A South African forensics expert has swung a cricket bat at a toilet door erected in the courtroom at Oscar Pistorius’ murder trial in Pretoria to demonstrate key pieces of evidence.
Oscar Pistorius, 27, says he mistakenly shot his girlfriend Reeva Steenkamp through the door, believing she was a burglar, then broke it down with the bat.
The prosecution says the Paralympic champion tried to beat down the door and then fired the gun.
Oscar Pistorius denies intentionally killing Reeva Steenkamp on February 14, 2013.
Forensic expert Police Colonel Johan Vermeulen also said he thought Oscar Pistorius had hit the door with the bat from a low angle, indicating he was not wearing his prosthetic legs at the time.
This contradicts the athlete’s claim that he had been wearing his artificial limbs.
Correspondents say whether or not Oscar Pistorius was on his prosthetic limbs is important because it could match parts of his story that he accidentally shot Reeva Steenkamp, or expose inconsistencies in it.
The damaged toilet door, with four bullet holes, was examined in the courtroom along with a replica of the toilet cubicle.
The forensics expert has swung a cricket bat at a toilet door erected in the courtroom at Oscar Pistorius’ murder trial
Forensic evidence on the location from which shots were fired, how they were grouped and their trajectory were presented to the court on Wednesday.
Cross-examining, Oscar Pistorius’ defense team asked forensic expert Col. Johan Vermeulen to kneel and lift his feet, which caused him to wobble.
The defense team claimed that Oscar Pistorius therefore would not have been able to balance on his stumps and break down the door using a cricket bat.
Defense lawyer Barry Roux also alleged that police had contaminated the crime scene by stepping on the door.
Col. Johan Vermeulen argued that if Oscar Pistorius was balanced enough to fire a gun, he could also break down a door with a bat.
The forensics expert argued that the angle and location of the marks on the door suggested that they had been caused by someone much shorter than him.
The defense team argued that a mark on the bottom of the door showed where Oscar Pistorius had tried to kick open the door using his prosthetic legs. Col. Johan Vermeulen agreed that this was possible.
“The marks on the door are actually consistent with him not having his legs on and I suspect they must be similar to the height that he was when he fired the shots,” he told the court.
The prosecution argues that Oscar Pistorius hit the door with the cricket bat before the shots were fired, but the defense claims it was the other way round.
The trial is now halfway through its second week.
Earlier on Wednesday, a friend of Oscar Pistorius, Darren Fresco, claimed that the athlete had driven at 124mph and that he had taken a picture of the speedometer to prove it.
The defense team alleged that Darren Fresco was himself driving at the time and had therefore fabricated evidence.
On Tuesday, Oscar Pistorius’ defense team questioned a pathologist’s finding that Reeva Steenkamp had eaten less than two hours before he killed her.
This contradicts Oscar Pistorius’ account that the pair had been in bed for several hours before the shooting.
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South African police believe that Paralympic athlete Oscar Pistorius may have beaten his girlfriend Reeva Steenkamp with a cricket bat before shooting her.
Detectives are reported to have recovered a bloodied bat from Oscar Pistorius’ bedroom and to have established that model Reeva Steenkamp’s skull had been “crushed”.
This and other evidence – a smashed bathroom door, a 9 mm pistol, the peculiar pattern of wounds on the body and reports of a row earlier in the evening – is said to have led them to believe the murder case against the sprinter is “rock solid”.
Reeva Steenkamp, 29, was shot four times early on Thursday at Oscar Pistorius’ luxury mansion in a secure housing estate on the outskirts of Pretoria.
Police have rubbished speculation that Oscar Pistorius – who is known to have kept a pistol by his bed and a machine gun at his bedroom window – may have mistaken his girlfriend of three months for an intruder.
Prosecutors have formally charged Oscar Pistorius with premeditated murder but the Blade Runner’s family say he firmly denies such a charge.
Yesterday it emerged that he called his close friend Justin Divaris shortly after the killing – reportedly before the emergency services were alerted – and told him: “There has been a terrible accident, I shot Reeva.”
Justin Divaris rushed to the sportsman’s house, where he said Oscar Pistorius repeatedly told him: “My baba, I’ve killed my baba. God take me away.”
While no officials would comment publicly on the case, a disturbing – though disputed – picture of what may have happened in Oscar Pistorius’ home started to emerge.
Neighbors have said they heard shouting coming from the house at around 1.30 a.m. There were some suggestions, quickly denied, that the row may have been about Reeva Steenkamp’s friendship with a rugby player.
At around 3.20 a.m., four shots rang out – apparently not all at once. The first person Oscar Pistorius called was his father Henke, 59.
When Henke Pistorius arrived, he allegedly saw his son carrying his nightie-clad girlfriend down the stairs.
She had been shot in the head, hip, arm and hand. Pistorius – and later paramedics – struggled in vain to save Reeva Steenkamp’s life.
Police reportedly found the bloodied cricket bat in the bedroom. The en-suite bathroom door was riddled with holes, a pistol holster was found by oscar Pistorius’ bed and a gun cartridge was on the floor.
South Africa’s City Press quoted an unnamed police source as saying: “The suspicion is that the first shot, in the bedroom, hit her in the hip. She then ran and locked herself in the toilet.
“She was doubled over because of the pain. He fired three more shots. She probably covered her head, which is why the bullet also went through her hand.”
South African police believe that Oscar Pistorius may have beaten his girlfriend Reeva Steenkamp with a cricket bat before shooting her
The source said police are carrying out tests to establish whose blood is on the bat.
While one scenario is that Oscar Pistorius attacked Reeva Steenkamp with the wooden bat, it has also been claimed that the model may have used it to defend herself.
A third possibility is that Oscar Pistorius used it to break down the bathroom door. Those close to Oscar Pistorius have suggested that he may done so in a bid to “save” his dying girlfriend.
According to this theory, the athlete first shot Reeva Steenkamp by accident, whereupon she fled to the bathroom. He then shot at the door lock to try to get in, accidentally killing her.
Oscar Pistorius’ father appeared to suggest it is this version that he believes.
While he admitted that he had not talked to his son in detail about what happened, he said he had “zero doubt” that the sportsman thought Reeva Steenkamp was an intruder.
A more likely defence from Oscar Pistorius is to acknowledge that there was a row but that he did not intend to kill her.
Some in South Africa have speculated about the nature of Reeva Steenkamp’s friendship with Springbok rugby player Francois Hougaard, and whether this played a part in the tragedy.
Francois Hougaard, 24, was keen to distance himself from such reports at the weekend. His agent said: “This whole sad ordeal has got nothing to do with him.”
Last night Oscar Pistorius’ agent said he had withdrawn him from all planned races but insisted his sponsors were sticking by him.
The tragedy has also cast fresh light on Oscar Pistorius’ apparent attraction to danger and weaponry.
As well as owning a pistol and machine gun, at the time of Reeva Steenkamp’s death he reportedly had seven outstanding firearm licence applications.
One was for same type of assault rifle used in the recent Sandy Hook school massacre in the US.
Oscar Pistorius, who was charged with premeditated murder at a court appearance on Friday, spent the weekend in a police cell ahead of a second hearing planned for tomorrow at which his lawyers are expected to ask for bail.
Police say they will oppose the request.