True crime and trial opinions from a layman's perspective
Nel begins the day by presenting an application to the court to take a two week postponement beginning on Friday due to professional and personal commitments. He requests that they return on May 5. The Judge will consider this request over night.
Oscar is on the stand and Nel asks him, on his version, is it correct that Reeva must have opened the bathroom window and he says yes. Nel wants to know if she did this before or after she went to the toilet. He answers, before.
Nel reviews the basic steps that Oscar took after hearing the noise (the window opening):
1. He retrieves his gun from underneath the bed
2. Walks to passage and screams
Nel stops here and says, on your version, she must have had time to void her bladder and get dressed. Nel points out to him that she had her clothes on, including shorts pulled up, when she was shot. Oscar says yes, she had clothes on when she went to bed. She was wearing basketball shorts.
They are able to establish that she would have done the following all before slamming the toilet door shut and locking it (presumably out of fear from Oscar’s screaming, according to his version):
1. Walked to the bathroom undetected
2. Opened the window
3. Voided bladder in toilet
4. Pulled up shorts
Nel tells Oscar that he does not believe that she would have had time to do all of this prior to him screaming. Oscar says he disagrees.
Nel then has another few go-arounds with Oscar about his tailoring skills, in particular as it relates to the magazine rack being the “wood moving” that he heard behind the door.
They move on to the jeans in the bedroom that were found inside out. Nel wants to know why these jeans were left like this when everything else that Reeva had was neatly packed. Oscar is not sure.
Nel says it indicates that she had to take them off quickly. Oscar says when he got home that night she was already in her pajamas in the kitchen and considering she had only gotten home a few minutes before him, she probably was in a hurry to get changed and go downstairs.
Nel theorizes that during the argument she wanted to leave and had to get undressed quickly.
Oscar says he doesn’t see how that makes sense. If she wanted to leave quickly, why would she have to get undressed and then put on Oscar’s clothing (the shorts and tank must have been his)? Wouldn’t she have just left in what she was wearing?
I actually agree, I’m not following Nel on this line of thought. Nel says to Oscar he hears what he’s saying but he’ll deal with it in argument.
Nel then picks up where they left off yesterday. Oscar is on the bed, with his gun next to him, putting on his prosthetic legs. He ran back to the bathroom and ran in to the door with his shoulder, nothing happened. He grabbed the handle and tried to shoulder charge the door, nothing happened. He backed up and then kicked the door, nothing happened.
Nel then asks, “You did all this knowing that the door opens out, right?” Oscar says that’s right. Great observation by Nel.
He ran to get the cricket bat and ran back to the bathroom.
The first time he hit the door he was screaming. He hit the frame of the door and got a shock. He wanted to hit the door a little more on the left (I think he meant right) because he thought if Reeva is inside he didn’t want the plank to hit her. He hit the door and it broke.
Nel asks him if he was screaming when he hit the door and Oscar replies that he was screaming the whole time. So Nel goes back to when he’s on the bed putting on his prosthetics and asks if he was screaming then. Oscar says he was screaming the entire time. He was screaming for the Lord to help him and yelling out for Reeva.
Nel asks, “that continued in to the bathroom?” Oscar says that’s correct. He was also screaming while he’s hitting the door.
Nel asks Oscar when he placed the gun on the carpet.
Oscar answers that he put it down when he ran back in to the bathroom with the cricket bat.
Nel asks him so you ran in to the door with your shoulder, shoulder-charged it, with the cocked gun in your hand?
Oscar says his right shoulder was injured so he charged with his left side.
Nel wants to understand, so you have the cocked gun in your right hand and you’re shoulder charging with your left shoulder, holding the door handle with your left hand. Oscar says that’s correct.
Nel asks him, so you hit the door with your left shoulder because of your injury and Oscar says no. He tries to explain that since the door handle faces to the left, it’s better to grab it with his left hand and lean in to the door to give more leverage.
