True crime and trial opinions from a layman's perspective
Roger Dixon is back and continuing the discussion about the sound testing.
Nel establishes that Dixon did listen to the recording of the bat strikes. He also had the opportunity to listen to the single gunshot that was fired on the first night of recording. Nel wants to know if he noticed a difference in the background sounds. Dixon says he recalls the sound of frogs in the background but didn’t notice a difference between the two recordings.
Dixon also says he was not involved in the recording. His job was to wield the bat. Nel says he has listened to the sounds and he believes that the bat sounds have been amplified. He wants to know what Dixon thinks about that. Dixon says if the sound engineer boosted something on his recording to ensure clearness, he wouldn’t be aware to what degree he boosted it since he was not involved in the recording.
Nel wants to know who worked with the sound engineer. Dixon testifies that the sound engineer had an assistant and from what he could see it was those two people who produced the recordings. Wolmarans was sitting with them while they were working.
Nel wants to know on which dates Dixon was at the scene (Oscar’s house.) The dates are as follows:
• Feb 22, 2013
• Feb 25, 2013
• March 1, 2013
• Sept 27, 2013
• Nov 8, 2013
• March 25, 2014
• April 14, 2014
Nel wants to know if Dixon keeps a case file system for the cases he works on as an expert. Dixon says this is the first case he has worked on since he left SAPS. All of his records are kept on his computer in folders.
Nel asks him, weren’t you also at the scene March 26th? He thought he heard Dixon give evidence that the Stipp’s curtains were drawn on March 25th and 26th. Dixon says it was March 25th and April 14th that the curtains were drawn.
Nel wants to know the purpose of his visit on March 25, 2014. This is when they did the testing of the various states of illumination in the bathroom windows from outside. He was accompanied by Wolmarans and van der Westhuisen. Dixon took the photographs using his own camera.
His visit on April 14, 2014, was to see the darkness of Oscar’s bedroom with the curtains drawn. He was accompanied by Wolmarans. Nel wants to know if they did any tests on this date. Dixon says yes, the tests were switching the lights off and drawing the curtains, and seeing the room in various levels of illumination.
Nel asks, did you do any specific testing like with a lux meter? Dixon says the purpose of the test was to see what was visible with one’s eyes. They were looking for an ambient light measurement, not a point measurement. Nel states what one can see with their eyes is very subjective.
Nel wants to know how many reconstructions they did at the scene with the door. Dixon answers one.
Nel also wants to know if any equipment was used for testing on the other days that he was there. Dixon states that Wolmarans used a laser for ballistics testing. Dixon took measurements of the door and he also used an x-ray fluorescent spectrometer on mark E inside the toilet room to test for the presence of metal on that mark.
Nel wants to know if a report was created for his visit to the scene on April 14th. Dixon says no. They also did not take any photographs or video. Dixon is not aware if Wolmarans created a report or not. Dixon only gave verbal feedback about the test to counsel.
On November 8th, 2013, when a reconstruction of the scene was done at Oscar’s house, Dixon states that the following people were present: two SAPS policemen, Capt Van Aardt, Wolmarans, Ms. Adams, Mr. Pruger (spelling?) and himself. The two policemen installed the door. Wolmarans and Dixon took measurements and used the laser on the door. Wolmarans also used probes on the door. With the assistance of Ms. Adams, they tried to recreate the position for each wound utilizing the probes.
Nel wants to know if Dixon has seen a report about this reconstruction. Dixon says the draft report from Wolmarans does contain some of the information from that day. That draft report also contains details from many other aspects of the investigation. Dixon says that Womarans asked him to review the draft because Dixon’s English is better than his. But Dixon again states that he never saw the final report.
Nel wants to know if photographs were taken at this reconstruction on November 8th. Dixon says yes. But there was no video taken.
Nel asks, after this reconstruction, what were their conclusions about the bullet holes? They are as follows:
• Bullet A hit the hip.
• Bullet B hit the arm.
• Bullet C may have intersected the web of her fingers and hit mark E on the wall.
• Bullet D hit the head.
Nel wants to know where the magazine rack was in their reconstruction. Dixon says he would have to look at the photos to recollect. He says it was in various areas of the toilet room while they were taking measurements.
