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Fri Aug 22 17:41:07 SAST 2014

The Oscar Pistorius murder trial Day 17

TimesLIVE, Tymon Smith, Graeme Hosken, AFP and Sapa | 07 April, 2014 09:32

Get all the news from the Oscar Pistorius murder trial on Day 17 in one place.

PISTORIUS OFFERS TEARFUL APOLOGY - Sapa

'Blade Runner' Oscar Pistorius broke down in tears on Monday as he apologised to his girlfriend's family for the suffering he caused when he shot her dead.

In a quivering voice, the double amputee swore on the witness stand he was simply trying to protect Reeva Steenkamp from a suspected intruder when he fired four shots at her through a locked door on Valentine's Day last year.

"I wake up every morning and you [her family] are the first people I think of, the first people I pray for... I was simply trying to protect Reeva," Pistorius sobbed.

He promised that Steenkamp "felt loved" when she went to bed with him on the night she died, implicitly challenging the State's charge that he shot her with forethought after an argument.

Under questioning from his lawyer Barry Roux, SC, Pistorius told the High Court in Pretoria he had been taking a cocktail of anti-depressants and sleeping pills for the past year because he was haunted by nightmares and the smell of blood.

"I'm scared to sleep," Pistorius said, clutching a white tissue.

"For several reasons. I have terrible nightmares about things that happened that night. I smell blood and I wake up to be terrified. I hear a noise, I wake up in just... in a complete state of terror..."

He said the turmoil drove him to climb into a cupboard one night and call his sister Aimee to comfort him, and spoke of religion as a support.

"My God is a God of refuge," he said.

Roux led Pistorius through hours of testimony that amounted to a tour of his life -- from his early struggle to cope with crude prostheses, schoolyard bullying and losing his mother at 15, to the emotional impact of his disability and the demands of top level athletics, in which he became the first amputee to run in the Olympics.

He suggested that his security fears were partly inherited from his mother Sheila, who slept with a handgun under her pillow, partly the result of falling victim to crime frequently as an adult.

"She often got scared at night. We didn't live in the best of areas. There was a lot of crime. She would call the police, call us to her room and we would wait for the police to arrive."

He said he was burgled while competing abroad and added: "My father has been hijacked twice. My brother was in an attempted hijacking.. I've been followed home late at night. I've been shot at on the highway."

On several occasions, he rushed to the aid of roadside crime victims with his firearm, he said, but vowed that after Steenkamp's death he would "obviously" never touch a gun again.

Pistorius also explained the chafing wounds he often suffered on his legstumps and his emotional attachment to his prosthesis, without which he said he felt physically vulnerable and unstable.

"I can't stand still on my stumps... I don't have very good balance."

This is likely to be central argument in his case.

While the prosecution and the defence agree that Pistorius was on his stumps when he fired the shots, police witnesses have contradicted his claim that he was wearing his prostheses when he used a collector's cricket bat to bash open the door to reach Steenkamp.

Pistorius was on the stand for some two hours before Roux asked if court could adjourn early because his client had spent a sleepless night and was too exhausted to continue.

"I'm just very tired ... obviously the weight of this is extremely overbearing," the sprinter said before Judge Thokozile Masipa readily granted the adjournment.

Earlier on Monday, Pistorius had again retched audibly as retired pathologist Jan Botha testified for the defence and graphic images of Steenkamp's bullet wounds were shown in court.

Botha contradicted the testimony of the police and the pathologist who performed the post mortem on Steenkamp regarding the sequence and impact of her wounds.

He said he believed Pistorius shot Steenkamp first in the hip, the arm, then the head in about four seconds, and then she died probably without being able to call out.

The State contends that the second bullet missed Steenkamp altogether and has built much of its case on testimony from neighbours who said they heard a woman scream in terror from Pistorius's house just before Steenkamp died.

But under cross-examination Botha was forced to concede that Steenkamp may have screamed in fear and that he could not relate the holes in the door with the bullet wounds she suffered with any certainty.

"I never commented on the sequence of holes in the door and their correlation with the sequence of the wounds," Botha said.

"You can't divorce the two," said State prosecutor Gerrie Nel.

Nel also told Botha he could not testify with any authority on the possible deviations in the abrasion marks around the bullet wounds if he failed to take into account that they had first travelled through a meranti door.

"Bring me any publication where somebody would support you that you can make any conclusion about the collar of abrasion after it has passed through a door," Nel said.

The pathologist reiterated that he was not a ballistics expert.

In a surprise step, Roux altered the defence's original claim that Pistorius used a so-called double-tap sequence when he fired the four shots, to say that his client had merely fired in rapid succession.

Nel responded: "I am totally surprised by what Mr Roux said about the double-tap ... It is the first I hear that it is not the defence's case that it was a double tap."

In his re-examination of Botha, the prosecutor said if this were the case, the witnesses' version of what happened in the moments before Steenkamp died were even less likely.

Pistorius granted an early adjournment - Tymon Smith

A visibly emotional and exhausted Oscar Pistorius was granted an early adjournment on the seventeenth day of his murder trial in Pretoria.

Prosecutor Gerrie Nel accepted a request by Pistorius's lawyer Barry Roux for an early adjournment, provided this did not become "a regular occurrence".

Pistorius earlier testified about various incidents in which he claims to have been a victim of crime. These included a break-in at his previous house in 2005, while he was away in England competing in the Manchester Paralympic World Cup; an incident in which he had been shot at while driving on the highway to Pretoria from Johannesburg; and several instances where he was followed home.

Pistorius also testified that he had intervened in an incident in the parking lot of a shopping centre in Menlyn, Pretoria, where he stopped two men from assaulting a woman, as well as another incident in which he had helped a taxi driver who had been assaulted.

The Paralympian told the court that he was so "bowled over" by Reeva Steenkamp that he had made an offer on a house in Johannesburg in December 2012 in order to be closer to her.

Pistorius became tearful and emotional when speaking about the importance of his religion. He said that religion was the one thing that had helped him through the last year and that Steenkamp was a strong Christian, which was one of the reasons for their strong relationship.

When the adjournment was granted, a tearful Pistorius was comforted in the witness box by his brother Carl and sister Aimee before leaving court.

His testimony will continue tomorrow morning.

PISTORIUS A CHRISTIAN, DOG LOVER - Sapa

Paralympian Oscar Pistorius is a dog lover and finds refuge in God, he told the High Court in Pretoria during his murder trial on Monday.

Prompted by his lawyer Barry Roux, he told the court he had a Jack Russell, a bull terrier, and an American pitbull, which he rescued from a breeder where it was being kept under poor conditions.

He got the Jack Russell in 2005 when he bought his first townhouse.

"Two years later I got a bull terrier because they're a better watchdog." Three years afterwards he got the pitbull, a breed he described as "very placid, loving dogs".

