Dispute over path of Pistorius bullets

Olympic and Paralympic track star Oscar Pistorius confers with his defence lawyer Barry Roux in the North Gauteng High Court in Pretoria May 6, 2014. Picture: REUTERS/Mike Hutchings
Olympic and Paralympic track star Oscar Pistorius confers with his defence lawyer Barry Roux in the North Gauteng High Court in Pretoria May 6, 2014. Picture: REUTERS/Mike Hutchings

The High Court in Pretoria heard debate on Friday (09/05/2014) on the different spots hit by bullets Oscar Pistorius fired last year.

Ballistics expert Thomas “Wollie” Wolmarans, testifying in Pistorius’s defence, queried assertions of police ballistics expert Captain Chris Mangena.

Pistorius has been charged with murder after he shot his girlfriend Reeva Steenkamp dead in his Pretoria home on February 14 last year.

He shot through the locked door of his toilet, hitting Steenkamp in the hip, arm, and head. He claims that he mistook her for an intruder.

The bullet holes have been marked A to D on the door of a toilet cubicle model that has been set up in court.

Lasers were used by both ballistics experts to match the bullets and the spots they hit on Steenkamp’s body and on the wall.

Wolmarans argued on Friday that Mangena did not take into account a possibility of the bullets deflecting as they penetrated the door.

Prosecutor Gerrie Nel said Mangena had managed to link the hole caused by bullet B to a spot marked E on the wall inside the toilet.

Wolmarans said E came “very close” but not quite. He repeatedly said it would be difficult to ascertain Steenkamp’s actual position in the toilet when the shots were fired.

Nel also examined him on the sound tests conducted in preparation for the trial.

Wolmarans said on the first night of the tests at a shooting range, the gun was jamming because the ammunition “was not friendly”.

Wolmarans would still be on the stand when the trial resumes on Monday.

Earlier Wolmarans said Reeva Steenkamp was dressed when she was fatally shot.

Wolmarans said Steenkamp could not have been sitting on the toilet seat when the shots were fired.

“The deceased was not sitting on the toilet seat. Her pants were pulled up and the shot was fired through her pants,” said Wolmarans.

Wolmarans said another expert could give the court a different version of probable events on that fateful Valentine’s Day morning.

Earlier, Judge Thokozile Masipa and her two assessors inspected a toilet cubicle erected inside courtroom GD.

Prosecutor Gerrie Nel invited the judge to examine the reconstruction of the toilet before he began his cross-examination of Wolmarans.

Earlier Wolmarans testified that Pistorius was on his stumps when he fatally shot Steenkamp.

Wolmarans concurred with earlier evidence by police ballistics expert Captain Chris Mangena.

However, Wolmarans highlighted several differences between his conclusions and that of the State.

He submitted that bullets which hit Steenkamp, fracturing her hip did not exit her body. A section of the bullet which caused the head wound was unaccounted for and its pieces may be part of the fragments recovered at the scene.

Wolmarans also questioned the possibility of a bullet ricocheting, then hitting Steenkamp and finally landing in the toilet bowl.

He said an accurate determination of the sequence of the shots or Steenkamp’s body position when she was shot was not possible.

Pistorius is also charged with three contraventions of the Firearms Control Act – one of illegal possession of ammunition and two of discharging a firearm in public.

He has denied guilt on all charges. – Sapa

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