Today the primary testimony was from a Doctor Johan Stipp, a neighbor who heard the shots and ran to see what had happened. He found Pistorius there praying for Reeva to live. The Doctor recalled that Pistorius said: “I shot her, I thought she was a burglar and I shot her.” The Doctor also testified that he was surprised there was no ambulance there and that none had been called. (I believe Pistorius called a friend instead!) In court Pistorius covered his ears when the Doctor told of Reeva’s wounds. Defense attorney Barrie Roux got the Doctor to say that Reeva could not have screamed after these injuries from the gunshots, but the prosecution pointed out that she could have screamed after the first shot (the prosecution has determined the fourth shot was the fatal one). The defense is trying to claim the screams were Pistorius and that he ‘screams like a girl.’
Also on the stand today was the husband of the first witness, another neighbor, Charl Johnson. Roux grilled him about notes he wrote regarding what he and his wife heard that night. For more:
The defense continued to try to rattle the first witness, neighbor Michelle Burger, without success. She stuck to her story that she heard a woman’s screams then gunshots. Her boyfriend testified to the same thing which the defense said was too close to the same story as the girlfriend. The girlfriend pointed out that they indeed heard the same thing- they were together. Burger’s husband, Chari Johnson, said he heard the screams then the shots. “I heard the lady scream again and the last scream faded moments after the last gunshot.” Another neighbor said she was awoken by loud voices. Prosecutor Gerrie Nel read from an expert’s report that the fourth shot was the fatal shot to Reeva’s head. At that point Pistorius clutched his head in his hands. For more on today’s testimony and some background on this case see the link below.
As most of you are aware Oscar Pistorius (the Blade Runner) is on trial in South Africa for the murder of his girlfriend, Reeva Steenkamp. Michelle Burgar, a neighbor, was the only witness today. She testified to hearing gunshots and “petrifying” screams from a female. The defense attorney, Barry Roux, tried to get her to say the screams could have been Pistorius but she said she heard two distinct voices. Regarding the gunshots Roux tried to get her to say they may have been the sound of a bat breaking down the bathroom door but she insisted it was gunshots. I have attached a link to a great article outlining the entire case below.
The Oscar Pistorius trial begins this week and it looks like it could be a long one. The opening and closing arguments will be live as well as expert testimony and the final judgement. This is a first in South Africa. The judge said he wanted the people to see that money and fame will not affect the outcome of this trial. The witness testimony (including Pistorius, should he decide to testify) will have audio only. The players include the following:
The judge is a woman: Thokozile Matilda Masipa, a former crime reporter who made headlines in 1998 when she became the second black woman to be appointed to the high court. She has a history of firm judgments in crimes against women. There are no jury trials in South Africa so the judge will render the final decision.
Pistorius has a strong legal team: Barry Roux is the primary lawyer with more than 30 years’ experience. He was able to destroy the police case at the bail hearing so that the man in charge of the investigation, Hilton Botha, was removed from the case. Roux charges about $6,000 a day.
Kenny Oldwageis another of his lawyers. He is famous in South Africa for defending Sizwe Mankazana, a man who drove the car that killed Nelson Mandela’s 13-year-old great-granddaughter. That man was aquitted.
The defense also has many expert witnesses, they even spoke to Henry Lee (according to Lee), famous for defending OJ Simpson. An expert team from the U.S. will reconstruct the crime scene. There is also a geologist on board.
The lead prosecutor is Gerrie Nel, a very serious lawyer who won a corruption conviction against a South African police chief- Jackie Selebi. Selebi was also head of Interpol.
The lead detective is Vinesh Moonoo, a father of two who is the top cop in South Africa.
There are over 100 people on the witness list. Included are Pistorius’ former girlfriend, friends who support him and friends who do not support him, people he has verbally abused and threatened physically and many more. I am looking forward to the Security Guard who called Pistorius right after the shooting to ask if everything was alright and Pistorius said: “Yes.”
For premeditated murder the sentence is life (25 years) in South Africa. If found not guilty on this charge he could still get culpable homicide and face 15 years.