As Pistorius moved on to the subject of his religion, he became tearful when he mentioned his girlfriend Reeva Steenkamp. He is accused of murdering her in his Pretoria home on February 14 last year. He shot her through the locked door of his toilet, apparently thinking she was an intruder.

Pistorius told the court his mother Sheila sang in the Methodist church choir.

"It doesn't matter what may come of life, we always find refuge in the Lord," he said his mother had taught him and his two siblings.

He said Steenkamp "was a very good Christian".

"She would pray about my travelling and all of the small things in my life," he said through his tears.

"My religion is what's gotten me through this last year... my God is my refuge," he said.

Pistorius is also charged with illegal possession of a firearm and ammunition, and two counts of discharging a firearm in public.

He 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 denied guilt on all charges.

OSCAR TESTIMONY CONTINUES ON TUESDAY - Sapa

Oscar Pistorius's trial for the murder of his girlfriend Reeva Steenkamp was adjourned on Monday because he was exhausted.

After taking the stand around noon in the High Court in Pretoria, his lawyer Barry Roux, SC, told the court about 30 minutes following a lunch-break: "You can see he is very exhausted."

He asked Judge Thokozile Masipa if court might adjourn 20 minutes early, to resume on Tuesday.

Prosecutor Gerrie Nel said: "Well, My Lady, I would like us to finalise the case. We have to get somewhere, I hope it is not a daily occurrence."

Masipa told Nel that Pistorius looked exhausted and granted the adjournment.

Pistorius's family surrounded him in the witness stand once Masipa and her assessors left.

Pistorius shot Steenkamp through the locked toilet door of his Pretoria home on February 14 last year.

He says he mistook her for an intruder. He has pleaded not guilty and in his plea statement denied he had argued with her shortly before the shooting.

He also faces two charges related to contravening the Firearms Control Act, to which he has denied guilt. Steenkamp's mother June was present in court with other family members and friends.

SOUTH AFRICANS EXPOSED TO CRIME: OSCAR - Sapa

All people living in South Africa have been exposed to crime, including himself, murder-accused Oscar Pistorius told the High Court in Pretoria on Monday.

"Everyone in South Africa at some point has been exposed to crime," the paralympian told the court on day 17 of his murder trial.

"My father has been hijacked twice. My brother was in an attempted hijacking."

While growing up, there was a housebreaking at his father's house.

Pistorius recalled how the family returned from a holiday to find the Johannesburg home ransacked.

Pistorius said that while living with his mother the house was broken into a few times.

He recalled he went to the Paralympic World Cup in Manchester, London. When he returned to South Africa he found his house had been broken into.

His TV was stolen and his car's roof was cut.

"One night, there was somebody in my garden," he said.

"I've been followed home late at night. I've been shot at on the highway."

Pistorius recalled a night when a car drove up behind him. He said he slowed down so the man could pass.

"I saw a muzzle flash," the athlete said.

He said he went to a public place and sat there for a while, then called his friend to fetch him and left his car there.

The court also heard how Pistorius and former girlfriend, State witness Samantha Taylor, were followed home one night.

He said there was another occasion when a car followed him for a few days at a time.

The court also heard how Pistorius assisted people who were victims of crime.

He recalled in January 2012 a Toyota Corolla was pushed off the road by a minibus taxi.

Three men were smashing the windscreen of the car and beating the man and car with rocks.

Pistorius said he was parked at a robot and jumped the light and withdrew his firearm. The men jumped into the taxi and drove away.

"The guy was bleeding profusely... He was bleeding all over and two of the wheels of the car had burst," Pistorius said.

"Every time he tried to stand up, he fell over."

An emotional Pistorius told the court how he assisted the man to sit down and called paramedics and another man started helping him.

"The situation seemed to be contained so I got into my car and left."

Pistorius said that in December 2012 he was assaulted by a man while attending a function .

"I ended up receiving stitches at the back of my head."

He reported the incident to the Hawks detective unit, which scheduled a meeting and brought in the concerned parties.

"I had calls from several journalists which I decided not to take," he said.

Pistorius said he did not speak to the media about the assault.

The athlete is charged with murdering his girlfriend Reeva Steenkamp, who was shot through the locked toilet door of his Pretoria home on February 14 last year.

He said he had mistaken her for an intruder.

He also faces two charges of contravening the Firearms Control Act, to which he has denied guilt.

OSCAR WANTED TO MOVE TO JOBURG - Sapa

Oscar Pistorius put in an offer to buy a house in Johannesburg because he was "bowled over" by Reeva Steenkamp, the High Court in Pretoria heard on Monday.

The paralympian was testifying in his murder trial.

With a view to selling, he had decided to catch up on maintenance at his own home in the secure estate Silver Lakes in Pretoria where he had lived since 2008.

Steenkamp had been living with her friend Gina Myers's family in Johannesburg when Pistorius shot her dead at a sleep-over at his house on Valentine's Day last year.

When he moved into the Pretoria home in 2008, only 27 homes had been developed although 300 had been marked out.

There had been constant development on the estate and crimes associated with this.

A contractor walked through an open door and tied up a housekeeper and stole items from a house.

The building contractor working on his house, Mr Mendelow, had also been the victim of a crime when a ladder had been used to get into his home.

After two house-breakings, the estate decided to increase security.

Pistorius has since put his house in Pretoria on the market to help cover his legal costs.

Pistorius shot Steenkamp through the locked toilet door of his Pretoria home on February 14 last year.

He says he had mistaken her for an intruder. He has pleaded not guilty and in his plea statement denied he had argued with her shortly before the shooting.

He also faces two charges related to contravening the Firearms Control Act, to which he has denied guilt.

Steenkamp's mother June was present in court with other family members and friends.

Tweet: TMG Oscar ‏@OscarsTrial #OscarPistorius Nel agrees but only as long as "it's not a daily occurrence."

Tweet: TMG Oscar ‏@OscarsTrial #OscarPistorius OP didn't sleep last night, getting emotional, exhausted - Roux asking for an early adjournment

Tweet: TMG Oscar ‏@OscarsTrial #OscarPistorius OP says Reeva was a very strong Christian - choking up a bit here. Religion the thing that's got him through the last year

Tweet: TMG Oscar ‏@OscarsTrial #OscarPistorius OP now moving from dogs to the subject of his religion and its importance to him

Tweet: TMG Oscar ‏@OscarsTrial #OscarPistorius OP going through all the details of his dogs' relationship with him

Tweet: TMG Oscar ‏@OscarsTrial #OscarPistorius ok ok - his dogs are placid, not very aggressive, lick everyone in sight, follow OP all over the house

Tweet: TMG Oscar ‏@OscarsTrial #OscarPistorius OP now mentioning crime incidents at Silverwood, a break in, a robbery where housekeeper was tied up

Tweet: TMG Oscar ‏@OscarsTrial #OscarPistorius OP hasn't been back to Silver Woods since the incident

Tweet: TMG Oscar ‏@OscarsTrial  #OscarPistorious Pistorius hasn't mentioned name of man who assaulted him but went to the Hawks re the incident

Tweet: TMG Oscar ‏@OscarsTrial #OscarPistorius OP says he was assaulted at a party in December 2012

PISTORIUS DABBLED IN DAGGA - Sapa

Paralympian Oscar Pistorius smoked dagga when his mother died but stopped, he told the High Court in Pretoria on Monday.

