True crime and trial opinions from a layman's perspective
State’s Heads of Argument – Media Copy
I am reading the Heads of Arguments and find it strange that this case is not just about the charge of Murder but also about the lesser charges of shooting in the restaurant (Jan 2013 a month before the fatal shooting) and shooting from the sunroof of a car (Sep 2012 fives months before the fatal shooting).
I assume these lesser charges are added here so that the State can link them to a general recklessness and bravado that is in keeping with shooting to death RS in Feb 2013. If these lesser charges were considered separately or not made then presumably the State wouldn’t be able to mention them at all in this main Murder Charge.
I also note that this Heads of Argument document is not a stand-alone document but refers to other court documents (references to page xx line yy – zz of an unspecified document).
An important aspect of those lesser charges that Nel hit on at the beginning of his closing is the timeline of when they occurred. There does appear to be this increased downward spiral of his recklessness all within like a 6 month period prior to Feb 14: Arguing with the police, shooting thru the sunroof after the Vaal, the arguments with Sam Taylor, breaking up with her and the arguments/threats with Quinton VDB/Mark Batchelor, then the gun going off at Tasha’s, asking his friends to take the blame, etc, etc… It is a very clear pattern of somebody who is out of control.
unfortunately, this worked for the defenses’ claim that the defendant had a pattern of ‘anxiety’ over the top because of his disability. It is just insane that he got away with 2nd degree murder regardless of who he ‘thought’ was behind a locked door.
I’m confused as to why it states in the heads of argument the following:
The accused has given the court his interpretation of the WhatsApp messages. It is indeed unfortunate that the deceased is unable to do the same. The court, however, may take into account the content of the two WhatsApp messages referred to previously, and the fact that the accused wanted to spend the night of 13 February with friends and had to be convinced by the deceased to return to Pretoria.
It seems clear to me from the txt msgs that Reeva didn’t want to spend the night and kept asking Oscar to spend time with his friends. She sounded exasperrated with him and she had a speech to give the next morning. Perplexing when you read their final txt msgs.
Yea, I think Nel is wrong on that point. I believe that Oscar wanted her to stay and she wanted to go.
Given as an objective fact “The accused was on his stumps when he fired the shots”. I thought this had been an issue of contention. but It seems not and it seems the State now accept this.
It was originally a point of contention, but the State has since accepted that he was on his stumps for some time now. Mangena confirmed that in his testimony. It’s just us crazy forum people that have perpetuated the possibility of him not being on stumps 🙂
“The accused was … demonstrably one of the worst witnesses we have ever encountered … perhaps best exemplified with his evidence that, although he recalls the detail of his encounter with the Mercedes on the highway, he cannot recall who fetched him from Rhapsody’s”
Yep I found that totally preposterous …
Something else that has long bothered me (among MANY things in this case) is OP’s explanation of the Baba phone call. We all know that Baba testified that OP said “everything is fine”… but then Roux challenged that during trial claiming that OP stated “I am fine”. And then OP takes the stand and of course… he can’t remember. So how can Roux even challenge Baba if OP can’t remember??
OP saying he can’t remember the call with Baba is false, is just wanted to steer as far away from that as possible under cross examination because he knew he would be ripped apart by Nel.
I believe like you that he did in fact give Roux a version of that call in the beginning but lied about remembering it later.
One of the many many lies he told. Not the behaviour of an innocent man if you ask me.
The good old “I can’t remember” is a classic on the stand. It’s been a favorite of criminals forever.
Great catch and analysis..surprised Nel did not argue that.
Excellent point shows lack of candor. Judge did admit that Oscar was a ‘poor’ witness.
It seems that the main focus of the State’s case is showing that OP’s testimony is untrue (ludicrous in places) and inconsistent with most of the evidence and other witness statements. They also quote case law arguing that the State is not required to speculate on exactly what happened – they only need to demonstrate the accused didn’t provide a reasonable account of why they should be found not guilty of the charge – despite them being given ample opportunity to do so … and if it is found that the accused testimony cannot possibly be true then it is reasonable for the court to find the accused guilt of the charge.
This might explain why the State has ignored / not taken up many of the other loose ends of the case (such as Jeans out the window, dogs not barking etc).
So it seems the claims from several armchair commentators that it is incumbent on the State to demonstrate motive and exactly how the murder took place in full detail is incorrect.
This absolutely explains why the States has ignored many items that would be speculative. That was the whole position of my blog post “Has the State’s Case Been Proven”… They do not need to figure out what they fought about that night, and actually they don’t even really need to explain the first set of bangs.
