far JV went to find the missing pieces. He says he was confident he could explain bat marks.

9:39 - Roux: You took some steps to locate wooden pieces (left on the floor)? JV: I could not determine their location.

9:37- Roux: Will you accept that when you examine tool marks - a microscopical examination is also done? JV: I never claimed I am a tool marking expert.

9:36 - JV goes through qualifications. He did a week-long course with the FBI.

9:34 - Roux wants to know about JV's qualifications in trace analysis.

9:32 - JV says he has trace analysis experience but doesn't work in that specific department.

9:32- Roux asks for Vermeulen's (JV) telephone records for Wednesday night and this morning. JV agrees to give records.

9:31 - And we're back. 

9:26- Roux asked Vermeulen on Wednesday to bring documents to support his credentials and expertise in examining marks on wood. Vermeulen is ready to go in the witness box.

9:19- The toilet door is still in court. The door is crucial evidence in the case and apparently inspiration for poetry too:

9:10- The legal teams are all there, the accused is in the dock, and his uncle, Arnold Pistorius, is chatting to journalists in the row behind him.

Meanwhile, according to figures by media monitoring group Data Driven Insight (DDI), people were likely to use the word “guilty” more than “innocent” in reference to the Oscar Pistorius murder trial.

"The public and media are now likely to use the word “guilty” eight times more than “innocent” in media coverage about the Pistorius case," said DDI spokesperson Tonya Khoury on Wednesday.

"We took the measurement of the trial and put 'guilty' to measure what kind of feedback it would generate."

Their guilt monitor saw about 8.43% of the world media go with “guilty” while 1.14% of all media worldwide went with “innocent”.

9:04- The Paralympian has arrived:

8:59- The State’s weakest moments in the trial of Oscar Pistorius were shown on Wednesday when forensic analyst Colonel Johannes Vermeulen testified, News24's Sipho Hlongwane wrote.

Vermeulen's job would have been to examine the cricket bat and the door that the athlete bashed through to get to his dying girlfriend Reeva Steenkamp after he shot her last year on the morning of Valentine’s Day.

He specialises in materials analysis, but found himself having to answer for the fact that there are strong signs that the evidence was handled incorrectly.

It raises the spectre of police incompetence that has sunken so many cases before.

Barry Roux, Pistorius’s lead defence advocate, challenged Vermeulen on two points: That he didn’t gather the evidence properly, and that it was tampered with after it was taken into police custody.

8:50 - The media is ready to go...

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

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