"In the month and a half, My Lady... when my mother passed away when I was 15, I smoked dagga with a friend," he said during testimony in his murder trial.

"I haven't taken any substances since then."

He had not taken anything that gave him an advantage over his competitors at the Paralympic or Olympic events he participated in.

He drank alcohol, but not in the pre-season from November until Christmas.

He said he went away with family and friends for Christmas. From the beginning of January to September he did not drink.

From September to October he fulfilled sponsorship commitments, travelled a lot and drank on the plane and with friends.

He said that before a boating accident on the Vaal he had one drink but was not intoxicated.

Pistorius is on trial for the murder of his girlfriend Reeva Steenkamp, who was shot through the locked toilet door of his Pretoria home on February 14 last year.

He says he had mistaken her for an intruder. He has pleaded not guilty and in his plea statement denied he had argued with her shortly before the shooting.

He also faces two charges related to contravening the Firearms Control Act, to which he has denied guilt.

Steenkamp's mother June was present in court with other family members and friends.

PROSTHESES AN EXTENSION: OSCAR - Sapa

Paralympian Oscar Pistorius sees his prostheses as an extension of his body, he told the High Court in Pretoria on Monday during his murder trial.

"I don't want anybody touching them," he said to questioning from his lawyer Barry Roux.

Roux had asked Pistorius why he covered them up when he put them next to his bag at athletic events.

"I'm a bit shy about them, a bit embarrassed about them when I don't have them on," he said.

Roux also asked him about the effect his competing in international sporting events had on his social life, friends, and family.

He replied: "Finding time to speak to friends and family is really difficult,."

Pistorius is accused of the murder of model and law graduate Reeva Steenkamp on February 14 last year.

He is also charged with illegal possession of a firearm and ammunition, and two counts of discharging a firearm in public.

He 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.

Tweet: TMG Oscar ‏@OscarsTrial #OscarPistorius OP now describing intervening in an incident involving an assault on a taxi driver in January 2013 - blood everywhere

Tweet: TMG Oscar ‏@OscarsTrial #OscarPistorius OP says he intervened in 2012 when he saw a woman being assaulted by two men in Menlyn parking lot

Tweet: TMG Oscar ‏@OscarsTrial #OscarPistorius OP says he gave a lot of interviews at his house, people knew where he lived

Tweet: TMG Oscar ‏@OscarsTrial  #OscarPistorius OP says he's been followed home a couple of times and shot at on the highway once

Tweet: TMG Oscar ‏@OscarsTrial  #OscarPistorius OP says his home broken into in 2005

Tweet: TMG Oscar ‏@OscarsTrial #OscarPistorius OP now describing experienced of crime growing up - housebreakings, father hijacked twice, mother in attempted hijacking

Tweet: TMG Oscar ‏@OscarsTrial #OscarPistorius OP says he smoked dagga once after his mother died but doesn't do drugs or use banned substances

Tweet: TMG Oscar ‏@OscarsTrial #OscarPistorius OP says he had a drink on day of Vaal accident but wasn't intoxicated

Tweet: TMG Oscar ‏@OscarsTrial #OscarPistorius OP says he does drink - not during training. Mostly over Christmas New Year

Tweet: TMG Oscar ‏@OscarsTrial #OscarPistorius OP says track and field athletes compete five months a year, away from home - affects family and social relationships

Tweet: TMG Oscar ‏@OscarsTrial #OscarPistorius we're back and Roux will continue with the life and times of today's most hashtagged man on earth

I never wants to handle a gun again: Pistorius - Tymon Smith

It was the moment the world had been waiting for when a nervous Oscar Pistorius took the stand on the seventeenth day of his murder trial.

Pistorius is accused of murdering his girlfriend Reeva Steenkamp in the early hours of Valentine's Day last year. He has previously claimed that he mistook her for an intruder.

Pistorius began by asking the court to tender an apology. He trembled and was close to tears as he turned his gaze towards Steenkamp's mother June, who was sitting in the gallery. He apologised to her and her husband, Barry, saying that the Steenkamps were "the first people I think of when I wake up in the morning and the first people I pray for".

Pistorius said that he was sorry that he "had not been able to protect Reeva" and that he was trying to protect her from the intruders he believed had entered his house.

Pistorius testified that since last year he has been on medication, including antidepressants and sleeping pills, and that he has trouble sleeping. He said that he often woke up in the middle of the night, "smelling blood" and experiencing nightmares related to the incident.

He told the court that he "never wants to handle a gun again" and that, although he sleeps with a security guard outside his door, he still often woke up terrified when hearing noises. He described an incident where he was so scared that he climbed into his bedroom cupboard before phoning his sister Aimee to come and help him calm down.

Pistorius's lawyer, Barry Roux, then lead the Paralympian through a history of his upbringing and his decision to become a professional athlete.

More calm than during his apology, Pistorius spoke of the profound effect of his mother’s death when he was 15 and of almost losing his life during a boating accident on the Vaal River in 2009.

He said that the incident had made him more vigilant, withdrawn and serious about his sport, and that reports that he was drunk at the time were untrue and upsetting.

He also testified that while growing up with his mother, she had been security conscious because his father was often away, and that she had kept a pistol in a padded bag under her pillow for protection.

Pistorius will continue testifying after the lunch adjournment.

PISTORIUS HIGHLIGHTS HIS HUMANITARIAN WORK - Sapa

Murder-accused Oscar Pistorius performed humanitarian and charity work, he told the High Court in Pretoria on Monday.

"I found it very important to myself," said Pistorius who is accused of murdering his girlfriend Reeva Steenkamp on Valentine's Day at his home last year.

He related how he had set up a race in the centre of town in Vilanculos in Mozambique through a radio station as part of his work with landmine victims.

He had noticed that people were embarrassed by their injuries and that he had found that many teenagers who had not even been part of the war in Mozambique had stepped on landmines and had been injured.

He told the court he had challenged anybody to come and run against him and he won. After that, people with prostheses started stepping forward and seemed more confident of themselves.

He worked with two foundations which provided medical assistance to people who had lost their legs.

He approached the University of Glasgow in Scotland and helped to develop a prosthetic foot for African conditions that was light and durable.