The absolute MOST important thing to do in this case, is to prove that OSCAR’S account of what happened, cannot be possible. That is the smartest and best way to tackle a circumstantial case like this. In the simplest of explanations – if Oscar’s story is not believable or substantiated, then he knew it was Reeva.
I believe that the State has succeeded and the Defense has failed. In this type of case, where we all know who the murderer is, it is a two way street – it’s not just on the Prosecution. I will wait until Roux finishes his closing, and will then work on an interrogation of each Heads of Argument.
“A trial is two narratives competing for your attention.”
― Harlan Coben, The Woods
The content of the alleged row is unknowable but the content of the characters and the dynamics which might have led to shots could definitely have been explored. I feel there was much to add, that was possible to add, but the identity of the first set of bangs could not be supplied unless it is true they were not shots?
I should add given the objective facts upon which the murder charge was based.
I see that the State tests OP’s testimony for what a reasonable person would have done – both for himself AND THE VICTIM (RS):
“To even consider the accused’s defence the court will need to accept that:
1) the deceased decided to relieve herself and did so without saying a word to the accused
2) for no apparent reason she opened the bathroom window
3) she took her cellphone with her to the bathroom
4) she decided not to switch on any of the lights
5) she did not utter a word whilst the accused was screaming, not even when he was in the bathroom
6) the deceased got up from the toilet to close and lock the door
7) the deceased dressed herself before she was shot
8) the deceased did not hide as a result of all the screaming but stood upright facing the danger ” [my numbering]
States Note on the OP – RS RELATIONSHIP
Aug 2012: OP to Samantha Taylor: “Samantha was the one for him and that he wanted her in London”.
27 January 2013: RS to OP “…I am scared of you sometimes and how you snap at me and how you will react to me…”
7 February 2013. “She again complained about how he treated her and again that he had criticised her, this time loudly and in front of others”.
“FACT that THE ACCUSED WANTED TO SPEND THE NIGHT OF 13 FEBRUARY WITH FRIENDS and had to be convinced by the deceased to return to Pretoria”.
“On the accused’s version … spent a quiet evening together on the eve of Valentine’s Day WITHOUT EVEN A SUGGESTION OF INTIMACY”.
14 February 2013 approx. 1.56 am: “argument overheard by Ms van der Merwe” involving a woman’s voice.
14 February 2013 approx. 3.17 am OP shoots to death RS
1) In Court Nel also quoted RS saying in a Whatapp message to OP that she felt she was the only one trying to make the relationship work.
2) OP didn’t get RS a Valentine’s Day Card.
3) RS didn’t give OP the Valentine’s Day Card she had got him – I think this was still in her bag (?)
4) I didn’t realise OP didn’t want to spend Feb 13 with Reeva.
PS the State makes no mention of Valentine Cards but I suppose this is one of those details they didn’t need to mention.
Summary of STATE WITNESSES & SCREAMING … consistent with:
1) There was no screaming before the first set of noises
2) “There was screaming before the shots in the region of 03:17” (second set of sounds)
3) A woman’s “petrified and bloodcurdling screams” were heard before the gunshots (second sounds on Stipp’s evidence). It was a woman screaming intermingled with a man screaming (help help help)
4) There were no screams after the gunshots (second series of sounds)
5) The light in the bathroom was on at the time of the first sounds
6) The screaming started moments after the first sounds
7) Mr Johnson made a call at 03:16 and the shots were fired shortly thereafter
8) Mr Stipp made a call at 03:15
9) The Johnson and Stipp couples heard the shots fired in the region of 03:17 and those were the shots that killed the deceased
a) The State is only saying the second set of noises, gunshots according to the five witnesses, were indeed gunshots.
b) The State makes no suggestion as to what the first set of noises, heard by the Stipps and described by them also as shots, were in fact caused by – but we may infer the state assumes these were not gunshots from the “murder” weapon.
c) The woman’s screams seem to start after the first set of noises. This is intermingled with the screams from a male’s voice.
d) All five witnesses agree the screams stopped after the final set of explosive noises (shots) were heard.
Ps the screams ending plus the telephone calls (timed in relation to the final explosive noises) more or less objectively fixes the timing of the fatal shooting of RS.
Ps I would consider myself to be more of an expert on sound than the Defence experts and would say it was certainly possible for the sounds to travel as far as they did.
I have enjoyed your postings for the last few months, but I would urge you to consider something.
The State has to build a case. It sounds obvious, but it is really important to consider this. The only person who was with Reeva when she was killed, is accused of her Murder.
The Prosecution has no way of independently verifying if OP was on his stumps. They wish to Prosecute, but know that their case will be subject to ruthless examination. This is why they have gone down the route they have – i.e. Go along with the Defence that OP was on his stumps.