Nel asks him, if you wanted to do anything possible to get that door open, why would you still be running around with a gun in your hand? Oscar says he doesn’t know. Nel tells him because it’s not true.
Nel asks Oscar, you also kicked the door with the gun in your hand? He says, that’s correct.
Oscar says he was crying out and screaming the whole time, yelling “Reeva, Reeva”. He was overcome with “terror and despair.”
He ran to get the cricket bat and went back to the bathroom. Oscar says he hit the door three times.
Nel has Oscar get up to demonstrate how he hit the door. He is wearing his prosthetics. This is done off camera.
Nel summarizes for the record that in both instances Oscar was standing in front of the door to the left. Back foot was about 1 meter (3 feet) away and front foot was about 30cm (1 foot) away from door. Oscar looked at the marks and hit the marks but Nel believes that (if he wasn’t looking at those existing marks) he would have hit the door higher than he is doing right now.
Oscar says after he hit the door a small piece (the right panel) of wood broke off. He peered in to the toilet and saw Reeva. He tried to unlock the door but there was no key. He then grabbed the bigger piece of panel and ripped it out into the bathroom. While leaning over he saw the key on the floor. He picked it up, unlocked the door and flung it open.
Reeva was sitting on the floor to the right of the toilet. She was seated on her right buttock with her right arm on top of the toilet bowl. Her head was resting on her right shoulder. Nel shows Oscar a photo so we can understand the position.
Oscar says the magazine rack was not where it is seen in this photo. He goes on to say that her head was on the toilet bowl where you can see the blood and her legs were where the white circle is seen on the photo.
Nel asks Oscar where the magazine rack was and he says to the far right against the two walls.
Nel shows Oscar another photo and Oscar points out again that the magazine rack was not where it is seen. Nel points out the long wood panel that is seen in the toilet room and asks him where that was and he doesn’t know.
Nel asks, so the magazine rack was to the right of the panel? Oscar says that’s correct.
Oscar crouched down over Reeva and put his left arm underneath her right arm and checked to see if she was breathing or had a pulse. He didn’t feel that she did so he pulled her on top of him. At that point he heard her breathing so he immediately tried to pick her up and get her out.
He wasn’t able to pick her up so he scuffled around with his legs which he theorizes is how the magazine rack got moved, he may have kicked it. At this point he was seated against the left hand part of the door frame inside the toilet room with Reeva’s weight on top of him. He managed to turn her around and get her on the ground.
This does not seem likely to me. I think the blood pool and droplets inside the toilet would have been much more disturbed if Oscar was “scuffling around” with his legs as he says he was.
Nel asks him if he remembers kicking the magazine rack or if that is a reconstruction? Oscar says he doesn’t remember, he’s guessing. But he does remember that it wasn’t there when he picked her up.
He placed her half way between the toilet room and the frame. (this is presumably where there is a pool of blood seen just outside the toilet door.)
He was trying to pick her up but he couldn’t. He then moved her in to the bathroom. He next saw her phone which was in the toilet room located where the long wood plank was.
Nel asks him if there was anything wrong with the phone. Oscar says no. He couldn’t make a call out for help because she had a passcode and he didn’t know it. Nel asks if the phone was on and he says yes.
Oscar said he then dropped her phone and ran to his room to get his phones. Nel asks, “you dropped the phone?” Oscar answers, “that’s correct, my Lady. Well, I put it down. I dropped it or put it down, I don’t remember.”
He ran to the left hand side of his bed where his cell phones were and he grabbed them and ran back to be with Reeva. He called Johan Stander to come over and help him pick her up.
Nel then asks, “keeping in mind your version that the scenes were tampered with and/or changed, is there anything wrong with this photograph?”
Instead of answering the question, Oscar talks about how the investigators’ own photos differed so it’s hard to know from any photo which one is the right placement. He doesn’t remember putting down the gun, he doesn’t remember placing the cricket bat, etc.