Someone could safely fall asleep with it next to a fire.

He also received an honorary doctorate for his humanitarian work from the University of Strathclyde.

After his initial emotional apology to Steenkamp's family, Pistorius sat down and testified in an almost monotonous style.

He has pleaded not guilty to the murder charge as well as two charges under the Firearms Act.

ATHLETICS AFFECTED FRIENDSHIPS: OSCAR - Sapa

Competing in athletics nationally and internationally affected the friendships of murder-accused Oscar Pistorius, the High Court in Pretoria heard on Monday.

"It changed a lot of dynamics," Pistorius told the court as his lawyer Barry Roux led his evidence in-chief.

"It did change the friendships that I had."

Pistorius took the witness stand on day 17 of his murder trial for the first time since the trial started on March 3.

As Pistorius spoke, older brother Carl kept his eyes on him the whole time.

He told the court he had been blessed with his athletics, but the sport often took him out of the country for months on end which made it difficult to maintain friendships.

He is on trial charged with the murder of Steenkamp, who was shot through the locked toilet door of his Pretoria home on February 14 last year.

He says he had mistaken her for an intruder. He has pleaded not guilty and in his plea statement denied he had argued with her shortly before the shooting.

He also faces two charges related to contravening the Firearms Control Act, to which he has denied guilt.

NO BALANCE ON STUMPS, OSCAR TELLS COURT - Sapa

Paralympian Oscar Pistorius has no balance when on his stumps, he told the High Court in Pretoria on Monday.

"I can't stand still on my stumps. I seldom have time when I'm not wearing my prosthetic legs... I don't have very good balance," he said to questioning from his lawyer Barry Roux.

Accused of the murder of his girlfriend Reeva Steenkamp, he was testifying in his own defence.

According to his bail application statement, he was on his stumps when he shot four times through the locked door of his toilet, killing Steenkamp.

He claims he thought she was an intruder. He then put his prostheses on to kick at the door and break it open with a cricket bat.

Led by Roux, he told the court the difficulties of having to wear prosthetic legs.

He said travelling caused problems like skin irritation on his stumps because of having to wear his prostheses for long periods of time on flights.

"If something happens on a plane I wouldn't have the luxury of putting my prosthetic legs on quickly enough.

"I've had blood clotting, some of which involved hospitalisation after the flights."

Before this, Roux asked him about his family history, schooling, and athletic career.

Pistorius also faces charges related to alleged contraventions of the Firearms Control Act, to which has pleaded not guilty.

Tweet: TMG Oscar ‏@OscarsTrial #OscarPistorius OP says boat accident made him more vigilant, withdrawn, more serious about his sport

Tweet: TMG Oscar ‏@OscarsTrial #OscarPistorius OP now talking about 2009 boating accident at the Vaal

Tweet: TMG Oscar ‏@OscarsTrial #OscarPistorius OP says works to change perceptions re disability and show disabled you can live a normal life, make social contribution

Tweet: TMG Oscar ‏@OscarsTrial #OscarPistorius OP now talking about work with foundation in Mozambique - people who lost legs from land mines

Tweet: TMG Oscar ‏@OscarsTrial  #OscarPistorius OP says his right stump is 6cm longer than the left

Tweet: TMG Oscar ‏@OscarsTrial  #OscarPistorius OP says he doesn't have balance on his stumps, can't stand still on them

PISTORIUS TELLS OF MOTHER'S DEATH - Sapa

Oscar Pistorius got to his mother's bedside 10 minutes before she died when he was 15 years old, he told the High Court in Pretoria on Monday.

He said he and his brother Carl and sister Aimee did not know she was sick and had not been home for a while when they were told she was ill.

"I think we were there about 10 minutes before she passed," he said, sitting down after initially standing for his testimony.

He faces a charge of murdering his girlfriend Reeva Steenkamp at his home in Pretoria on Valentine's Day in Pretoria last year.

After his mother Sheila's death, when the children were not staying in the school hostel, they would stay with friends of their mother's sister, and some holidays with their father, who had divorced their mother.

Pistorius has pleaded not guilty to murdering Steenkamp and to two charges under the Firearms Act.

MOTHER HAD PISTOL, PISTORIUS TELLS COURT - Sapa

Paralympian Oscar Pistorius's mother Sheila kept a pistol under her pillow when he was a child, he told the High Court in Pretoria on Monday.

"She kept a firearm in a padded bag under her pillow," he said to questioning from his lawyer Barry Roux.

Pistorius is accused of the murder of his girlfriend Reeva Steenkamp in his Pretoria home on February 14 last year.

He was asked whether his mother had any "security concerns".

He said his father was often not around.

"She often got scared at night. We didn't live in the best of areas. There was a lot of crime. She would call the police, call us to her room and we would wait for the police to arrive."

Pistorius has been charged with the murder of Steenkamp and contraventions of the Firearms Control Act.

He said he thought there was an intruder in his house when he shot and killed Steenkamp in the early hours of Valentine's Day through the door of a toilet in his Pretoria house last year. She had been spending the night.

He 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.

OSCAR TELLS HOW SUPPORTIVE HIS MOM WAS - Sapa

Oscar Pistorius's mother was very supportive, the paralympian testified in his murder trial in the High Court in Pretoria on Monday.

"She didn't ever want me to see my disability as something that should hold me back," said the double amputee who went on to compete in the Olympic Games.

She allowed him to pursue sports, and if he fell she allowed him to get up for himself.

He went to primary school on the West Rand. In primary school, the prosthetic legs he had were very heavy and did not allow him to be as mobile.

"It was difficult," he said.

He encountered some teasing and bullying for the first time, after growing up to think he was like everyone else.

"I had grown up not thinking I was any different," he said.

He was bullied and pushed around a few times and his parents told him to stand up for himself.

"My family always believed in standing up for yourself and standing up for what you believe in. We were taught that you have got to cope."

He related a story of how mother stood up for him when he stood up to a bully who had pulled his buttons off his shirt.

His mother also had her own pistol, which she kept under her pillow, for safety.

She died when he was 15 years old.

"Everything we learnt from life I learn from her."

Pistorius has been charged with the murder of Steenkamp and contraventions of the Firearms Control Act.

He said he thought there was an intruder in his house when he shot and killed Steenkamp in the early hours of Valentine's Day through the door of a toilet in his Pretoria house last year. She had been spending the night.

He 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.

COURT HEARS OF OSCAR SECURITY GUARD - Sapa

Oscar Pistorius sleeps with a security guard at his door since he shot dead his girlfriend Reeva Steenkamp, the High Court in Pretoria heard on Monday.

The emotional paralympian told the court he had trouble sleeping since Steenkamp's death on February 14 last year.

"A security guard stands outside my door at night," he said.

"I wake up in a state of complete terror at the slightest noises."

