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Oscar trial: Connecting shots heard to ballistic analysis

Sapa

The prosecutor has attempted to align what witness Michelle Burger heard to a ballistic analyst's reconstruction of Reeva Steenkamp's last moments.

Oscar Pistorius. (AFP)

The sequence of shots a witness in Oscar Pistorius's murder trial said she heard could tie in with a ballistic analyst's reconstruction of Reeva Steenkamp's last moments, the high court in Pretoria heard on Wednesday.

Prosecutor Gerrie Nel drew on the testimony of the first witness in the case, Michelle Burger, as he wrapped up the examination of Captain Chris Mangena.

"Michelle Burger, the first witness, said she heard the following: 'a shot, a pause, a shot, shot, shot," said Nel.

He wanted to know if this would tie in with his evidence.

"My Lady, that is possible," said Mangena. "You have one shot, a break and the other three shots, it is possible," said Mangena.

He was thanked for giving evidence by Judge Thokozile Masipa and left the witness stand. Colonel Ian van der Nest, a blood spatter expert, then took the stand.

Premeditated murder
The Olympic and Paralympic athlete has been charged with the premeditated murder of Steenkamp and contravening the Firearms Control Act.

He also allegedly fired a shot from a Glock pistol under a table at a Johannesburg restaurant in January 2013. On September 30 2012 he allegedly shot through the open sunroof of a car with his 9mm pistol while driving with friends in Modderfontein.

He has pleaded not guilty to all charges.

Earliers in the courtroom, Barry Roux for Pistorius was trying to get Mangena to concede that bone and bullet fragments could have caused wounds to the back of Steenkamp's hand.

She would have been holding her hand against her head when she was shot in the head.

Pistorius shot Steenkamp through a locked toilet door in his Silver Woods Country Estate townhouse in the early hours of February 14 last year, apparently thinking she was an intruder.

"If the left hand was close to the head what would have happened to the bone and the bullet fragments?" Roux asked Mangena.

Roux said the fragments would have struck the inside of Steenkamp's hand.

'Disagree with that'
"I disagree with that. I would have expected the bullets and fragments to travel to the back [of the head]," Mangena replied.

He repeatedly disagreed with Roux's versions.

"There won't be bone fragments coming back. I've never seen that," he said.

Meanwhile, the defence for Pistorius challenged the findings of a police ballistics analyst who reconstructed Steenkamp's last moments.

Roux and Mangena had a rapid fire exchange starting with Mangena's finding that Steenkamp fell on to a magazine rack when the first shot through a toilet door at his Pretoria home hit her in the right hip.

Roux said in the high court in Pretoria this finding was inconsistent with tests the defence had conducted, but Mangena stood his ground.

Dismiss Roux's statement
He conceded that a specific test of the magazine rack had not been conducted, but based on his other ballistic findings in the case and his 19 years' of experience in ballistics he did not accept Roux's version.

He had also not done specific tests on the spread of splinters found on Steenkamp's arm after the bullet went through the door to support his finding that she had her arm in a defensive position in front of her.

Mangena did not feel this additional test was necessary as his other analysis supported his findings.

Pistorius has already admitted that he shot Steenkamp, saying during his bail application he thought there was an intruder when he fired four shots through the toilet door. He only realised afterwards that it was Steenkamp.

Mangena was asked if he would conduct these tests now and he turned down the invitation. – Sapa

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