Ballistics and Screams Threaten Oscar Pistorius Defense


"In South Africa, you first have to pass a competency test. In this test, certain scenarios are given to you when you shoot or not. If your life is not in immediate danger, you cannot shoot. Oscar shot through a closed door, without ascertaining if there was danger or who was behind the door," Smith said.

"Even if he can by some miracle get past the first shot, he should have stopped shooting after his first shot when he heard the scream. And why did he fire two or three more shots into a closed door? That is not the actions of a reasonable man," Smith said.


A "double tap" is when two rounds are fired off in quick succession. The defence suggested to Captain Mangena that Pistorius fired two sets of rapid shots - a theory he first raised in his bail application affidavit last year. Mangena told the court the location of the wounds prove this theory as impossible, because if two shots were fired in quick succession, there would have been two wounds in the hip or waist area.

As Oscar Pistorius' legal team consult with witnesses not previously available to them - because they were on the State's witness list - legal experts say the Olympic athlete does have a case to answer when he goes back to the High Court in Pretoria on Friday.

Prosecutor Gerrie Nel ended the State's case yesterday after calling only 21 of the 107 people earmarked to testify - indicating that he is confident he's brought enough evidence before the court to secure a conviction.

Pistorius is charged with murdering his girlfriend, Reeva Steenkamp in a pre-dawn shooting at his home on Valentine's Day last year. he also faces three other firearms related charges. The minimum prescribed sentence for murder in South Africa is life behind bars - which in effect translates to 25 years imprisonment.

Although his lawyers have confirmed that Pistorius will testify in his own defence, it remains unclear whether this will happen when the case resumes on Friday, with one defence advocate - who is not involved in the case - saying it would be a "tactical error" for Pistorius to start his evidence before the weekend as it would give Nel more time to prepare his cross examination.

Attorney Anton Smith says of the witnesses called to testify, four elements stand out as a basis for the State's case: the ballistics, Pistorius' knowledge of South African gun laws, the pathologist's report and five neighbours who all testified about hearing a woman screaming before the gunshots.

"According to me, the most important witness for the State was ballistic expert Captain Chris Mangena who testified about the succession of shots and where those shots hit. What is important about this, is that the "double-tap" theory of the defence was shot down. He demonstrated what a double-tap is, and if Pistorius did do a double tap, both shots would have hit her around the waist area, where the first shot was."

Smith says Mangena's evidence was supported by the findings of Professor Gert Saayman, the pathologist who performed the autopsy on Steenkamp's body. Both experts were of the opinion that the first wound Steenkamp sustained was in the hip, followed by two other wounds - one in the right arm above the elbow, the other to the right side of her head - although neither could determine the order of the last two wounds.

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