Well, because it actually does not matter. Seriously, it does not.
If OP was on his stumps? Well the bullets would have hit the door at roughly the height they did. However, do not rule out that OP was on his artificial legs & crouched into a hideous firing position.
The Prosecution has done a superb job of leaving this option open, even though they have said that in all probability OP was on his Stumps.
They cannot know for a fact. They have just been trying to help the Court understand the position of the person that pulled the Trigger, who incidentally, has done nothing to help a Court understand the truth.
OP shot through a door. The defence say he was scared and have three versions of this as a defence.
It is not likely to be the truth. If it is? Then most people fed up with their partners with access to a gun, are looking at an excuse for killing them ….
The question of whether or not OP had his stumps on was critical.
If it could have been proven that he had his stumps on when he shot RS then his version is a lie because it means he was not asleep, he was awake.
He, on his own testimony, does not sleep with his prosthetics on.
Also, there was no time from when hearing the noise that allows him to have put them on as he gave a version in his bail app that made no mention of them being put on when he got up to move the fans or when he heard the noise.
I think its common cause that he was on his stumps, Mangena testified he was on his stumps.
True, that it makes little difference to the shots, he is only about 30cm shorter with out his prosthetic on , but the difficulty would have been with him saying he was asleep, he doesnt sleep with them on and according to his bail app he didnt have time to put them on as he acted quickly to put himself between the danger and RS.
Barry Roux started off by saying that the State is obliged to account for the first set of bangs if it claims the second set were the shots but I think that Gerrie Nel has already addressed that with the “State is not required to speculate on exactly what happened” quote.
I must admit I was hoping for some sort of timeline and a twist/surprise or two from Nel, but I guess that just comes from watching too much CSI 🙂
Presumably Gerrie Nel will get a chance to respond to Roux’s closing arguments before this phase of the trial is wound up?
I only recently discovered your blog. I think you have done a great job at summerizing the evidence. Look forward to reading your comments on closing arguments. I wonder where Roux, in his timeline, got the idea that the first sounds occurred at 3:12 when Mrs Stipp clearly testified that the first sounds were at about 3:00.
Good point – I also wondered about that.
I’ve just re-watched Mrs Stipp’s testimony and she clearly says she heard the sounds after waking up around about 3am and she said that the screaming started “moments” after that. There was screaming for around 15 minutes, not the 5 minutes Roux would have court believe.
Hi William… Burger/Johnson also testified that the screams started right around 3am.
If first gunshots were around 3am, why did it take OP nearly 20mins to get Reeva out? On his own version,he`s missing at least ten minutes here.
Also, Nel doesnt have to give a version of events,or explain the first set of noises. He is banking on JudgeM not buying the intruder story, which leaves nothing except OP knowingly shooting into the toilet.
Mrs Stipp and Michelle Burger both heard bangs/shots at 3:00am and both heard bangs/shots at 3:17am.
OP only called after the second set of bangs, why did he only phone 20 minutes later for help? Rearranging the scene, phones, holster etc…. or concocting a story to tell?
Actually, Burger did not hear bang/shots at 3am. The only people who did were the Stipps. Both Burger and Johnson testified that the female screaming woke them up around 3am. The shots that killed Reeva occurred sometime in the vicinity of 3:15. The first call was to Stander at 3:19, and they made it to OP’s house in roughly 4 minutes. So OP had about 8 or 9 minutes alone after the shooting. As to when exactly he knocked the door down and pulled her out (before or after the Stander call), I’m not sure.
Burger was woken by screams and testified this …….
Just after her screams, I heard shots, four shots,” she said, describing one clear shot then three clustered together: “bang … bang, bang, bang”
I thought that to mean immediately after the screams but
I am still not sure of the exact timeline of the morning, I would love to be able to read the record and write in point form what each witness heard ,both prosecution and defence.
Hey crack… you can read a summary of day 1 here on the blog to see what Burger testified. It’s not the full record of court, rather a summary, so it’s always best to watch it yourself for accuracy sake. But she definitely didn’t testify that she heard the shots right after the initial screams. She and her husband, Johnson, made the security phone calls after hearing the screams, and before hearing the shots.
Interestingly, crackzn quotes Burger as testifying that she heard “bang…bang, bang, bang”. If there were such a pause between bang one and bang two as seems to be shown here, then surely that sort-of destroys the State’s assertion that the killing was caused by reckless rapid-fire shooting and that Pistorius was generally reckless in using firearms (para 14 State’s heads), as there must have been a moment between bang one and two when the defendant thought about what was going on, rather than acting in a blind panic/blind recklessness
Ear witness account and forensic evidence on wounds in her body show there was a pause between the first and second shot.