Nel wants to know if the magazine rack played any role in the head wound. Dixon says, “memory is a fleeting thing” as he pauses a bit. He then goes on to say that the position that one would be seated in when on top of the rack was too high and if leaning forward, it would still be difficult to match up one of the bullet holes. When the person was on the floor leaning against the magazine rack then the person was near the bullet hole, or slightly below.
Nel asks, so you are saying that if she was sitting on the floor then bullet hole D would have hit her in the head? Dixon answers, they believe the bullet hit her as she was in the process of falling down to the floor.
Dixon then acts out how she was falling in this sequence… the bullet hits the hip while her right arm is stretched out toward the door handle.
Then as she is just starting to fall, the next bullet hits her upper arm.
He does not act out the 3rd bullet but yesterday he had mentioned that her left arm was likely in front of her, as part of an involuntary contraction movement, and the bullet went through the webbing of the left hand at that point, missing her torso and hitting the wall at mark E.
Then the 4th bullet hit her head as she is falling to the ground. He says that she would have landed leaning up against the magazine rack.
Nel tells him that if he’s wrong about B, then it makes his scenario difficult. Dixon agrees.
Nel asks, as far as the head wound is concerned, is there anything else that guided you as far as where the body was when it was struck. Dixon points out that the wound is on the top right hand side of the head.
He says it was a horizontal wound straight through. The entry was slightly higher than the exit, so she may have been leaning forward just slightly. He wants to point out again that he’s not a wound ballistician; he’s just interpreting the sequence of events.
Nel asks if there was anything else that guided him in determining how the head was struck. Dixon says yes, the two contusions on the back combined with the contusion on the low buttock showed him that the deceased was falling downward and backwards. The magazine rack would be against the wall and she struck the edge of the rack that was furthest away from the toilet. He believes this matches the lateral contusion on her buttock.
Nel wants to know if Dixon is actually saying that even after Saayman dissected that wound, and put in his report that the wound was caused by the shattering of her hip and pelvis by the bullet fragments, that Saayman is wrong?
Dixon says that he did not see anything in Saayman’s report that said the external appearance of the contusion was directly related to the internal hematoma. Dixon says he is not saying that Saayman is wrong.
Nel is getting agitated because Dixon keeps giving very lengthy answers that are going off course. He wants him to focus on the head wound and what helped him determine the position of the body when the head was struck.
Dixon says the lack of visible wood splinters in the head indicates she was further away from the door. Also, another factor was the statement from Oscar that Reeva’s head was leaning on the toilet bowl when he found her plus the pooling of blood on the right hand side of the toilet.
They next look at the lid of the toilet. Nel wants to know if this photo means anything to him.
Dixon says this indicates that the head was in reasonable proximity to the toilet when it was wounded.
Nel wants to know why he didn’t take in to account this toilet lid when determining the location of her head when it was struck. Nel points out that it is hair imbedded in tissue that is seen on that photo.
Dixon again says that yes, her head was in reasonable proximity to the toilet when it was hit.
Nel asks Dixon if he will agree that the head wound would have been incapacitating. Dixon says that from what he’s heard and read that yes, she would not have been able to make voluntary movements. Dixon says it could be possible, based on how the body lands, to have involuntary movement or spasms. For instance, the body could involuntarily fall over depending on its resting place.
Now Dixon is getting agitated by all of the bullet wound sequence questions from Nel. Dixon says “my Lady, it would be very nice if I was a ballistics expert.” I’m sure my Lady agrees. It would indeed be nice to have a ballistics expert discussing these matters.
Nel then goes back to a comment that Dixon made earlier where he said that when somebody shoots a gun, the muzzle of the gun jolts upward. So if that person immediately shot another bullet, you would expect to see it hit a little bit higher than the first. That is how Dixon could account for bullet hole B being higher than A. Dixon also went on to say earlier that the person would have to refocus or correct their aim in order to get it back to the position of the first shot.
Dixon now back-pedals here, because obviously looking at the door it sure does look like for C and D he aimed pretty well. He tries to explain that it’s not a conscious “shoot, lift, reposition, then shoot again” type of thing. The body instinctively gets used to the pattern and can do it without a lot of thought.
