True crime and trial opinions from a layman's perspective
Pieter Baba, security leader, is back on the stand.
Roux brings out the phone records and gives copies to the court. The phone numbers are not read in court for privacy purposes.
The following are calls to the security land line on February 14, 2013:
Dr. Stipp was the first to call security.
His call went through at 3:15:51am. He reported hearing gunshots. Call lasted 16 seconds.
Mr. Nhlengethwa is the second to call security
His call was first attempted at 3:16:16am with no answer
His call went through at 3:16:36am. He reported shots heard.
The following are calls to the security cell phone number on February 14, 2013:
3:21:33am – Oscar calls Baba from one of his cell phones. Call lasted 9 seconds. Oscar was only crying, didn’t speak during this call.
3:22:05am – Baba’s call to Oscar where Oscar states “everything is fine”. The length of this phone call is not read by Roux.
According to Baba: “My Lady, I called Oscar first and Mr. Pistorious told me everything was fine, and before I could speak, the line went dead. A few seconds later Mr. Pistorius called me and there was just crying, then the line went dead again.”
Roux and Baba are going around and around on who called who first. Mr. Baba is insistent that he did and he stated such in his police statement. I’m not sure how they can rectify this difference in the phone records.
Baba then next says: “If I had accepted Mr. Pistorious’ word that ‘everything is fine’ and left his premises, what would have happened?” Good question! I wonder too.
This is my own interjection here but I did get the distinct impression from both Dr. Stipp’s testimony and Baba’s testimony that Oscar wanted to handle this situation in his own way. He called Stander first for a reason. We can only speculate what that was, but the fact remains that he chose to call Stander, who I understand now is the estate administrator. He is not security, as I may have previously reported, nor is he emergency personnel. So what is his relationship to Oscar? We have yet to find out.
Baba also ponders on stand: If Oscar had heard an intruder, why didn’t he call the security right away (there were numerous cell phones and land lines in the house to use) and why did he not just activate his security alarm? More good questions.
Again interjecting, this is what leaves everybody scratching their heads. He was in a home that was surrounded by tall walls and electrical fence, there were 2 guard dogs outside, security guards patroling all night long, they were on stand-by on their phones, and he had a security alarm. It doesn’t get much safer than that. This supposed intruder that Oscar thought he was up against was behind a closed door. Why not just utilize all of his security resources and get the hell out of the house. He was in no immediate obvious danger – he didn’t see anybody, he didn’t hear voices, nobody spoke to him, there were no signs of forced entry, there was nothing.. Of course, getting out of the house would require getting Reeva first. And he made no effort to locate her that night. His only option was to immediately kill the person or persons in that room… an enclosed toilet room… where burglars frequently go when they break in to a house.
He is not claiming to be drunk that night, he does not claim amnesia, he does not claim mental illness or any other type of mental dysfunction that evening. That means that he willfully and knowingly acted as he did. All of his statements leave you with the impression that he had no other solution but to kill. But if you go back to his own version of events, you can find many other far more reasonable alternatives to rectify the situation.
He claims the room was pitch black. Remember, he was the one who made it that way. He had supposedly just closed the door and curtains behind him. If he heard a noise and was too afraid to turn on a light, why not just crack the curtain an inch to see. Again, he had just gotten out of bed, walked across the room and brought in 1 (or 2) fans from the balcony (he has reported changed his story to 2 fans). He could obviously see at that time. It’s all very convenient this “darkness” in the room. Yet, the neighbor testified they saw a light on.
Back to Baba… Baba’s first statement to police was at 1:00pm on February 14. He states that he gave his initial statement at the end of his shift. He was very tired and still in shock over the whole situation. In his first statement he couldn’t describe how Oscar carried Reeva down the stairs or what Oscar was wearing.
But then he testifies that he later gave a second statement and in that statement he was able to describe that Oscar carried Reeva down the stairs with her head facing toward the railing. It sounds like he also was able to recall the clothing that was worn but they do not reveal details at this point in the testimony.
Roux questions why he has suddenly remembered these details in his second statement. Baba reiterates that he was in shock after this incident and was very tired. He was not able to pull the details together until he had time to digest and think about it (paraphrasing).
Baba is excused.
Next to the stand is Professor Gert Saayman, the Medical Examiner who conducted the autopsy.
Earlier this morning, Saayman spoke with Nel and asked that they petition the court to cut the live feed during his testimony. He feels that ethically it should not be broadcast due to the graphic nature of the testimony. Both Nel and Roux agree with Saayman. After legal arguments are heard, including from a media lawyer, the Judge decides that she will block the live feed and will block live tweeting. Reporters are allowed to report on the information but they need to summarize. They cannot directly quote the medical examiner.
My two cents, how in the world can she make this ruling? Trials are public affairs. The public has a right to this information. I agree and support the suppression of images, out of respect and dignity for the deceased and their family. But ALL testimony in a trial is extremely important. It tells the whole story and lends transparency to the verdict that will ultimately be decided. The courts should not and cannot pick and choose what the public gets to hear. I adamantly disagree with this decision. Now we have news outlets from all over the world summarizing in their own words what they heard, and there will no doubt be inaccurate reporting.
