The trial of paralympian Oscar Pistorius for the murder of girlfriend Reeva Steenkamp entered its 13th day, and came with some pretty damning evidence.
Captain Chris Magenta, a ballistic experts recreated Steenkamp’s body stance in the toilet as she tried to avoid the bullets, and shows that Reeva would have been able to scream after the first shot.
With this, Pistorius could be put away for murder.
The defense had claimed that Steenkamp had lost cognitive function with the first shot and couldn’t scream, but pathologist Gert Saayman said that it would have been “unnatural” for someone not to cry out in pain after the hip or arm wounds she received.
The athlete maintains that he did not realize he was shooting at his girlfriend, but rather believed he was firing his 9mm Taurus pistol at an intruder in the pre-dawn hours of Valentine’s Day last year.
Mangena – a ballistics expert who has been with the police service for 20 years – says he reasoned various positions for Steenkamp, but a sitting position would have been too low for the hip wound.
When the first bullet was fired, “she was standing in front of the door, facing the door,” Mangena testified. “That bullet penetrated and broke the hip bone of the deceased,” causing her to fall.
He says he believes Steenkamp then moved backwards and down onto the magazine rack on the floor, raising her off the ground and into the trajectory of the next bullets. If she had been on the floor, Mangena added, the other bullets would have missed her.
The next bullet missed, Mangena said, hitting the wall and ricocheting in two places, before the fragments hit her back.
It was either the third or fourth bullet, he said, that did the most damage.
It passed through the webbing of her left hand and struck her head. “On impact with the skull, the bullet broke into two fragments. One penetrated the skull and was removed during postmortem, and the other piece of the fragment exited towards the back of the head,” Mangena said. “She dropped immediately.”
The other bullet passed through her raised arm and into her shoulder.
The defense says their experts will contest the sequence of the bullets, alleging in cross-examination that Steenkamp’s right side was facing the locked toilet door and that the bruising on her back was caused by a fall onto the magazine rack, not bullets. The ballistics expert remained adamant, emphatically disagreeing with defense attorney Barry Roux.
Roux told Mangena that the athlete used two “double taps” – two shots in rapid succession – when he fired, implying that no reaction may have been possible from whoever was behind the door.
“It’s impossible,” said Mangena, gesturing at his abdomen. “If it’s two double taps, then all the wounds would be in the same position. There wouldn’t be any time for her to change position in that instance.”
There had to be a break after the first shot, he added, in order for Steenkamp to change position.
Michelle Burger, a witness living in a neighboring estate, said she heard four “bangs,” with a pause between the first and second.