Nel goes back to the magazine rack and how Reeva fell. He points out that Dixon stated that she fell on the magazine rack at the furthest point to the right.
She then somehow got the two contusions on her back from that same rack. And then somehow she must have fallen forward towards the toilet bowl. Dixon agrees; this is his version.
Nel then says to him, Oscar stated that the magazine rack was definitely not there when he found Reeva in the toilet room. What does he think about that?
Dixon says that his reconstruction was based on the evidence that he can see and measure, and that has been recorded by other people. So Nel asks, was the accused wrong? Dixon won’t answer that and instead says, this is his interpretation of events.
Nel then asks, “can the accused be right if you are right?” Nel also says, “you are his witness.” Dixon again won’t give a direct answer on this. Instead he wants to demonstrate his answer via photo.
Dixon points out that in the blood stain on the floor, there is a rectangular mark which indicates where the foot of the magazine rack was located. Based on the blood pooling around the leg, it is clear that this magazine was not slid or moved in this area. It was there when the deceased fell on it.
Before they move on, Dixon again points out how Reeva would have been hit in the head as she was falling down. She hit the right side of the rack and slid down to the floor, and then slumped over on the toilet. Nel tells him based on the tissue and hair on the toilet lid, this is highly improbable. Her head would obviously have to be closer for that tissue and hair to hit where it did. Dixon says his opinion does not change.
Nel then clears up a few dates with Dixon. On March 25, 2014, Dixon agrees he went to the scene. But he does not agree that he was there on February 21st or March 18th.
They next look at a photo that depicts what the accused would have looked like from outside at night without his prosthetic legs.
Dixon says that with his understanding of Oscar’s height on his stumps, he would probably be about 20cm higher than the person in the picture. Nel points out then that this is not an accurate reflection of how Oscar would have appeared. He wants to know that why Dixon, as an expert, would give the court something that is not accurate. As usual, Dixon does not answer the question. Instead he starts rambling on about measurements. Nel asks again, why would you mislead the court with this photograph?
Dixon answers that they were testing lighting and they put a person in for scale purposes. He says he never stated that it was an exact height. Dixon says he is not trying to mislead the court. Nel asks why he didn’t just have the person lean on something to give an accurate representation of height. He is an expert. The court would expect his evidence to be accurate. Dixon says it is something that he omitted; he overlooked it at the time.
Nel then says, we are dealing with an expert, somebody who used to be a policeman and knows what he’s doing. “I want to know why you did it?”
Dixon repeats, it was for demonstration purposes with relative heights.
Nel states that 20cm is a significant variance and he wants to know why he didn’t mention it until now. Dixon says he didn’t have the trigger to mention it before. It’s coming up now, so now he’s mentioning it.
First he was busted on the redo of the gunfire tests yesterday and now today he’s busted on using inaccurate heights in their photographs. I believe Nel is trying to point out that this is not sloppy work, it’s shady work.
Nel says to him, you knew that Mr. Stipp testified that he saw somebody walking in front of that window. Are you trying to demonstrate to the court what he would have seen? Dixon says that they did want to see what Mr. Stipp would have seen.
Nel says back to him, if you really wanted to see what Mr. Stipp saw, you would have used the correct height. Dixon says a scale is a range. This model gave a scale to reference.
Nel asks how far away they were standing when they took the photograph. Dixon answers that he was standing in the road outside of the Stipp’s house at an angle so he could see around the new home. Nel reminds him again that he is an expert giving details and putting things on record. He wants to know exactly how far away he was. Dixon does not know the distance.
Nel then points out that the Stipps did not observe that window from street level. He wants to know, doesn’t that make a difference? Dixon says it would make a difference. He was standing at ground level and looking up, so the person in the window would actually look higher up than if he was looking downward or horizontally from the Stipp’s view. That person would have looked shorter from their view. Nel tells him that makes no sense at all. I agree with Nel; that does not make sense.
Nel asks Dixon what time of night they took these photos. Dixon says around 9pm. Nel wants to know if it was strange to Dixon that the Stipps had their curtains closed at that time of night. Dixon says what people do with their curtains is their own preference. He goes on to stay that at night time for privacy, it is likely that they would draw their curtains.