Nel asks him, “you don’t have an independent recollection of where you put the gun?” Oscar says no and neither with the bat.
Nel points out the phone and asks him if it’s possible that he put it there.
Oscar says it is possible. Nel asks him if it’s possible that the cover was off. Oscar says he believes there’s another photo where the phone is in the same position but the cover is on, but he concedes that it’s possible that he dropped the phone and the cover came off.
Nel asks about his white phone. Nel asks if it’s possible that it was found underneath the towels. Oscar’s response, “I don’t remember placing the phone anywhere my Lady, so it is possible.”
Nel wants to confirm that he doesn’t have any specific recollection of the items in the bathroom that he is saying police tampered with; he is basically only claiming tampering by referencing photographs. Oscar responds, “all my references with the photographs, there was a lot of tampering that I could see, but with reference to what I remembered from that morning to the photos, um, I wouldn’t be able to say what I remember and what I don’t remember, my Lady.”
Oscar continues with the story, he called Johan Stander, and then he called 02911 (Netcare). He asked the operator what to do and the operator said that he should take Reeva to the closest hospital and shouldn’t wait for an ambulance.
I’d like to point out that on direct he testified that he did not remember what he said to the operator. He only remembered what the operator said to him. His testimony has changed. Again.
Nel then asks, were you still screaming? Oscar says no, he was crying.
Nel wants to know, so when you finally found Reeva in the toilet room were you screaming then? Oscar says no. Nel says to him, wouldn’t that be the time that you start screaming? This is when you first know for sure that it is her behind that door. Doesn’t it make sense that you would scream at that point?
Oscar doesn’t understand the purpose of screaming at that point. He says he was sad and crying.
Nel asks him, what was the purpose of screaming when you were hitting the door? Oscar says because he was in panic.
Nel points out that according to the ear witnesses, there were no more screams after the shots at 3:17pm. This is why he can’t be screaming at this stage. His story has to match what they heard. Only, Oscar wants everyone to believe it was the cricket bat and not the gun at 3:17pm.
Nel says he doesn’t understand. His panic should be at its greatest when he finally saw her through the broken door. Oscar says panic is not-knowing. When he saw Reeva he was broken and overcome with sadness.
I agree with Nel that this does not make sense. How does he know she’s dead only by peeking through the door? He should be freaking out at this point not knowing if he can save her or not. He wouldn’t immediately go straight to sad.
Oscar then says he doesn’t remember calling Baba, but from phone records he did make a call to him. The only inference he can make from this call is that he wanted Baba to come help him pick up Reeva because he couldn’t get her up from the floor.
Nel says, but he then called you, what happened then? Oscar doesn’t remember this either. Nel tells Oscar that Baba’s testimony is you said “everything is fine.” Oscar says this doesn’t make sense. Nel proclaims, you didn’t want security there. Oscar says, “then I never would have phoned them in the first place.” Nel points out to Oscar that he never spoke to him on that call. He says, wasn’t that call just a mistake?
Oscar gets a little agitated here and says he would have needed to look up the security number, implying that it was an intentional call.
Nel says to him, but they called you back and now they are talking to you and you spoke to them. Oscar says he doesn’t remember that. Nel says according to Baba, Oscar knew who he was talking to and he responded to the question that was asked of him. Nel wants to know why he can’t remember that. Oscar can’t explain.
This is so blatantly a lie. He can remember speaking to Stander no problem. He can remember calling Netcare no problem. He mysteriously can’t fully remember what he said to Netcare, but nevertheless remembers the call. And then one minute later, there’s a third call, one with Baba, and that is just nowhere in his memory. It just doesn’t exist. He wants to stay as far away from the “everything is fine” statement and the only way to do that is to say that he doesn’t remember.
He then managed to pick Reeva up and walked with her to the bottom of the staircase. He was met by Johan and Clarice Stander. He told them to help him get Reeva in to the car. They told him to put her down, the ambulance is on the way. Oscar says he argued with them and pleaded with them to let him just take her to the hospital. They said Ozzy, just put her down. So he placed her down.
