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Steenkamp Was In 'A Standing Position' When Shot - Ballistics Expert

posted 19 Mar 2014, 08:15 by Mpelembe   [ updated 19 Mar 2014, 08:16 ]

Reeva Steenkamp was in a standing position when shot the first time by Oscar Pistorius through a locked toilet door at his Pretoria home, a police ballistics expert tells court.

PRETORIA, SOUTH AFRICA (MARCH 19, 2014) (CARTE BLANCHE POOL)  Reeva Steenkamp was standing facing the door of the toilet when she was hit on the hip by the first of four bullets fired at her by boyfriend Oscar Pistorius, a ballistics expert told court on Wednesday (March 19).

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During his testimony at the Oscar Pistorius murder trial, Captain Christian Mangena said the shot broke her bone and made her fall on to a magazine rack inside the bathroom before being fatally wounded in the head.

"We look at the wounds sustained by the deceased. If it is two double taps she is in a standing position. I would expect both wounds to be here. The first double tap. If it's double tap, double tap. Then all the wounds would be here," Mangena told the court, indicating against his hips.

"On this position. There won't be any chance for the deceased to change position in that instance. It's impossible," he added.

Pistorius's defence team have argued that Steenkamp would have been killed instantly by the wound on her head and would have been able to scream or warn Pistorius she was in the toilet.

Defence lawyer Barry Roux argued the wounds on Steenkamp's back could have been inflicted by the magazine rack and not from bullet fragments as suggested by investigators. Roux said the defence counsel's own experts suggested the shots were fired in quick succession.

"So we don't have to believe the accused. We have a version by Dr. Stipp. Duf, duf, duf, quick succession, and he explained it as quick succession," said Roux.

But Mangena argued: "It can happen the duff, duf, duf. When referring to the second, the third and the fourth shots. But with the first shot what I can explain is between the first shot and the second shot there is a break."

Mangena also told the court how the wounds on the body and the bullet trajectories suggested Steenkamp was holding her hands over her head in a protective position.

Roux tried to discredit the theory of Steenkamp holding her head in a defensive position suggesting bone particles would have been found.

Roux repeated the defence's own experts would offer an alternative scenario of the speed with which the shots were fired.

"I will put to you and this is what the experts will say, in this short space of time it is not reliable to determine that the first... second shot missed her not the first shot miss," Roux told the court, adding: "What would have happened to these fragments, the bone fragments and the bullet fragments?"

The captain maintained that the direction of Steenkamp's bone fractions were inconsistent with the defence's theory.

"The bullet is turned to that direction, towards the back, now I can't expect the fragments to go opposite direction of the bullets. It's impossible," said Mangena.

Mangena also said his conclusion was that Pistorius was not wearing his prothesis legs at the time of the shooting.

Court proceedings on Wednesday included testimony by Lt. Colonel Van der Nest who said that the blood splatter on the scene was consistent with Steenkamp being wounded on the head whilst she was seated near the toilet.

"The pieces of broken hair in particulate in bone matter would follow in the direction of the projectile. With the cone direction of the force. So she must have sustained, received the wounds somewhere in front of the lid of the toilet," Van der Nest told the court.

Double-amputee Olympian Pistorius is on trial for the murder of girlfriend Steenkamp, who he shot dead through a locked toilet door at his Pretoria home on Valentine's Day last year.

The Paralympic gold medalist, known as the "Blade Runner" on account of his carbon-fiber prostheses, denies the murder charge, saying he shot Steenkamp in a tragic accident after mistaking her, through the door, for a night-time intruder.

If found guilty of murder, he faces at least 25 years behind bars.

The trial is set to resume on Monday (March 24).