Nel asks, who was the model in the photographs? Dixon says it was Mr. van der Westhuisen. Wolmarans was there with Dixon observing from outside. They communicated via cell phones that night to give direction to van der Westhuisen who was inside the house.
On April 14, 2014, when Dixon returned to Oscar’s house, he was there to conduct lighting tests in the bedroom. Nel wants to know which items were still in the bedroom at the time of their testing. Dixon says the house has remained relatively unchanged. There was the bed, side tables, fans, chest with audio equipment on it, TV, bookshelf, etc.
Nel wants Dixon to describe to the court how they conducted their test.
Dixon says this test was only observation. It did not totally replicate the night of February 14, 2013, when there was no moon and there was less development in the complex.
On April 14, 2014, when they conducted this test, it was the night before the full moon and there was a lot of lighting from the surrounding homes.
Dixon looked at the construction of the curtain to confirm that it was a black-out style curtain which it was. When the curtains were open, there was quite a lot of light in the room. When they were pulled closed, it went extremely dark except for the far end of the passage where there was some light coming in from the bathroom windows. Nel stops him there.
Nel asks, with the curtains open was there quite a lot of light? Dixon says yes. Nel wants him to describe to the court what he can see.
Since this is an “observation” test, he needs to describe to the court what exactly he is seeing.
Dixon says he can see the position of everything in the room with the curtains open. He was standing in between the foot of the bed and the chest with the audio equipment on it. From there he could make out the outlines of the bed, he could see the bookshelf and he could see the end of the passage.
Nel asks, what was the source of that light outside? Dixon says from the moon and from the neighboring homes, however he can’t say exactly which homes had their lights on. Nel asks, why? He wants to know why he didn’t note these details and why would he come to court without a report. Should the court just take Dixon’s word for it? Dixon says he had been there previously when there was no moon and when the curtains were closed, it was pitch black. He was asked to go back to do another lighting test to confirm and make sure that the pitch black state was true. So this was the second time they observed the lighting conditions. He was not there to observe outside, he was there to observe the lighting inside the room with the curtains closed.
Nel says, that’s interesting. Surely you must be aware that the State’s case is that the curtains were open. Nel wants to know why he wouldn’t test that condition too. Dixon says “he’s most probably not like the rest of the world.” He doesn’t own a TV or a radio, nor does he buy newspapers. He hasn’t been following the case. He only has his testimony to present. He says he does not know all the details of the State’s case and he was unaware of the State’s position on this.
Dixon says the only other lights that could be seen in the room were tiny blue lights on the light switches. There were also small lights on the front of the audio equipment, and a blue light on the on/off switch of the CD player. The TV has a small red light on the lower frame.
Nel asks about the balcony light. Dixon says it was off. Nel tells Dixon that the balcony light was on the night of February 14, 2013, and he wants to know why he wouldn’t switch it on to do his testing if he’s trying to recreate the scene. Dixon tells the court that he was unaware that the balcony light was on, he did not have that information. He goes on to say that with the ambient light from outside, you could see a thin bit of light at the crack of the curtain and at the bottom of the curtain.
Nel wants to know more about the lighting coming through the cracks of the curtain. Dixon explains that the balcony door has a large wood frame. When the two doors come together to close, the middle section is a solid piece of wood. That would be just behind the crack of the curtain. So any light coming through the crack of the curtain is not direct, it’s a light that is reflected from the side.
Nel says to him, that light would have reflected even more if the balcony light was on. Dixon says that’s a possibility. Nel confirms, nobody told you that the balcony light was on that night? Dixon says no, they did not.
Nel confirms that Wolmarans was there with Dixon that night, and he also confirms that Wolmarans did not say anything about the balcony light either.
Dixon confirms that with the lights off and the curtains drawn, he could see the end of the passage leading to the bathroom. Nel wants to know if they had Wolmarans walk down the passage to see if he was visible. Dixon says that Wolmarans first laid down on the bed and with Dixon standing near the curtains, he could not see him at all. Wolmarans then got up and walked down the passage and Dixon could not see him until he got to the end of the passage.