As Dr. Saayman begins his testimony, Oscar is reported to be repeatedly vomiting and rocking back and forth in the courtroom. They had to bring him a bucket. The Judge inquires about his well-being. Roux speaks with Oscar and tells the Judge that he won’t be ok with this testimony but please proceed. They do take a break at one point but as soon as they come back, he starts retching again. Apparently he did this for a long stretch of time throughout the testimony.
As a human being, I can’t help but have a pang of sadness over how broken this man now is. It’s tragic and such a waste. But then I immediately come back to the true victims of this crime, Reeva and her loved ones, and I am very angry that he had the nerve to be walking around with a gun with hollow point bullets, reportedly using it whenever and however he chose. His choices robbed a human being of her life. Now he is having a total meltdown in court. This is what guns do. It’s horrific. He was the one who chose to carry and use that weapon.
This whole break down in court today is very telling to me. He and his defense team obviously had this autopsy information for the past year. This is not new information to him. He is breaking down for other reasons. We can only speculate what they are. Is he sobbing for Reeva or sobbing for his own lost life? Is he completely freaked out that the world now knows exactly how badly Reeva suffered at his hand and he can’t hide from this anymore? Or is there just something simply very wrong with him? Its as if he had absolutely no control yesterday. It wasn’t just a mournful man that we saw, it was reported that he was literally writhing in his chair, plugging his ears, hiding his face, puking… completely coming undone. I really am starting to think there is something wrong with him, I just have no idea what it is.
And sadly, speaking of how badly Reeva suffered…
Below is a compilation of the injuries to Reeva, per the Medical Examiner, as reported by various news outlets. They cannot quote the ME directly but they can summarize his evidence. (Warning: GRAPHIC)
Reeva’s body was nude when it was given to the Medical Examiner. The clothing that she was wearing that night and was given to the ME were a pair of Nike shorts and a black tank top (or vest, as described by the ME, which I understand is a common way to describe a tank in South Africa).
A small 5mm hole was found on the shorts, along with blood spatter. Tissue and bone fragments were found on the tank. Also some tears and small bullet fragments on the tank were reported as well. We have not seen images of the clothing, so we can only go by what is reported by the media.
The bullets used were “Ranger” bullets that are designed to cause the maximum damage on your victim. They mushroom on impact and cause very extreme damage to the tissue. This is not a crime scene photo, just a photo of the bullet type to use as reference.
• Likely that one of the bullets had passed through Reeva’s upper right arm and into her head.
• A bullet entered Reeva’s head in the right upper part, and ran under the skull before it exited from a second wound in the head.
• A bulk of the projectile went into the brain.
• Upper eyelids were blue-reddish.
• Soft tissue swelling but no injury to the eyes.
• Reeva did not take more than a few breaths after suffering her head wound.
• The wound to her head was an incapacitating wound.
• There was physical damage to the brain because of a substantial fracture to the base of the skull, not caused by direct trauma (indicates caused by projectile impact)
• A bullet wound to her right hip, 92cm from the ground. Small 5mm hole found on shorts.
• Right hip bone was shattered and this was likely to cause immediate instability.
• A bullet that hit the hip was so fragmented it was impossible to retrieve fragments.
• This would have been a “painful wound.”
• The injuries to her arm and her right groin or hip area could have been fatal.
• She would have collapsed and, unless she had something to grip onto, it would have been difficult to get back up.
• Incapacitating injury that if not operated on immediately could be fatal. He said there was a 50/50 chance of surviving the injury.
• A blue discoloration on her inner right buttocks that could have been caused from the bullet wound to her right hip.
• Right arm was shattered, leaving it with no functionality.
• Right upper arm had a bluish discoloration surrounding that wound.
• Upper left arm was deformed due to the amount of fracture. (*It is unclear if this was a mistake by a reporter, perhaps they meant to say right arm. There was no other evidence reported of an injury to the left arm.)
OTHER INJURIES AND DETAILS
• Other wounds were caused by multiple small fragments. There was bruising on skin around the wounds.
• A grouping of abrasions, superficial fractures, on the skin of the torso. These were not penetrating injuries.
• Injuries to her left groin, but these were superficial small abrasions, possibly caused by wooden splinters from the door.
• A wound on the left hand that was between her second and third finger.
Abrasions on her body suggested damage from a blunt object, or projectiles that lost the force to penetrate the skin.
• A few bruises on her body that were not as a result of the shooting located on the upper part of the right thigh, behind the left knee and on the left shin.
• A reddish bruise on the right nipple, could have been caused by frictional contact.
• Two scratches on her back, could have been caused by a blunt object or shrapnel.
• There were splinters reported in and around some of the wounds. It was believed that the hollow point bullets, when they went through the door, collected splinters and embedded them in to the body.
Dr. Saayman will be back on the stand tomorrow to wrap up with Nel and have cross-examination with Roux.