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Forensics examined in Pistorius case

Oscar Pistorius arrives at court 16th April

LIVE: Coverage of the murder trial of the South African athlete Oscar Pistorius

Forensics expert Roger Dixon is continuing to testify at Oscar Pistorius’ murder trial in South Africa’s capital, Pretoria.

He took the stand after the Olympic sprinter’s seven days of testimony came to an end with him reading a Valentine’s card from his girlfriend.

The athlete denies intentionally killing his Reeva Steenkamp in early hours of 14 February 2013.

He says he shot her in the toilet, mistaking her for an intruder.

The prosecution says the 29-year-old model and law graduate was deliberately killed after the couple had an argument.

The double amputee Paralympic athlete faces 25 years to life in prison if convicted of premeditated murder.

On Tuesday, Mr Dixon, who is a defence witness, told the court his tests showed that with the light out, Mr Pistorius’ bedroom would have been almost completely dark on the evening of the shooting, despite a couple of LED lights.

This supports Mr Pistorius’ evidence that he did not see whether Ms Steenkamp was still in bed when he got up

Valentine's day card from Reeva Steenkamp to Oscar Pistorius

Oscar Pistorius reads out the message in his Valentine card

The court also heard sound recordings Mr Dixon had made – of a cricket bat striking a door similar to that in Mr Pistorius’ toilet, and of gunshots fired through same door.

Mr Dixon seemed to struggle to tell the sounds apart, which the BBC’s Pumza Fihlani in Pretoria says the defence will use to cast doubt on what neighbours say they heard that night.

Prosecution witnesses have testified to hearing a woman scream followed by gun shots, but the defence disputes their testimony, saying the only scream came from Mr Pistorius – after he had fired.

At the start of proceedings on Wednesday, the judge agreed to an application to postpone the case after Thursday’s hearings until 5 May.

South African Paralympic track star Oscar Pistorius looks on during his trial at the North Gauteng High Court on 16 April 2014Oscar Pistorius spent seven gruelling days under cross-examination

Forensic expert Roger Dixon points at the door through which Reeva Steenkamp was shot, 15 April 2014Mr Dixon told the court that in his opinion the bullets were fired first then the cricket bat was used

A picture taken on 26 January 26 2013 shows Olympian sprinter Oscar Pistorius posing next to his girlfriend Reeva Steenkamp at Melrose Arch in JohannesburgOscar Pistorius and Reeva Steenkamp had been dating for three months

If Mr Pistorius is acquitted of murder, the court must consider an alternative charge of culpable homicide, for which he could receive about 15 years in prison.

He also faces charges of illegally firing a gun in public and of illegally possessing ammunition, both of which he denies.

There are no juries at trials in South Africa, and his fate will be decided by the judge, assisted by two assessors.

Mr Pistorius is known as the “Blade Runner” because of the carbon-fibre prosthetics he uses on the track.


3D impression of Pistorius house






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  • 1. Balcony



    Mr Pistorius said in his statement at the start of the trial that he woke in the early hours and walked on his stumps to the balcony, pulled in two fans, closed the sliding door and drew curtains. He said that shortly before he had spoken to Reeva, who was in bed beside him.

    He said he rejected prosecution claims that a witness heard arguing coming from the house before the shooting.

  • 2. Bathroom window


    Mr Pistorius said he heard the bathroom window sliding open and believed that an intruder, or intruders, had entered the bathroom through a window which was not fitted with burglar bars.

    “Unbeknown to me, Reeva must have gone to the toilet in the bathroom at the time I brought in the fans,” he said.

    Mr Pistorius said he approached the bathroom armed with his firearm, to defend himself and his girlfriend, believing Ms Steenkamp was still in bed.

  • 3. Shooting


    Both sides agree four bullets were fired. Ms Steenkamp was hit three times.

    Mr Pistorius said he fired his weapon after hearing a noise in the toilet which he thought was the intruder coming out of the toilet to attack him and Ms Steenkamp.

    He said he was in a fearful state, knowing he was on his stumps and unable to run away or properly defend himself.

    Mr Pistorius said he rejected claims that he was on his prostheses when he shot at the door.

    A witness told the trial she woke to hear a woman screaming and a man shouting for help. She said that after the screams she heard four shots.

  • 4. Bedroom


    Mr Pistorius said he went back to the bedroom after shooting at the toilet door, still shouting for Reeva. Lifting himself up onto the bed, he felt over to the right hand side of it and noticed Ms Steenkamp was not there.

    Mr Pistorius said this was when he realised she could have been in the toilet.

  • 5. Toilet door


    Mr Pistorius said he went back to the bathroom but the toilet was locked, so he returned to the bedroom, pulled on his prosthetic legs, turned on the lights before bashing in the toilet door with a cricket bat.

    Forensics expert Johannes Vermeulen told the court that the height of the marks on the door caused by the cricket bat suggest Mr Pistorius was on his stumps at the time.

  • 6. Emergency calls


    Mr Pistorius’s defence team say he then called security at the gated housing complex and a private paramedic service before carrying Ms Steenkamp downstairs.

    A security guard claimed it was the other way round, and he had called Mr Pistorius first after reports of gunfire. However, phone records shown to the court revealed Mr Pistorius called the estate manager at 3:19am, a minute later he called the ambulance service and at 3:21am he called estate security.

    A minute later he received an incoming call – estate security calling him back.

    According to police phone expert Francois Moller, Mr Pistorius called his friend Justin Divaris a short time later and just after 4:00am he called his brother Carl.

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