Home' Trinidad and Tobago Guardian : April 17th 2014 Contents A60
Guardian www.guardian.co.tt Thursday, April 17, 2014
lawyers tried to roll back the prose-
cution s momentum at his murder
trial yesterday following the star ath-
lete s shaky testimony, presenting a
forensic expert who quickly found his
own credentials and findings sharply
With Pistorius now back watching
the proceedings from a wooden bench,
the double-amputee Olympian s
defence team was attempting to bolster
his account that he shot girlfriend Reeva
Steenkamp by mistake through a toilet
door in his home, thinking she was a
dangerous intruder about to attack him
in the night.
Pistorius faces 25 years to life in
prison if convicted of premeditated
murder in Steenkamp s death in the
early hours of Valentine s Day last year.
But former police officer Roger Dixon,
testifying for the defense, also appeared
unsteady as chief prosecutor Gerrie Nel
warned him that it was irresponsible
to "try and be an expert" in areas he
Nel asserted in his cross-examination
that Dixon was not an expert in light,
sound, ballistics, gunshot wounds or
pathology --- all areas about which he
Dixon worked at the police forensic
laboratory in Pretoria until he left the
force in December 2012. He was a spe-
cialist in analyzing materials at crime
He now works in the geology depart-
ment at the University of Pretoria.
Nel also accused him of not answer-
ing questions directly. "For an expert
you are evasive," Nel said, prompting
the judge at one point to tell the ener-
getic prosecutor to "restrain" himself.
Earlier, the judge ruled that proceed-
ings will adjourn for more than two
weeks after Thursday because a mem-
ber of the prosecution team has another
case to attend to. The trial will resume
on May 5.
During the cross-examination, Nel
showed that Dixon s findings regarding
Steenkamp s gunshot wounds came
from analysis of autopsy photos and
from a pathologist s report because he
was not present at the autopsy. He also
hadn t read parts of the pathology
report, Nel charged.
The prosecutor also criticised Dixon
for not bringing photographs and his
written reports with him and abruptly
told him to bring them today.
"I said I will," Dixon snapped back.
"Good," Nel responded.
Nel ridiculed Dixon s finding about
the sequence of the shots that Pistorius
fired at Steenkamp through the door,
testimony which contradicted that of
a police ballistics expert and state
pathologist Prof Gert Saayman.
"I use the word finding very loosely,"
Nel said wryly of Dixon s theory.
Questioned by defence lawyer Barry
Roux, Dixon said he believed Steenkamp
was hit in the hip and the arm in quick
succession by the first two of four shots
while she was standing close to the
Raising his right arm in the court-
room, Dixon indicated he believed
Steenkamp may have had her right arm
extended and maybe her hand on the
door handle, as if she was about to
open the door through which she was
The defence was using his testimony
to try to cast doubt on the prosecution s
account that Steenkamp fled to the toi-
let and was hiding there during a fight
Nel has said that the runner inten-
tionally shot Steenkamp through the
door as she faced him and while they
Nel mocked what he said was a sug-
gestion by Dixon that Steenkamp was
knocked backward by one of the bul-
"It s something you see on TV," Nel
said dismissively, challenging the expert
to find scientific literature that showed
it was possible.
Nel also pounced on Dixon s con-
cession that an audio test that the
defense conducted to compare the
sounds of gunshots to those of a cricket
bat hitting a wood door --- which both
happened on the night of the killing ---
had to be done a second time because
of problems with the first.
He even asked him if he was an
expert at swinging a cricket bat, a cut-
ting reference to his hitting a bat on a
wood door in the defense s audio tests
at a gun range.
Dixon had also said he took part in
the audio tests that showed the sounds
of gunshots and of a cricket bat hitting
a wood door were similar and could be
confused. That is important because
several neighbours have testified that
they heard Steenkamp scream before
shots on the fatal night, backing the
prosecution s case that there was a fight
before Pistorius shot his girlfriend with
his 9 mm pistol.
Pistorius defense says the witnesses
are mistaking the sequence and they
heard Pistorius screaming in a high-
pitched voice for help before breaking
the toilet door open with his bat to get
to Steenkamp. When played by Pisto-
to rebuild case
rius lawyers in courts, the two noises
But questioned by Nel, Dixon said
the tests had to be repeated and that
they were recorded and edited by a
music producer who had no experience
in recording gunshots.
"I have no idea on the expertise of
the person who recorded the sounds,"
Dixon said. (AP)
Oscar Pistorius puts his hand to his face as he listens to forensic
evidence being given in court in Pretoria, South Africa, yesterday.
Pistorius is charged with the murder of his girlfriend, Reeva
Steenkamp, on Valentines Day in 2013. AP PHOTO
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