Pistorius said that after the shooting he never wanted to handle a firearm again.

He said one night he could not sleep and climbed into a cupboard. He asked his sister Aimee to stay with him.

The court heard that he was put on antidepressants and sleeping tablets after he shot Steenkamp in his Pretoria home on Valentine's Day last year.

Pistorius told the court about his parents' separation when he was six years old and that his mother passed away when he was 15.

He spoke of the close relationship he had with his brother Carl and sister Aimee.

Barry Roux, for Pistorius, asked Pistorius to explain the difficulties he faced after he was born without fibulae in both his legs.

"I have prosthetic legs which has helped me overcome those disabilities," he said.

Pistorius told the court about his amputation and when he got his first prosthetic legs.

He is on trial for the murder of Steenkamp, who was shot through the locked toilet door of his Pretoria home on February 14 last year.

He says he had mistaken her for an intruder. He has pleaded not guilty and in his plea statement denied he had argued with her shortly before the shooting.

He also faces two charges related to contravening the Firearms Control Act, to which he has denied guilt.

Tweet: TMG Oscar ‏@OscarsTrial #OscarPistorius just like sitting down with Sports Illustrated for an interview so OP's reasonably relaxed

Tweet: TMG Oscar ‏@OscarsTrial #OscarPistorius so this is the life story of the Blade Runner. When he turned pro, when he became real good at running etc

Tweet: TMG Oscar ‏@OscarsTrial #OscarPistorius OP now describing effect of his mother's death. He hadn't known she was sick until towards the end.

Tweet: TMG Oscar ‏@OscarsTrial #OscarPistorius now describing his route to becoming a paralympian

Tweet: TMG Oscar ‏@OscarsTrial #OscarPistorius OP now describing his mixed group of friends in high school - says he was "just one of the boys."

OSCAR TELLS OF HIS MEDICATION - Sapa

Murder-accused paralympian Oscar Pistorius told the High Court in Pretoria on Monday that he struggled to get to sleep.

He said he was on medication for depression after he shot dead his girlfriend Reeva Steenkamp at his home in Pretoria on Valentine's Day last year.

"I"m scared to sleep," said Pistorius, his voice shaking, holding a white tissue.

"For several reasons. I have terrible nightmares about things that happened that night.

"I smell blood and I wake up to be terrified. I hear a noise, I wake up in just... in a complete state of terror..."

He said he was on the anti-depressant Cipralex and sleeping medication on the advice of family and friends after he lost a significant amount of weight.

"For many weeks I didn't sleep."

Earlier, he turned to Steenkamp's family and apologised for shooting her.

"I would like to apologise and say there has been no moment since this tragedy happened that I haven't thought about your family."

He said about the night he shot her: "I was simply trying to protect Reeva.

Pistorius has been charged with the murder of Steenkamp and contraventions of the Firearms Control Act.

He said he thought there was an intruder in his house when he shot and killed Steenkamp.

He 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.

"I was simply trying to protect Reeva" - Sapa

Paralympian Oscar Pistorius took the stand in his murder trial on Monday morning to testify about the night he shot dead his girlfriend Reeva Steenkamp.

Pistorius, dressed in a black suit, white shirt and black tie, made his way to the dock after his lawyer Barry Roux indicated he would testify.

Pistorius looked around for his glasses as he walked to the witness box.

He was sworn in while standing and asked to stand while giving evidence.

His lawyer Brian Webber handed him a pillow.

"I would like to take this opportunity to apologise," he said as he stood, slowly turning to his left to face Steenkamp's mother June and relatives sitting in the front row of the public gallery.

The clacking of the laptop keyboards from the journalists in the public gallery intensified as he continued: "...to Mrs Steenkamp, Reeva's family, to those of you who knew her..."

Judge Thokozile Masipa interjected: "I don't like doing this to you, but I can hardly hear you."

He continued: "I wake up every morning and you [her family] are the first people I think of, the first people I pray for...

"I was simply trying to protect Reeva."

He said he could promise her family she felt loved when she went to bed that night.

Pistorius said he used anti-depressants and sleeping tablets after the shooting.

Pistorius's testimony would not be televised as the court ruled only an audio broadcast would be allowed.

Pistorius is on trial for the murder of Steenkamp, who was shot through the locked toilet door of his Pretoria home on February 14 last year. He said he had mistaken her for an intruder.

He has pleaded not guilty to premeditated murder and in his plea statement denied he had argued with Steenkamp shortly before the shooting.

He also faces two charges related to contravening the Firearms Control Act.

The State closed its case on Tuesday last week after it called 21 of the 107 witnesses on its list.

I smell blood in my nightmares: Pistorius - Sapa, Times LIVE

Murder-accused paralympian Oscar Pistorius tearfully took the stand at noon in the High Court in Pretoria on Monday.

Taking the stand in the High Court in Pretoria, a tearful Pistorius said: "I would like to take this opportunity to apologise to Mr and Mrs Steenkamp, to Reeva's family."

"I don't like doing this to you, but I can hardly hear you," interjected Judge Thokozile Masipa.

He continued: "I wake up every morning and you [her family] are the first people I think of, the first people I pray for...

"I was simply trying to protect Reeva."

He said he could promise her family she felt loved when she went to bed that night.

He claims that he had been on antidepressants and sleeping pills since last year.

Pistorius said he's scared to sleep, and that he is suffering from nightmares where he smells blood.

He described a night last year when he woke up terrified and climbed into his cupboard. He called his sister Aimee to be with him.

He is expected to explain how he accidentally shot dead his girlfriend through the locked toilet door of his home on February 14 last year.

Pistorius has been charged with the murder of Steenkamp and contraventions of the Firearms Control Act.

Tweet: ‏@OscarsTrial #OscarPistorius OP says he's scared to sleep - has nightmares, smells blood, didn't sleep for many weeks, lost weight

Tweet: ‏@OscarsTrial  #OscarPistorius OP says he's been on medication since last year - antidepressant, sleeping pills

Tweet: ‏@OscarsTrial #OscarPistorius OP says he wakes up every morning and the Steenkamps are the first people he thinks of and prays for

Tweet: ‏@OscarsTrial #OscarPistorius OP begins by tendering an apology to the Steenkamps. Tearful and soft

PISTORIUS TAKES THE STAND - Sapa

Murder-accused paralympian Oscar Pistorius took the stand at noon in the High Court in Pretoria on Monday.

He was expected to explain how he accidentally shot dead his girlfriend Reeva Steenkamp through the locked toilet door of his home on February 14 last year.

Pistorius has been charged with the murder of Steenkamp and contraventions of the Firearms Control Act.