Hardly a volley of gun shots fired in fear.
Also, it was proven under cross examination and the state got defence ballistic witnesses to concede the mag rack never moved meaning there was NO 3rd startle as claimed by him that caused him to fire in fear.
My impression of Judge Masipa is she has looked much sharper during the closing arguments than during the general questioning of witnesses etc. I suspect she has been tailoring so that her sharpness levels started off moderately to now go up through the gears as she and her team effectively take over from here. The prosecution and defence have done their job – it is now up to Judge Masipa and her team to look at everything presented and determine the most appropriate judgement. Whatever the judgement she has to justify it knowing that it has to be robust enough to ward off any potential appeal from either side.
I await the Defence’s Head of Argument to comment on the defences closing argument.
It is unchallenged on record that the 1st sounds occurred very close to 3:00. From phone record times the 2nd sounds occurred at about 3:17. The State does not have to provide an explanation for the 3:00 sounds, but I was suprised (and a bit concerned) that they have not argued why it is their case that the 3:17 sounds were in fact the gunshots, which they could very easily have done to rebut Roux’s timeline theory. Both pathologist testified conclusively that Reeva would have expired quickly after the gunshot wound to the head. It is common cause that she died when OP carried her downstairs. If the 1st sounds were the gunshots as the Defence wants us to believe, Reeva could not possibly still have been alive at 3:23 when OP carried here downstairs.
M’Lady and her learned assessors cannot help but notice this twisting of undisputed facts (I think it’s called lying) by the defense. Yet another nail in the coffin methinks …
If we want to think generally about OPs reaction: why did OP waste time, according to his testimony, putting his legs on and moving RS when it was obvious he had to call for medical attention IMMEDIATELY he realised it was Reeva … and what the ‘ell was he doing with all those phones immediately afterwards when he should have been making that emergency call. This alone is ENTIRELY UNREASONABLE.
Personally I feel Nel could have done a much better job, albeit he needed to overcome the mess that was Hilton Botha.
IPhone users will be familiar with the passcode screen and the button in the bottom left hand corner, which inexplicably OP ignored as it allows someone finding anyones locked iPhone to make only an Emergency Call from it…….. Which is surprising as he is also an iPhone user.
Ergo – he could have used Reeva’s iPhone to call the Emergency Services. However despite that being the quickest route to summoning assistance, he chose to abandon the phone & fetch his own iPhones, yet didn’t make his first call to the Emergency Services anyway.
Does he expect a court to believe this?
Apparently… That, and a whole bunch of other nonsense.
OP grabbed her phone to make sure she had not called 911p…but he could not get into her phone. That is why he had to say that he screamed to her to call the police just in case she did call…
Under cross examination OP also said “I wanted to ask Reeva why she was calling the police”
A slip of the tongue or the effects of having to constantly remember a false version. ……………………………..
Okay I am about to read the defence’s head of argument. 🙂 The defence team say the State’s case is premised on circumstantial evidence. My question is – isn’t the Defence teams defence also based on circumstantial evidence? The objective evidence is that OP shot to death RS in his own home.
Can someone clarify what is meant by “common cause” – this phrase I see being used quite often in this case – but its legal meaning is not readily traceable.
Common cause refers to a piece of evidence that will be considered by the Judge as an objective “fact”, not just an assertion, because both parties agree on it, nobody disputes. So for instance, it is common cause that Oscar used the cricket bat on the door. Neither party disputes the use of the bat so the Judge will accept that the bat was used on the door.
I think the state has made its case. Only 2 pple know what really happened, unfortunately RS is deceased, so that leaves OP. As Nel said OP dropped the batton of truth, so no one can make his case any more stronger. It has been proven his version is full of lies and tailored. How can it be accepted? If its rejected then then the only inference is he knew he was firing to kill RS…MURDER. If his version is accepted its still adds up to murder. He made decision to go for his gun, unholster it, remove safety and be ready to shoot, and he did, 4 times, and killed a person. He didnt try to identify that person, neither did he try to locate RS after the window sounds, even though she was the only other person in the house. Forget the witnesses and the forensics and police tampering. On his own version, IF ACCEPTED, he is guilty of murder, maybe not premeditated, but still murder minimum 25yrs. If his version is rejected, shame for him, he faces life in jail.
Ah, yes, dropping the baton. I thought one weakness of the state’s case, stylistically-speaking, was their mixing of metaphors.
Nel started off
1. quoting Rumpole of the Bailey,
2. moved to “mosaic,”
3. went into “relay” (race passing the baton).