Nel wants to ask him one more time, did you compile a report on this evening? Dixon says no, but he did compile one when they went on the previous visit. This night in April was just for confirmation.
Nel then focuses on the supposed “kick” mark on the door. He wants to know where the cut out portion of the prosthesis is currently located. Dixon says it’s in his possession. Nel wants to know if he has it here. Dixon says he does not. Nel wants to know why he would come to court to testify about something and not bring the evidence. Dixon doesn’t answer and simply says he can “fetch it.”
Nel asks him again, why would you not have it here? Dixon says he did not think to bring it. He then says that the cut out portion was taken AFTER the prosthesis was handed back to Oscar. It was cut out then and was always in the Defense’s possession. He thought the leg was the exhibit. Nel stops him and says, “it was cut out when?” He answers again that it’s his understanding that it was cut out after Oscar received the legs back, it was examined and photos were taken by van der Westhuisen. The piece was then given to Dixon.
Nel tells him that he’s wrong and he’ll have to ask Mr. van der Westhuisen, but the piece was cut out before the prosthesis was handed to the police. Dixon says he has no idea of the movement of the prosthesis at that stage. He became involved with the case on February 22, 2013.
Dixon also received a splinter of wood with varnish on it from the door from Mr. Wolmarans. He received the piece of the prosthesis from Mr. van der Westhuisen.
They break for tea.
Upon returning, Nel is asking Dixon if he is relying on memory to testify about the (kick) mark on the door. Dixon says yes. Nel asks him why he would rely on his memory, and why doesn’t he have a report? Dixon says when he gives evidence in court, he tends not to read out from written reports. He has been over the evidence many times and believes it’s fixed in his mind. Nel says, but the court will only accept the opinion of an expert if he can take them through the processes he followed to reach his conclusion. Dixon says, if it’s requested, he can type up the process.
Nel says, let’s start with the date that you received the piece of the prosthesis. Dixon says that information should be in one of the reports that was handed to Mr. Nel. Nel has Dixon look through his report and Dixon then says that the piece was given to him by Mr. van der Westhuisen at the scene at Silverwoods on either February 25, or March 1, 2013.
Nel asks him if he was able to find the date in his report. Dixon says no. He was just looking at the dates that he had been at the scene and figured it was one of those dates. So it obviously was not in his report.
Nel then asks if there’s any indication in his report on which date he received the splinter of wood to test the varnish. Dixon says no, but it was given to him in March of this year by Wolmarans, in a sealed bag, when they were at the shooting range. Again, the date was not in his report.
I do not see how the court is going to accept the grand majority of Dixon’s evidence. He has been proven to be a very unreliable and unqualified expert.
Nel wants to know, since Dixon had been part of the police force for several years, didn’t he understand the importance of chain of custody, in particular where the piece of prosthesis was concerned? Dixon says he has written that information down. Nel asks, where? Dixon says on his computer.
Nel moves on, and now asks Dixon if he will agree that the piece of the prosthesis that was cut out is smaller than the mark that is seen on the door.
Dixon says it is slightly smaller because that is the portion that had the maximum varnish on it. There should still be some on that surrounding area of the sole of the prosthesis. He also says that white fibers from the sock have been ripped out and are stuck to the prosthesis.
They then look at the photograph that Dixon took in court of the fibers on the door.
Nel says the fibers are pointing downwards. He wants to know if there’s any significance to that. Dixon says the fibers are flexible, they could move. There’s no significance.
Nel wants to know if he would have expected a larger area of varnish to transfer to the bottom of the prosthesis, considering the size of the mark on the door. Wouldn’t the amount of varnish removed from the door be equivalent to the amount of varnish that would then be on the foot. Dixon says it’s relative to the force that was used and also points out that the bottom of the foot is not totally flat. He also mentions that Oscar was wearing a sock.
Nel then asks, wouldn’t you expect that there would be varnish on the sock? Dixon says yes, one could expect that. But Dixon never tested the sock.
Nel then hands Oscar’s prosthesis to Dixon and asks him if that is the area where the piece has been cut out.