Tweet: TMG Oscar ‏@OscarsTrial #OscarPistorius and Roux calls Oscar Pistorius to the stand

Tweet: TMG Oscar ‏@OscarsTrial #OscarPistorius Nel finishes and a relieved and irritable Botha is excused

Tweet: TMG Oscar ‏@OscarsTrial #OscarPistorius Nel arguing that if the argument is that shots were fired in rapid succession then Botha's version of order makes less sense

Tweet: TMG Oscar ‏@OscarsTrial #OscarPistorius Roux is finished but because he's said that defence has changed from double tap to rapid succession Nel wants more questions

STEENKAMP'S POSSIBLE RESPONSES ANALYSED - Sape

Even if Reeva Steenkamp had heard Oscar Pistorius shouting that there was an intruder in the house, events could have unfolded too quickly for her to have responded before she was shot dead, the High Court in Pretoria heard on Monday.

Retired pathologist Jan Botha said there would be a lapse of a few seconds for a person being told there was an intruder in the house and the police must be called.

She would have been behind a locked door and would probably have been in a panic.

He said if the shots were fired in four to five seconds and she was struck, she may not have been able to respond.

The court was dealing with whether Steenkamp could have cried out from behind the toilet door before Pistorius shot her dead.

Steenkamp was shot in the hip, arm and head at Pistorius's home on Valentine's Day last year.

Pistorius has been charged with the murder of Steenkamp and contraventions of the Firearms Control Act.

He said he thought there was an intruder in his house when he shot and killed Steenkamp in the early hours of Valentine's Day morning in his toilet last year. She had been spending the night.

He 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.

OSCAR'S DOOR UNDER FRESH SCRUTINY - Sapa

A pathologist was questioned in the High Court in Pretoria on Monday about the bullet holes in the toilet door behind which Reeva Steenkamp was shot dead.

"I never commented on the sequence of holes in the door and their correlation with the sequence of the wounds," pathologist Jan Botha said under cross-examination by prosecutor Gerrie Nel.

Botha was the first defence witness in paralympian Oscar Pistorius's murder trial.

Pistorius shot four times through the locked door of his toilet cubicle, killing his girlfriend, apparently believing she was an intruder.

"You can't divorce the two," Nel challenged him.

He quoted from Botha's statement that "in all probability the sequence was... the first one [shot] was in the hip."

Nel pounced on a statement by Botha that he had taken the height of the holes in the door into account.

Botha replied: "It's not my job to determine which bullet hole corresponded with which wound. That is the ballistician's job."

Pistorius has been charged with the murder of Steenkamp and of contravening of the Firearms Control Act.

He 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.

Pistorius has pleaded not guilty on all the charges.

 

OSCAR: PATHOLOGIST QUERIED - Sapa

A pathologist testifying in Oscar Pistorius's murder trial conceded on Monday that Reeva Steenkamp may have fallen on top of a magazine rack in his toilet cubicle when he shot her.

Retired professor Jan Botha said this under cross-examination by prosecutor Gerrie Nel in the High Court in Pretoria.

This came after he was asked to examine a close-up of an injury to Steenkamp's back and a close up of the weave on the black top she was wearing when she was killed.

Earlier, Botha said he thought Steenkamp had not fallen onto the magazine rack after being shot in the hip, as suggested by State ballistics expert Captain Chris Mangena.

Botha said earlier that in his opinion she would have fallen down against it, but not on top of it.

He believed the injuries on her back were caused by her sliding against the magazine rack, and not from ricochets from the "black talon" bullets Pistorius used.

This was because there was blood spatter from Steenkamp's injuries on the front of the rack but not inside it.

Botha said, after looking at the pictures of the wound and the weave of the top Steenkamp wore when she died: "It is far more likely now that this has been brought to my attention that this was caused by a magazine rack rather than the weave."

Under questioning from Nel, he said he did not put it in his report because he did not consider it.

Sounding irritated, he told Nel that he was not working for the accused or the defence, he was just trying to help the court.

Pistorius has denied guilt on a charge of deliberately killing Steenkamp.

He said he thought there was an intruder in his house when he shot dead Steenkamp in the early hours of Valentine's Day in his toilet last year. She had been spending the night.

Pistorius also faces two charges under the Firearms Control Act.

He 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 also pleaded not guilty to these charges.

Tweet: TMG Oscar ‏@OscarsTrial #OscarPistorius Botha says marks consistent with injuries caused by black talon ammo where bullet jacket has separated from the core

Tweet: TMG Oscar ‏@OscarsTrial #OscarPistorius Botha finds it hard to reconcile marks on RS' back with Mangena's ricochet theory

Tweet: TMG Oscar ‏@OscarsTrial #OscarPistorius Nel finishes with Botha, Roux re-examines

Tweet: TMG Oscar ‏@OscarsTrial #OscarPistorius Nel - on OP's version he shouted for intruders to get out while RS was in toilet and this would make her fearful

Tweet: TMG Oscar ‏@OscarsTrial #OscarPistorius Botha says he took height of bullet holes into account when making his finding

Tweet: TMG Oscar ‏@OscarsTrial #OscarPistorius Botha says he's not sure about sequence of holes in door only on sequence of wounds to body

PISTORIUS KEEPS HEAD DOWN - Sapa

Paralympian Oscar Pistorius kept his head down and his palms pressed to his ears during most of the morning session of his murder trial in the High Court in Pretoria on Monday.

While cross-examining pathologist Jan Botha, prosecutor Gerrie Nel had a photograph of wounds in Reeva Steenkamp's back displayed on screens around the court.

They were caused by bullet fragments that ricocheted off the tiled wall in the toilet cubicle in Pistorius's home where she was shot on February 14 last year. The photo shows two dark holes, one larger and the other smaller.

Nel had the photograph enlarged to the point where the fine, white hairs in Steenkamp's skin were visible.

"Do you see the railway line, then a gap, a railway line, and a gap?" Nel asked Botha, referring to striations visible in the wound.

He was challenging Botha's claim that there were similar marks on the magazine rack in the toilet cubicle.

A second photo shown in court showed a close-up of a fragment of Steenkamp's hair embedded in tissue stuck to the inside of the toilet lid.

"That would mean her head was very close to that area?" Nel asked, referring to the moment she was shot in the head.

"I agree," Botha replied.

As soon as court adjourned for tea, Pistorius's brother Carl and sister Aimee came to sit on either side of him in the witness box and put their arms around him.

A member of his defence team, Brian Webber, also came and a put a hand on his shoulder as he sat bent over, his face in his hands.

Pistorius has been charged with the murder of Steenkamp and of contravening the Firearms Control Act.

He 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.

Nel proves why he is known as "the bulldog" - Tymon Smith

The seventeenth day of the Oscar Pistorius murder trial began with testimony by former state pathologist Dr Jan Botha.

Botha, testifying for the defence, said that the science of determining the time of Reeva Steenkamp's last meal using gastric emptying was an inexact and controversial branch of pathology.