Nel says Dr. Stipp and the paramedics arrived next, but it’s not of importance to review that portion of the story.
But Nel does ask, “you also phoned Mr. Devaris?” Oscar says that’s correct but he’s not sure if he spoke with him or if somebody called him. He believes from phone records that this call took place around 4am when Oscar was in the kitchen. He magically doesn’t remember this call either. I would love to know what they discussed.
Nel asks Oscar how his phone got downstairs in the kitchen. Oscar says he had his phone with him in his pocket when he left the bathroom. Nel asks him why he did that. Why wouldn’t he just drop it when he picked Reeva up? Oscar said he needed it to communicate or if the ambulance needed to phone him back. Nel says, “so you thought about that and you kept your phone with you?” Oscar says after he made the phone call, he put the phone in his pocket and picked Reeva up.
Now go back to the scene in the bathroom. Remember, Oscar’s other iPhone (the white one) was found underneath towels. The police pulled it out from underneath to photograph it. Per phone records, Oscar had only used that phone earlier in the day. He had been using the phone (that is now in his pocket) that evening and also to make the calls after the shooting. First, why would he bring two phones in to the bathroom? He only needed one. Why would he leave the phone he wasn’t using on the floor under towels for the police to find? One could strongly argue that was an intentional placement. Why would he have his phone downstairs when there are plenty of people on the scene to help with calls or anything else? And why did that phone leave his property at 8am that morning and the defense team hide it for two weeks? We STILL don’t know who took that phone and why. Much less what exactly it was they were trying to hide or accomplish by taking it. It’s very frustrating that the full story hasn’t been told. But it has strongly been insinuated through Moller’s testimony, the photos at the scene, and Oscar’s cross-examination that there was something funky going on with the phones after the crime. It will be very interesting to see if Nel addresses it in his closing argument.
Nel asks Oscar, who put the phone on a charger? Oscar says he doesn’t know. Nel asks, “If Clarice would say it was on the charger in the kitchen when she spoke to it how would that have happened?” Oscar says he’s not sure. Nel says, “it wasn’t you?” Oscar says he’s not sure. He goes on to say that there was a charger in his kitchen. He’s not sure if he plugged it in or who plugged it in, or if it was plugged in.
Nel is wrapping up his cross-examination with Oscar now.
He tells Oscar that it is not in dispute that he broke down the door, picked Reeva up and carried her downstairs. That is why there is very little improbability at this portion of the story because these things in fact happened.
But up until the shots, the reason why he struggled so much with his version is because that was the version he had to say. It did not happen.
Nel asks him if he understands what he’s saying and Oscar says he understands but does not agree.
Nel wants to challenge him on something. He shows him a photograph.
Nel points out the pool of blood around the left leg of the rack and tells Oscar that the magazine rack never moved from this spot. Nel asks Oscar if he will agree that it doesn’t look like this has been moved (otherwise the blood would have smeared).
Oscar says it looks like it has been picked up and placed there and there is no blood on the rack.
Nel informs him that the magazine rack actually does have blood on it. He wants to challenge him further but needs a 5 minute break.
When they return he points out to Oscar that his own pathologist, Professor Botha, testified that the wounds on Reeva’s back had striations from the magazine rack. Oscar acknowledges this.
Oscar confirms again that the magazine rack was all the way to the right and Reeva was on the floor to the right of the toilet. He believes that the rack could have moved when Reeva fell, so it doesn’t necessarily negate what Professor Botha is saying.
Nel shows the blood on the rack to Oscar and points out that there are also smears on it which means that her hair must have brushed against it (most likely when he was pulling her out of the toilet room.)
Nel also points out that there is a smear on the wall to the right of the rack.