Dixon says it appears so. Nel wants to know why he answered that way, “it appears so.” And it is discovered that this is the first time that Dixon is seeing the leg in person. He previously had only seen it in photos. Nel tells him that he’s welcome to take off the sock. But before he does that, he wants to document for the court that a portion of the sock is missing where the piece of prosthesis was cut out, and there is a hole in the heel as well.
Dixon says he doesn’t know if this is the original sock. Nel says it is not, that is how they received the leg. But he will give Dixon the original sock to see if he so wishes.
Nel also asks him before he removes the sock, if there are any particles of varnish on the sock. Dixon says he wouldn’t know if there were any there, they would be quite small. He then takes the sock off and says the appearance of the bottom of the foot is consistent with the photographs he has seen. Dixon then points out where the portion was cut out.
Nel wants Dixon to tell the court what Mr. van der Westhuisen told him (Dixon) when he handed him the piece that was cut out. Dixon says that van der Westhuisen said he saw a mark on the door and a mark on the foot and he thought it was significant. So he gave it to Dixon because it was part of his responsibility to look at the marks on the door.
Nel want to know why he was under the impression that the piece he received was cut out after the prosthesis was returned from the police. Dixon doesn’t have a recollection of the exact wording that was used, but he remembers that when the piece was given to him, he was told it was a piece of the prosthesis and that it was cut after the prosthesis had been given back.
Nel wants to know if it’s significant to him when the piece was removed. Dixon says it was after the event, therefore it can be connected to the event. Also, there was a mark on the door. He didn’t receive the piece of wood with varnish until much later when it became apparent that it might be necessary. He also states that they gave him the piece of prosthesis when they did because he was at the scene with them and they viewed him as the trace evidence person.
Nel says to him that he didn’t answer the question. He wants to know is it significant to him when the piece was removed? Dixon says no, it’s not. Chain of custody for Dixon started when he received it and it’s still in his possession.
Nel then asks if he did the analysis of the varnish himself. Dixon says he prepared the samples. He scraped the pieces of varnish off of the wood, and cut only the relevant piece of the prosthesis needed and put them in viles. He did the necessary processing and put them in a gas chromatograph at the University. A company named Leco has their instrument there and the gentlemen who represents Leco assisted Dixon. Dixon says it’s the same equipment that’s used at the forensic science laboratory in Silverton.
Nel wants to know if he has a report. Dixon says he has a report of the analysis but he didn’t have it with him in court. He thinks he gave a copy to the Defense but he’s not sure.
Nel asks him if he took any samples of any other doors in the house. Dixon says no. He wasn’t aware that the leg could have kicked other doors in the house. He was looking at how many pieces of evidence could link the sole of the prosthesis with the toilet door.
He says he looked at the fibers on the sole of the prosthesis, of which some are still on there. There were also fibers on the door which were photographed by the police on February 14, 2013, that show the fibers there. That is why he was so sure the cleaning cloth (that was discussed yesterday) was not what caused those fibers on the door in court. He also looked at the physical shape of the abrasion and the striation that was in it. He believes that striation can also be seen on the sole of the prosthesis.
He goes on to say that he did not do an extensive identification of every single chemical component in the varnish. He analyzed the pure varnish sample with the contaminated varnish on the sole and it was a match.
Nel asks, but you are aware that there are other doors in the house with varnish. Did you exclude that the transfer happened from other wooden frames in the house? Dixon says again, he was not aware that other doors had been kicked so no, he didn’t check elsewhere in the house.
Nel says to Dixon that Vermeulen is of the opinion that Oscar could have stumbled on that piece of wood and caused the mark at that time. He wants to know what he thinks about that. Dixon says he doesn’t think that could happen. He likely would not have had enough force to create the mark simply by stumbling. Nel wants to know if it’s at least possible. Dixon says, not from the distribution of varnish that was seen. He’s not saying it’s impossible. He believes the plank would have to be held in place and would have to be kicked or stepped on pretty hard to cause that mark.
Nel moves on to the bat strikes. He asks Dixon if he has looked at the angle of how it hit the door. Dixon says yes he has. He did his testing from what he considers an approximate angle. He would never be able to ascertain an exact angle because of the grain of wood and shape of bat.
