On day 13 of Oscar Pistorius trial in Pretoria, a key police ballistics expert has said the athlete was not wearing his prosthetic legs when he shot Reeva Steenkamp.
Correspondents say this lends support to the defense team’s insistence that the shooting was not premeditated.
Oscar Pistorius denies murdering Reeva Steenkamp on Valentine’s Day 2013, saying he thought she was an intruder.
The prosecution says the Paralympic champion intentionally shot Reeva Steenkamp after an argument.
Captain Christian Mangena said analysis of the crime scene and his subsequent tests suggested that Oscar Pistorius, 27, was not wearing the prostheses when he fired the fatal shots.
He also said that while he had not been able to determine the exact distance, the evidence pointed to the shots having been fired from a position greater than 23 inches away from the toilet door but no further than 10ft.
Correspondents say this is in line with the athlete’s testimony that he pulled the trigger while standing at the entrance to the bathroom.
Explaining the trajectory of the bullets, Capt. Christian Mangena said that Reeva Steenkamp, 29, was standing up in the toilet cubicle when she was hit in the right hip by the first of four bullets.
He said she then fell backwards before being hit in the arm and the head by the last two bullets fired by Oscar Pistorius through the wooden door as she crossed both hands over her head to protect herself.
Contradicting the athlete’s testimony that the shots had been fired in close succession, Capt. Christian Mangena said there had been a short break between the first and second shots and that the second bullet missed Reeva Steenkamp.
Correspondents say this corroborates evidence given by a neighbor who said she heard a shot, then a pause, then three further shots. It also suggests that Reeva Steenkamp may have had time to scream before she fell to the floor, supporting the neighbor’s testimony that she had heard a woman screaming.
“I’m of the opinion that after [the first] wound was inflicted… she dropped immediately,” Capt. Christian Mangena said.
Reeva Steenkamp then slumped into a “seated or semi-seated position” on top of a magazine rack, according to the police officer.
After the third and fourth shots she “ended up with her head on top of the toilet seat, and the lower part of her body on the rack”, Capt. Christian Mangena added.
Defense lawyer Barry Roux contested Capt. Christian Mangena’s evidence on the timing, maintaining that the bullets could have been fired in quick succession using a “double tap” technique – where the trigger is pulled in quick succession.
Capt. Christian Mangena insisted this was “impossible”, saying that if this had been the case then Reeva Steenkamp’s wounds would have been in the same area of her body.
The court also heard from Col. Mike Sales, an officer in the police technological investigations department, who analyzed data from Oscar Pistorius’ smartphones and tablets.
Col. Mike Sales said several websites had been browsed on Oscar Pistorius’ iPad on the evening of the shooting, although he could not confirm who had been using the iPad.
The internet history featured searches for used cars, including an Aston Martin and a Ford Ranger.
The court was adjourned until Monday after the prosecution said it would only call on five more witnesses.
[youtube 18KDXNceAH8 650]