Oscar Pistorius Could Take the Stand This Week
Prosecution expected to wrap up its case with 4 or 5 final witnesses.
PRETORIA, South Africa March 23, 2014 — -- The prosecution of Oscar Pistorius is expected to conclude shortly after court resumes Monday, clearing the way for the star witness -- Pistorius -- to take the stand.
Pistorius' lawyer Barry Roux has made it clear that the legless paralympian would testify, and he has indicated that Pistorius could very well be his lead-off witness and that Pistorius' testimony would form the basis the of the defense's approach.
The trial, which is expected to last until mid May, has been in recess since Wednesday when prosecutor Gerrie Nel told the judge he wanted time to prepare the end of his case.
"We have reached a junction in the trial where the state is wrapping up its evidence. We must look at what the defense version force us to reexamine our case and our witnesses," Nel told the court.
Pistorius, 27, is charged with murdering his girlfriend Reeva Steenkamp, 29, on Valentine's Day 2013 by shooting her through his locked bathroom door. The Blade Runner has said he mistook her during the night for an intruder. If convicted he could face at least 25 years in prison.
Nel is trying to prove that Pistorius knew who was behind the locked door and that he fired four shots during a rage fueled argument with Steenkamp.
Roux's cross examination of prosecution witnesses gives some indication of how the defense will attack the evidence presented over the last three weeks.
One potential weakness in the state's case is the doubt Roux has tried to cast on the evidence heard so far about the alleged argument between Pistorius and Steenkamp.
Three neighbors have testified to hearing a woman screaming in the pre-dawn hours of Feb. 14, 2013, while a fourth neighbor said she heard a woman arguing.
Roux told the court he will call several experts to prove that these witnesses could not have heard Steenkamp scream much less hear an argument. The lawyer has also said he will present decibel level tests to prove that Pistorius screams in a high pitched voice when he is extremely anxious.
In addition, Roux suggested during his cross examinations that four sounds, which the neighbors all thought were gunshots, were actually thuds from a cricket bat as Pistorius tried to break through the locked door after realizing he had shot Steenkamp.
Nel may also try to minimize testimony that alleged the police bungled the investigation by improperly handling evidence, moving evidence around the crime scene, even allegedly stealing one and possibly two of Pistorius' expensive watches while in his house immediately after the shooting.
Once Nel has called his last witness, the defense could bring an application to have all the charges against Pistorius dismissed, arguing that the state had failed to prove the charges and that Pistorius has no case to answer.
Legal experts canvassed by ABC News are divided on the possibility of such an application and also on the likelihood that it would succeed. If it is brought, the court is not expected to make a credibility judgement about the State's case but would take it at face value. In this case, on his own version, Pistorius shot Steenkamp, making a discharge unlikely.
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