Oscar says it’s a straight mark so that may have been from his sock or his leg when he was trying to turn around with Reeva in the bathroom. Oscar says this is probably when the magazine rack would have moved. Nel says, then there would have been an indication in the blood on the floor.
Nel asks Oscar if he picked up the rack and moved it, and Oscar says no.
Nel says to him again that the blood on the floor does not indicate at all that this rack has been moved.
Oscar then says he doesn’t remember it being there. He has gone from stating in fact “it was not there” to “I don’t remember it being there.” The same thing he has done throughout his whole cross examination.
Nel also points out the clear droplets of blood on the floor from when Reeva was picked up, they have not been disturbed. The magazine rack moving would have disturbed those droplets if it did indeed move. Oscar sees that and says that’s correct.
Nel tells Oscar, that rack never moved. She ended up there on top of the rack with her head on the toilet. Oscar says that’s incorrect.
Nel asks Oscar where the magazine rack was prior to this incident. He answers, toward the middle of the wall. Nel asks if that is where he normally keeps it. Oscar says, it’s not where I kept it, it’s where my housekeeper placed it.
So now it’s the housekeeper’s fault that the magazine rack was in the middle of the wall. Good grief.
Nel sums up this argument about the magazine rack and continues on with his conclusion of this cross-examination.
Nel wants to know from Oscar who we should blame for the fact that he shot her.
Oscar says he doesn’t know, he was scared.
Nel reminds him that yesterday he said that we should blame him for taking her life. Nel now wants to know who should we blame for him having shot her.
Oscar answers that he believes that there was a threat on his life.
So Nel asks, “we should blame you for the fact that you shot her?” Oscar agrees.
Nel asks again, “who should we blame?” Oscar says he’s not sure.
Nel asks, “should we blame Reeva?” Oscar says no.
Oscar says he doesn’t blame anybody, he believed there was a threat.
Nel says, “but we cannot blame you for having shot and killed Reeva?”
Oscar says that he believed there was somebody coming out to attack him.
Nel asks, “who should we blame for the black talon rounds that ripped through her body?”
The Judge asks Nel, isn’t that the same question? Nel says it’s something different and she lets him continue.
Nel asks the question again but Oscar doesn’t understand.
Nel asks, “who fired at her with the black talon ammunition?”
Oscar says he did.
Nel asks why he had this ammunition.
Oscar says it’s ammunition that’s used for his type of firearm.
Nel then puts to him that there were only two people in the house that night. He killed Reeva and is the only one who can give us a version of what happened that night. Oscar agrees.
Nel also puts to him that “his version is not only untruthful, it’s so improbable that it cannot be reasonably, possibly true.” Oscar doesn’t agree.
Nel continues, “the court will, on the objective facts and the circumstantial evidence, make the following findings:
• Reeva ate within 2 hours of being shot and killed.
• Whilst awake, there was an argument in which Mrs. van der Mewre heard Reeva’s voice.
• Johnson, Burger and both Stipps heard Reeva’s blood-curdling screams.
• Oscar shot 4 shots through the door while knowing that she was behind the door.
• Oscar knew that she was talking to him.
• She was locked in the toilet room.
• Oscar armed himself with the sole purpose of shooting and killing her.
Nel then says to him, afterwards you are indeed overcome with what you’ve done, that is true. And Oscar says, that is true.
Nel says to him, but only because you realize that it was your intention to kill her. Oscar says it’s the opposite.
Nel rests. Roux needs a 5 minute adjournment (and a drink!)
Roux has a short list of questions for Oscar.
Roux reads from the record the portion of cross-examination where Oscar testified that he heard the door slam and he thought that someone was either going in to the toilet or somebody had maybe kicked the door because it was near the window and they were fleeing.
Oscar remembers this portion of testimony.
Roux then says it was put to Oscar by Nel that he either heard somebody kick or slam the door, and Oscar’s response to Nel was that he never heard somebody kicking the door.
