Judge grants postponement of Oscar trial

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Pretoria – Judge Thokozile Masipa has granted an application by the prosecution in the Oscar Pistorius murder trial to postpone the matter from Thursday until 5 May 2014.

On Tuesday, prosecutor Gerrie Nel requested that the trial be postponed as it had gone on longer than expected and his colleagues had other matters to attend to.

The application was not opposed by the defence.

Masipa told the court on Wednesday that the trial was estimated to run for three weeks, but has been running for almost seven weeks, which means it has encroached on other matters on the court roll.

She said a postponement of seven working days will not be unduly long and will not prejudice the accused in any way, as he is out on bail.

The postponement will also give her and the legal teams time to read the court record, which is now nearly 2 000 pages.

Nel grills Dixon

Evidence given by defence expert witness Roger Dixon came under scrutiny in the North Gauteng High Court.

Dixon, who gave evidence on Tuesday and Wednesday on issues including fibres, wood splinters, the sound of a gun versus a cricket bat hitting a door, and how a bullet could ricochet off tiles, said as an expert he “only looked at the evidence”.

“In my experience in the police, I feel I can interpret,” he said.

Nel queried Dixon’s qualifications and background, before asking specifically what type of expert Dixon, a qualified geologist, was.

“Are you a sound expert?” Nel asked.

“I would hope I’m a sound expert,” he replied.

Acoustics

Nel repeated the question, referring to sound and acoustics specifically, to which Dixon said the test he did of the sound made by a cricket bat hitting a door and a gun firing was to determine whether the two could be confused.

“[The] expertise used was attempting to reconstruct the situation… I was not listening to myself making that sound,” he said.

Nel asked who was involved in the sound test at a firing range. Dixon said the range officer, two ballistic experts, their wives, two people from the sound recording company, and himself.

“I think that’s almost all.”

After further probing on who was at the range, Dixon said the range was closed.

“I was concentrating on the test. I can’t recall anyone there.”

Darkness

Nel moved onto the test Dixon conducted on how dark it would have been in Pistorius’s bedroom on 14 February last year, when his girlfriend Reeva Steenkamp was shot dead.

Dixon said: “The instruments that I used were my eyes.”

Following further questioning from Nel he said he was not a light measuring expert, and had not used equipment to conduct the test.

Pistorius, who appeared to pay rapt attention to Nel’s cross-examination of Dixon, is on trial for shooting Steenkamp through the locked door of a toilet cubicle in his Pretoria house.

Bullet casing

The bullet casing found in the toilet bowl next to a fatally wounded Steekamp could not have been from the one that hit her in the head, the court heard earlier.

Dixon said the weight of the bullet casing did not add up, testifying that the Black Talon bullet which hit Steenkamp weighed around 127 grains.

The one found in the toilet weighed 65.9 grains. One grain is about 0.06 grams. Dixon explained that adding this to that of the projectile found in Steenkamp’s skull, the numbers did not add up, meaning it could not have been the same bullet.

He agreed with the testimony of a police official who earlier told the court that the first shot Pistorius fired probably struck Steenkamp’s hip.

As Dixon spoke about the wounds on Steenkamp’s body, Pistorius leaned forward and held his head in his hands. His sister, Aimee, who sat in the court gallery, was also visibly upset.

Pistorius is on trial for the murder of Steenkamp. He shot her dead through the locked toilet door of his home on Valentine’s Day last year, apparently thinking she was an intruder.

SAPA / News24

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