Nel wants to know if he included all of the photographs taken on March 25, 2014, in his album. Dixon says he didn’t prepare an album. He prepared a report. He tends to take a lot of photographs to ensure he has what he needs. Nel asks him if he has all of the photographs still available. Dixon says they are stored on his computer. Nel asks him if he has any objection to the State looking at all of the photos taken that night. Dixon says he has no objection.
Nel wants to know who was involved with the wood splinter test where they placed the white board behind the door. Dixon says himself, Wolmarans, van der Westhuisen and the people who own the shooting range.
Dixon took the photographs and assisted with setting up the door in the same position as the crime scene. He used his own camera. Nel wants to know if he has all the photographs in sequence that he took on that day. Dixon says he does. Nel wants to know if he would object to the State looking at all of those photographs as well. Dixon does not object.
Nel looks at a photograph and says it looks like a hole that’s been filled up with something. They don’t show the photo on screen, but I believe this is the photo he is referring to or at least similar.
Dixon says this is the tunnel that the hole made going diagonally through the door. Dixon was standing face on to the door to take the photo so the inside of the path can be seen. Nel believes what causes that effect is that the bullet was at an angle. Dixon agrees that it was at an angle.
Nel asks him if he measured the angle at which the bullets had been fired. Dixon says he did assist with setting up the door and they determined the firing angle by using Mangena’s ballistics report and the measurements taken at the scene.
Nel also wants to know what distance they shot from. He believes it was approximately 2.1 meters. It corresponded with the distances that Mangena testified about. Nel asks again about the angle of the bullets. He wants to know if they used probes or angled meters to make sure they had the correct angle. And Dixon says no, they did not do that. That was not the purpose of their test.
Nel points out that Meranti wood has a grain that runs from top to bottom. He wants to know if the angle at which the bullet hits would make a difference in the splintering effect. Dixon says yes it would. Nel asks, why then did you not measure the angles? Dixon says that they did replicate the distance, angle and height in order to shoot bullets through the door to record the effects of the bullet passing through, and collecting the wood splinters on the boards. If the measurements were made correctly, their angles should have been correct. But they did not measure them after the fact.
Nel wants to know if he was the only one photographing that night. Dixon says somebody could have been behind him taking photos but as far as he’s aware, nobody else. Nel tells him that is a strange answer. Dixon says there were other people there in the background and he can’t say for sure what they were doing, but he doubts that anybody was taking photos. Nel wants to know out of the people who were there specifically for the test, did any of them take photos. Dixon says not that he can remember.
Nel wants to know who he gave the photographs to. Dixon says to Mr. Wolmarans, and he has copies as well. Some of the photos were used in his report.
Nel then states that when Mangena did his tests, he used a protractor and an angle finder on the hole. Nel wants to know if they did that as well. Dixon again says no, this was not a ballistics test to determine trajectory. It was a test to study effects.
Nel wants to know during this test, how many witness boards they used. Dixon remembers four. Nel asks if he took photographs of all four boards. Dixon says yes. The one that was included in his album is the one that was closest to the door. Nel wants to know if he has photographs of the other boards. Dixon says he can do better than that… the ballistics expert who will testify will bring them with him, and as far as the photographs, they should have been given to counsel (meaning the Defense should have given them to the State last night.)
Nel asks him how he knows that the witness boards will be used when the expert gives evidence. Dixon says because it’s in question now. Nel says no, I want to know who told him that between yesterday and today. Dixon says nobody.
Nel asks, who told you that the photographs were handed over? Dixon says nobody, it was requested in court yesterday.
Roux stands up and says that they were requested to make the other photos available of the board and he was involved in that process.
Nel stands up and says that they asked THIS witness (Dixon) to personally make them available but instead they got them from the Defense. So Nel wants to know how Dixon knows that they got the photos from the Defense. Remember, the Defense is not supposed to be communicating with their witnesses during cross-examination! That’s a big no-no. The Judge understands what Nel is saying and allows him to continue.
Nel asks Dixon, “how do you know that the Defense made photographs available to us?” Dixon says that he’s employed by the Defense and they have all of those items. He was unaware of the fact that he personally had to hand them over. He was of the opinion that if a request was made in court for any items, that counsel would handle that. So he’s essentially trying to make it sound like he didn’t understand that HE needed to provide them and that he didn’t KNOW that Defense handed them over, he just assumed they did.