He said that the conclusion of pathologist Gert Saayman, who performed an autopsy on Steenkamp, that she had eaten a meal one to two hours before her death was not possible to ascertain with any certainty.

In his subsequent testimony related to the determination of the order of shots based on his examination of the wounds on Steenkamp's body, Botha agreed with previous evidence by the state's ballistics expert, Captain Christian Mangena, that the first shot had hit Steenkamp in the hip and the fourth shot was a fatal shot to the head.

Pistorius, who seemingly struggled to keep his composure during Botha's testimony, watched as prosecutor Gerrie Nel revealed why his nickname is "the bulldog" during his cross-examination of Botha.

Nel repeatedly asked Botha why he had made deductions about the order of shots without reference to the bullet holes on Pistorius's bathroom door. He succeeded in getting the pathologist to admit that Saayman's conclusion regarding the time of Steenkamp's last meal "might be right or might be wrong."

Nel's cross-examination continues after the tea adjournment.

The defence announced earlier today that it will call between 14 and 17 witnesses to testify to issues such as ballistics, blood spatter, lighting and visibility, vulnerability and disability.

TEARS IN TEA BREAK - Sapa

Paralympian Oscar Pistorius broke down during the tea adjournment on day 17 of his murder trial in the High Court in Pretoria on Monday.

The defence opened its case and called forensic pathologist Prof Jan Botha.

Pistorius sat in the dock and covered his face with his hands and put his thumbs into his ears as Botha spoke about which bullet hit his girlfriend Reeva Steenkamp where. A green bucket was placed on the floor next to the athlete.

During tea, Pistorius was joined in the dock by his older brother Carl and younger sister Aimee. The three were huddled in a group and the athlete broke down and cried. They embraced him and Aimee rubbed his back while other family members stood nearby. A short while later they left the courtroom.

Pistorius is on trial for the murder of Steenkamp, who was shot through the locked toilet door of his Pretoria home on February 14 last year. He said he had mistaken her for an intruder. However, the State's case is that it was premeditated murder.

He has pleaded not guilty and in his plea statement denied he had argued with his girlfriend shortly before the shooting.

Pistorius also faces two charges related to contravening the Firearms Control Act.

Prosecutor Gerrie Nel cross-examined Botha on the sequence of wounds Steenkamp sustained.

Her mother June Steenkamp bowed her head as images of her daughter's wounds were shown on the TV screens in court.

Steenkamp's friends and family present in court turned their heads away from the screen as the close-ups of wounds were shown.

STATE TAKES OFF THE GLOVES IN OSCAR TRIAL - Sapa

Prosecutor Gerrie Nel confronted the first defence witness testifying at Oscar Pistorius's murder trial in the High Court in Pretoria on Monday.

Retired pathologist Jan Botha had testified that he believed Pistorius shot his girlfriend Reeva Steenkamp first in the hip, then the arm, then the head in about four seconds, and then she died probably without being able to call out.

Botha, who has two fellowships in anatomical pathology under his belt, presented this evidence to Pistorius's lawyer Barry Roux SC, who has gained a reputation for exhausting every avenue in pursuit of an acquittal for his client.

At the first opportunity, Nel grilled Botha on his theory of the sequence of wounds, occasionally bringing the grey-haired professor to the point of irritation as he said: "I am not a ballistician".

Nel said: "You stood there, you gave evidence, you told the court, you said 'I know what the sequence is'."

"I said 'I believe', I didn't say 'I know', I'm not that presumptuous Mr Nel," Botha reacted.

Nel took Botha through the shot-by-shot sequence of Steenkamp's last moments in the early hours of Valentine's Day last year when Pistorius shot her as she was in the toilet cubicle of his Pretoria home.

Pistorius held his hands over his head when Botha described any anatomical details, but made a quick recovery to watch the adversarial exchanges between the two.

The court adjourned for tea.

Pistorius has been charged with the murder of Steenkamp and contraventions of the Firearms Control Act. He said he thought there was an intruder in his house when he shot and killed Steenkamp, who had been spending the night.

He 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.

NEL BEGINS QUESTIONING PATHOLOGIST - Sapa

Prosecutor Gerrie Nel began cross-examining the defence's forensic pathologist in Oscar Pistorius's murder trial in the High Court in Pretoria on Monday.

Unlike when he led State witnesses in giving evidence, Nel raised his voice, spoke rapidly, and turned and pointed at Jan Botha as he questioned him.

Nel and Botha became involved in a brief debate on the "collar of abrasion" left in Reeva Steenkamp's hip by the first bullet that Pistorius shot at her through the locked toilet door of his home on February 14 last year.

"A collar of abrasion" is caused when a bullet strikes a body at an angle.

"Bring me any publication where somebody would support you that you can make any conclusion about the collar of abrasion after it has passed through a door," Nel challenged Botha.

Nel quoted from State witness Prof Gert Saayman's evidence that the collar was "irregular". Saayman conducted the autopsy on Steenkamp.

"What do you mean by irregular?" Botha snapped at him.

"Was it irregular because it wasn't concentric or because the margins differed considerably?" Botha persisted.

"We'll deal with that," Nel replied tersely.

Pistorius has been charged with the murder of Steenkamp and contraventions of the Firearms Control Act. He 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.

Tweet: ‏@OscarsTrial #OscarPistorius OP's pit his head down and keeping it there as Nel shows photos of blood splattered toilet

REEVA WOULD HAVE DIED QUICKLY - Sapa

Reeva Steenkamp would have died within seconds after her boyfriend Oscar Pistorius shot her in the head, the High Court in Pretoria heard on Monday.

"I don't think she survived very long thereafter," testified retired pathologist Jan Botha as Pistorius rocked forward with his hand pulled over his head while listening to the evidence.

Botha said the four shots fired at Steenkamp that hit her thigh, arm and finally her head would have taken about four seconds, five at most.

Steenkamp would have been filled with emotions of shock, fear, possibly pain.

He testified that after being hit in the thigh, in his opinion, she slid down, was hit again in the arm and then in the head.

She would have had very little blood in her upper respiratory cavity.

"So I think death ensued very quickly after sustaining the head injury," said Botha.

Asked by Pistorius's lawyer, Barry Roux SC, if she could have called out as the shots were fired he said: "I think it's highly unlikely that she would have been able to call out."

He said: "Before she could react the remaining bullets would have struck her."

Pistorius has been charged with the murder of Steenkamp and contraventions of the Firearms Control Act. He said he thought there was an intruder in his house when he shot and killed Steenkamp in the early hours of Valentine's Day morning in his toilet last year. She had been spending the night.

He 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.

TIME OF REEVA'S LAST MEAL QUESTIONED - Sapa

A forensic pathologist cast doubt on a State witness's testimony that Reeva Steenkamp ate about two hours before her death, the High Court in Pretoria heard on Monday.

