Sunday, July 20, 2014

"Reeva couldn't possibly have screamed for help" - Oscar's defence

Text Via Daily Mail: Oscar Pistorius broke down in court today as his defence lawyer argued that Reeva Steenkamp was so badly brain damaged by the gunshot to her head she couldn't possibly have screamed for help.

Advocate Barry Roux made the claims in response to a neighbour's testimony that she heard a woman's screams after shots were fired on the night the model was killed.

He told the court: 'We will have experts state that there was serious brain damage after the shot to the head, that it would not have been possible for her to scream at all. 'With the head shot, she would have dropped down immediately.' The Paralympian was seen bent double in the dock, with his hands behind his head, as the court heard details of the bullets hitting Miss Steenkamp and the removal of fragments from her head during the post-mortem.

Prosecution lawyer Gerrie Nel interjected to say it was the last of four shots that struck Miss Steenkamp's head, the first two hitting her right side, the wall and her shoulder. Mr Roux's remarks came during fierce cross-examination of one of the state's key witnesses, Michell Burger, a university lecturer who lives near the athlete's Pretoria home. Ms Burger replied: 'As I said yesterday, I heard her voice just after the last shot. It could have been that it was at the last shot was fired.'

Mr Roux today sought to undercut her evidence further, suggesting that she was changing her story partly because she had not told police in a statement last year that she had heard screaming during the gunshots. Mr Roux argued that the screams she heard were in fact those of his devastated client after realising that he had mistakenly killed his girlfriend. He said: 'It was a stage of heightened anxiety. It was a pinnacle... It was him screaming, absolutely anxious.'

Mr Roux also grilled Ms Burger over the number of shots she heard - and whether they were gunshots at all. He suggested she may have mistaken the shots for the sound of Pistorius breaking the toilet door with a cricket bat after realising that Miss Steenkamp was inside. Ms Burger, who lives near Pistorius's home, rejected the assertion, saying the intervals between each shot were too quick to have been made by bat being swung against an object. Mr Roux was also sceptical that she could hear fear and anxiety in the voice of a woman in a toilet cubicle with a closed door.

'I will invite the state to go and do a test' to see if the sound would carry, Mr Roux said. Ms Burger stuck to her account, saying the area where she lives is tranquil and near a nature reserve, and that the windows of her house were open because there is no air conditioning. 'It's very quiet,' she said. 'Sound carries.' Prosecutor Mr Nel objected to Mr Roux's sometimes acerbic interrogation, saying it was repetitive. But Judge Masipa allowed the questioning to proceed and warned Ms Burger she would be 'in that witness box' for a lot longer unless she gave direct answers. 'You don't give an explanation,' Judge Masipa said. 'If the answer is yes, you say yes. If it's no, you say no. If you don't know, you say you don't know.'

Ms Burger later broke down in the witness box, wiping tears from her eyes with tissue, at the end of her cross-examination before being discharged. Pistorius again took lengthy notes during the witnesses's testimony with a black Mont Blanc pen and using an orange highlighter and sticky notes to mark certain passages. During adjournments, he huddled with his legal team. At one point, he removed a child’s small lunchbox from his briefcase to retrieve a can of fizzy juice and a wrapped snack.


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