Nel tells him no, you can’t get away with that. Nel says, you put it as a fact not as an inference. Dixon says he sat in the court and loaded the files from his computer on to a memory stick and gave it to his counsel for them to make the copies required. He did not have enough memory sticks to make copies, so he handed it to them to take care of it.
Nel tells him that he’s even more worried now because Dixon first tried to pawn it off as an inference, and now he’s telling them that he sat in court and handed over a memory stick. He could have just simply stated that when Nel first asked the question but instead, he just came off as trying to hide something.
Dixon is all flustered now and apologizing to the Judge, not because he did anything wrong but because he is (seemingly) trying to act like he didn’t know he had to give it directly to the State.
Nel now pushes him about the boards. He wants to know how Dixon knows that the expert witness (Wolmarans) will bring them in to court. Dixon takes a long sigh and says that since they had the tests done, the boards have been packaged and have been in court on a number of occasions with Wolmarans as he did not know when he was going to testify. It was his assumption based on that behavior that he (Wolmarans) would have them with him when he did testify. Dixon says he was not explicitly told that by anybody.
Roux is up for reexamination.
Roux takes a few minutes to locate a photo. When they return, they hand the photo to Dixon. It is not shown on screen but it is described as a photo taken at the post-mortem which shows the bruises on Reeva’s back, and lividity has set in.
Roux wants to know where the bruise was that Dixon had previously seen on her back (the bruise that supposedly wasn’t identified by Saayman or anybody else.) Dixon says the bruise was in a line with the other two contusions, a few cm above the contusions. Roux asks if it was in the area of the lividity that is now seen. Dixon answers yes. He adds that the area all around the contusions had gone red as well.
Roux now points him to the ballistics album and shows him a photo.
Roux asks him if he’s seen this photo and Dixon has not. Roux wants to know what this replicates to him. Dixon says this looks like somebody fired through a target causing secondary missiles to hit the paper. Roux says unfortunately this was not presented by the State in their case. Roux says there are a number of photos of this test done by the State but Dixon did not have access to them. Dixon agrees, he did not.
Roux asks him if he was ever given information about these photos outside of court by Mangena or anybody else. Dixon says, no.
Roux wants to know the surname of the range master. Dixon believes it was Roux.
Roux asks, after hitting the door with the cricket bat at the range, did the range master speak to you? Dixon says the recording equipment was being set-up. He hit the bottom portion of the door four times quickly just so they could set up the microphones for the right level of recording. As soon as he did that, the range master came out and asked if they had started shooting because they were supposed to wait for the go ahead telling them it was all clear. The range master thought that when he hit the door, they had started shooting.
Roux wants to revisit the photo that shows van der Westhuisen kneeling in front of the window.
Roux wants to know if they took any measurements to see if they could compare what is seen in this photo to Oscar. Dixon says he measured how high the head was from neck up. The head of an average male is approximately 35cm. He also measured the height of the windows. He did have the measurements of Oscar, and Oscar is about 20cm taller on his stumps than the man in the window.
Dixon goes on to say that he was informed that when Oscar is on his stumps, his lower legs have some length to them but one is longer than the other. He was also aware of the problem with the callus. So he couldn’t pinpoint an exact position.
Roux says what’s important to remember is that Mr. Stipp saw the figure in the right side window, and he could only see the top portion of that window (because of trees.)
Roux wants to know from Dixon, what would be the position of the person even if you added the 20cm? Dixon thinks the person would be about half way up the illuminated portion of the window, or slightly lower.
But keep in mind, not only did they neglect to use the correct height for Oscar, they also did not use the proper vantage point from which Dr. Stipp viewed the figure in the window. So their tests are not reliable.
Roux has no further questions for reexamination. Dixon is excused.
Roux says that the next witness’s evidence in chief will take longer than the available court time today. He has discussed this with Nel and they are in agreement that it would be best not to start the testimony today. Roux states that in order to make up the time, they are willing to start early upon return to court in May.
The Judge grants this early adjournment but asks that everybody be prepared to work extra hours when they return.
Court will resume on Monday, May 5, at 9:30am.