"Professor Saayman testified that her last meal could have been between an hour to two hours before her death. What do you say to that?" Barry Roux, for murder accused paralympian Oscar Pistorius, asked pathologist Jan Botha.

"It could have been an hour or two, or it could have been considerably longer," Botha said. He was the first witness to testify for the defence.

Roux asked him if it was possible to determine accurately the time between Steenkamp's last meal and her death.

"I do not think so," he replied.

Roux was attempting to cast doubt on evidence by Prof Gert Saayman, who conducted the autopsy on Steenkamp, and who testified for the State previously.

Pistorius is expected to testify in his defence his week, to explain how, according to him, he accidentally shot dead his girlfriend Steenkamp through the locked toilet door of his home on February 14 last year.

Pistorius has been charged with the murder of Steenkamp and contraventions of the Firearms Control Act. He 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.

FORENSIC PATHOLOGIST TESTIFIES - Sapa

A forensic pathologist cautioned against using gastric emptying to determine a time of death, as Oscar Pistorius's trial for the murder of his girlfriend Reeva Pistorius resumed in the High Court in Pretoria on Monday.

This was his lawyer Barry Roux's opening gambit, designed to throw doubt on the State's evidence that Steenkamp's last meal was probably around two hours before Pistorius shot her dead on February 14 after 3am --contradicting his bail statement that they went to bed at 10pm the night before.

Retired pathologist Jan Botha said: "It is a highly controversial and inexact science."

He said studies on which theories were based usually used a porridge-like substance, which was unlike most modern meals.

Studies suggest that a light meal takes about two to three hours to digest, a medium meal five hours and a heavy meal significantly longer. Emptying depends on factors that include calories and psychological factors.

Steenkamp's stomach contents, as described by the State's pathologist Gert Saayman, included vegetable matter and a white cheese-like substance.

Botha said that since a recent Canadian study, the use of gastric emptying as a yardstick to establish time of death had waned considerably.

Textbooks were now warning against using experimental evidence and extrapolating it to forensic evidence.

He said that while one could see "general trends" it was "hazardous" to extrapolate to a specific case.

Botha is one of up to 17 witnesses who could testify in Pistorius's defence and asked that he take the stand before Pistorius because of family reasons.

The paralympic athlete shot Steenkamp through a locked toilet door at his Pretoria home on Valentine's Day last year. He claims he mistook her for an intruder and has pleaded not guilty to murder.

He has also pleaded not guilty to charges relating to the negligent use of a firearm after a shot was allegedly fired out of the sunroof of a car and a shot was fired at a restaurant in Melrose Arch.

Tweet: @GraemeHosken  #OscarPistorius defence pathologist testifies first shot to hit Reeva was probably to the hip Oscar reteches

Tweet: ‏@OscarsTrial #OscarPistorius Botha says after first shot to hip RS' movements would have been largely of a reflexive nature, unconscious movement

Tweet: ‏@OscarsTrial #OscarPistorius Botha says that if shots were fired in rapid succession highly unlikely that RS would have been able to scream

Tweet: ‏@OscarsTrial #OscarPistorius as Botha describes effects of each shot OP struggling to keep composure - head far down, hands over head

Tweet: ‏@GraemeHosken #OscarPistorius #OscarTrial @TimesLIVE Oscar bows his head in dock as his pathologist describes extent of reevas wounds + how she was killed

DEFENCE TO CALL AT LEAST 14 WITNESSES - Sapa

Oscar Pistorius's defence intends calling between 14 and 17 witnesses to testify in the paralympian's murder trial, his lawyer Barry Roux told the High Court in Pretoria on Monday.

They would give evidence on matters including wound ballistics, sound, gastric emptying, lighting, disability, and the cricket bat marks Pistorius made in the door of his toilet, Roux told the court.

Judge Thokozile Masipa granted Roux's request that pathologist Jan Botha testify before Pistorius. Prosecutor Gerrie Nel had no objection to this. Roux said Botha had to do so for "family health reasons".

Botha said wound ballistics was "the study of the effects of a projectile on human tissue".

Pistorius is expected to testify in his defence this week, to explain how, according to him, he accidentally shot dead his girlfriend Reeva Steenkamp through the locked toilet door of his home on February 14 last year.

Pistorius has been charged with the murder of Steenkamp and contraventions of the Firearms Control Act.

He 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.

PISTORIUS ESCORTED INTO COURT - Sapa

Murder accused paralympian Oscar Pistorius was escorted into court room GD of the High Court in Pretoria by several police officers on Monday morning.

A throng of journalists was already waiting outside the room at 8.45am, for the start of proceedings at 9.30am.

"Now the world waits to hear from Pistorius himself," an American television journalist boomed as he and a cameraman rehearsed his report outside the court room.

In the past few weeks, Pistorius entered the court alone through a side entrance once the public and journalists were already seated.

Pistorius is expected to testify in his defence this week, to explain how, according to him, he accidentally shot dead his girlfriend Reeva Steenkamp through the locked toilet door of his home on February 14 last year.

Pistorius has been charged with the murder of Steenkamp and contraventions of the Firearms Control Act. He 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.

OSCAR MURDER TRIAL RESUMES - Sapa

The murder trial of paralympian Oscar Pistorius will resume in the High Court in Pretoria on Monday.

Pistorius will most probably not be the first defence witness to take to the stand on day 17 in his murder trial, his lawyers said on Tuesday.

Brian Webber, who is on Pistorius's legal team, said it was likely that pathologist Jan Botha would be the first defence witness to be called.

"He [Botha] has personal reasons as to why he wants to testify first," said Webber.

The paralympic athlete is on trial for the murder of his model and law graduate girlfriend Reeva Steenkamp. He shot her dead through a locked toilet door at his Pretoria home on Valentine's Day last year. He claims he mistook her for an intruder.

However, the State argues it was premeditated murder. It closed its case on March 25, after calling 21 witnesses, from a list of 107, in 15 days, including Pistorius's ex-girlfriend Samantha Taylor, his friends and several of neighbours.

Pistorius has hired forensic experts to describe what happened in the early hours of Valentine's Day last year.

University of Cape Town law lecturer Kelly Phelps earlier told Sapa that Pistorius needed to testify to prove that he mistakenly believed Steenkamp was an intruder.

Wits School of Law Professor Stephen Tuson said Pistorius risked conviction if he did not testify.

"If he does testify, he should testify first to prevent an accusation that he tailored his evidence," said Tuson.

"The defence do not want the prosecution to say the evidence of the accused was tailored to match the evidence of the witnesses."

Pistorius's trial began in the High Court in Pretoria on March 3.

The trial was postponed on March 28, after one of the judge's assessors fell ill.

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Fri Aug 22 17:41:09 SAST 2014 ::