Oscar clarifies that he was just trying to explain that he never heard the door being kicked, he just heard it slam and thought it could have been the result of somebody either slamming it or kicking it.
Roux goes on to say that Nel confronted him on this and Oscar apologized. He wants to know why he apologized. Oscar says it was put to him in the wrong manor.
Roux then asks Oscar what he means when he says it was an accident. Oscar says it’s the situation as a whole, it’s something that wasn’t meant to be.
Roux wants to know when he was standing in front of the toilet door with his gun, what emotions was he experiencing? Oscar says he was terrified, he feared for his life, scared, thinking about what could happen to him and Reeva. He was extremely fearful and overcome with a sense of terror and vulnerability.
Roux asks if he consciously pulled the trigger or not. Oscar says no, he didn’t think about pulling the trigger. As soon as he heard the noise, before he could think, he pulled the trigger. Roux asks, “but you pulled the trigger?” Oscar says yes.
Nel objects. He states that last question by Roux, “but you pulled the trigger?” was leading. Both the Judge and Roux agree and Roux apologizes.
Roux then shows him a photo of the jeans on his bedroom floor. He asks Oscar what he sees.
Oscar says the jeans are no longer inside out.
I don’t see this as an issue. The police testified earlier on in the case that they did have to move items to investigate, but they noted in the photo albums what was moved and to where. They talked about opening up the duvet because they saw blood spatter on it. They needed to open it to further investigate and did find more blood droplets. Seeing that there was also blood spatter found on the jeans, I’m sure they needed to look at both sides of those jeans as well.
Van Staden testified that photo album # 1 depicts the scene exactly as it was found. The subsequent albums do have photos of items that have been moved, but they made notes as to how the items were moved. The defense has tried very hard to make it look like the police deliberately moved evidence at the scene, often times using Motha’s photos instead of Van Staden’s, but for what specific reason they cannot say. In my opinion, there has been no concrete proof that the police did that. I’m not saying that their work was perfect, but I do think it was a lot better than what the defense would like you to believe.
Roux then asks him about his bail affidavit. He wants to know if at the time he was deposed, did he have access to the statements in the docket. Oscar says it was before Hilton Botha had given his evidence.
Next question, Roux wants to know when they did the scream test with Oscar, was he aware of any equipment being used at the time? Oscar remembers some equipment was used. He’s not sure what tests were done.
I think Oscar failed on this answer. Remember in his cross-examination he was very evasive about whether or not there was a recording of his voice. I think Roux was trying to clear that up now by having Oscar testify that he didn’t know he was being recorded. But Oscar just said he saw equipment so I think this flopped a bit for Roux.
Roux then has the court give an item to Oscar. It’s the Valentine’s Day card that Reeva gave to him. Roux asks him for which Valentine’s Day this was given and Oscar says “for the day when the accident happened.”
He has Oscar read it. The envelope said Ozzy. The card said: “Roses are red, violets are blue, I think today is a good day to tell you that I love you.” It was signed by her with a smiley face and kisses.
Roux has no further questions.
The female assessor seated next to the Judge has a few questions for Oscar:
1. Did Reeva have access to the alarm remote? He answers, she did.
2. Could she activate and deactivate the alarm? He answers that he’s not sure if she knew how to but she would have been able to if she had the remote.
3. Was the light in the toilet working at the time of the incident? Oscar says no.
The Judge asks the lawyers if it’s common cause that the structure in court is an exact replica of the toilet room.
Roux answers that it’s an exact replica of size and layout, and the door is the one from the scene (with a few missing pieces of wood.)
Oscar then interjects and tells the Judge that the frame is not similar to the one at his house.
(According to Twitter reports, Roux was not too pleased at all with Oscar interrupting the Judge here or randomly sharing his opinion on the door when she was clearly speaking to the lawyers)
Nel agrees that it’s a replica of size and layout, and the way the door is fitted.
Oscar is excused and resumes his spot in the dock. They take a short adjournment before the next witness.