Better to choose one and stick with it throughout, as in (and I’m making this up AND I’m not good at it but you’ll get the idea).
1. Some quote about Mosaics
2. A stained glass window is made up of many different pieces and colors of flat glass. Only when they are all put together does the picture emerge
3. He smashed it.
1. A sports quote
2. Olympics = consists of many different sports, only all of them combined = Olympics
3. Relay race dropping the baton.
Or how about something regarding Reeva
1. A quote about the time and care and skill with which a tapestry (Reeva’s life experiences, her parents raising her) is made
2. A beautiful tapestry is made of many threads (Her life, her beauty inside and out, together, made her who she was)
3. Oscar unraveled it.
Mosaic could also be used to honor Reeva.
Its become very complicated and that is what the defence had hoped for I feel.
It is possible the bat was used first.
It is possible he had his legs on.
If the toilet cubicle light was not working why did Reeva NOT take her phone with her into the cubicle?Once the door was shut she would have been in pit ch darkness.
I believe the lights were on for OP to be able to fire the way he did,no one stumbles around in the darkness!!!!Intruder or not!!!!!Impossible to run up and down like that without tripping up.
Defence talks about Police tampering.
What about tampering by OP and his sister etc- after the crime and after the house was given back to OP when Police had finished their inspection of the crime scene?
At the end of the day the small details do not matter.People heard screaming and shots and the crime scene implicated OP.
His behaviour before and after the crime proves what kind of person he is.
Yep, Jill, you’re right. The only tampering done at that scene was by Oscar and his peeps. And his behavior, and some of the behaviors of his family, are pretty appalling.
Oscar claims he is not sure when he switched the bathroom light on. You cannot help but remember which actions were in the dark and which were in the light. The bathroom light was on.
As others have pointed out, it doesn’t really matter if he was on is stumps or not except when it comes to Dr Stipp’s testimony that he saw someone moving in the bathroom. I believe he had his legs on and crouched down when he fired (he actually let slip that he “knelt down” before firing at one stage) If the bathroom light was on he would have been exposed in full view of the neighbours when he fired, so it makes sense that he crouched.
Interesting that Roux was at great pains to emphasize that Dr Stipp saw a man with “a light complexion” moving in the bathroom, steering attention away from the possibility that Malawian housekeeper Frank, who was already up and dressed when the Standers arrived, was involved in any way ….
Hi William. I was just about to look on YouTube for OP’s testimony for the very thing you mention here… I was SURE that OP also let slip that he knelt down to shoot. Just like he let slip that he asked Reeva why she was phoning the Police!!
Hi Marcey – I can’t remember where the “knelt down” bit was but I think it was during cross examination. It really jumped out at me.
Another slip I picked up was that he said “when I ate” and quickly corrected to “when we ate”.
I think that some of the regular contributors to this blog and of course you , Juror13, have probably spent more time mulling over the evidence than Masipa, she probably has numerous other cases on the go.
I hope she is sharp and can make the right call.
Although as far as I see it if you say look, OP lied, and that was proven, and he was not a credible witness then the only other inference is that he knew she behind the door.
Tampering, bungling whatever its not enough, to my mind, to let him off the murder charge.
This is her last case, she retired, and was asked to be a judge in this one case. After this she is done, so I would imagine that all her time is invested in this.
I havnt seen or heard of this anywhere, where did see that?
speaking about appalling, how about the latest from “The Munsters” ———–>
Arnold Pistorius @arnoldpistorius · Aug 7
As LIGHT destroy DARKNESS
TRUTH will destroy the EVIL.
Lol… The Munsters 🙂
or this ?? ——-> The Beeld reported on Saturday that Lois Pistorius, glowered at Nel on Friday and asked in Afrikaans: “Kry jy nie skaam nie? (Aren’t you ashamed?),” Beeld reported.
So the judicial system is “EVIL & DARKNESS” and the Pistorius’s are “TRUTH & LIGHT” … ??? Am I interpreting that correctly ? … and Nel should be ashamed of himself for …. ?? what exactly ? Questioning Oscar ? They seem “cult-ish” in a sense as they truly do not understand the issue here. I often wondered when in their private moments, did they ever doubt Oscar’s story & thought that surely they must ? But I no longer think so … I don’t believe they EVER think about it, rather they TUNNEL ( as opposed to focus ) all of their energies on how to get Oscar out of trouble this time … Nothing more, nothing less … Yes, Reeva was an unfortunate loss/ACCIDENT now let’s get on with Oscar’s life/career … I read an early press article recently where back in early 2013, Uncle Arnold was quoted as saying he just wanted to get Oscar ” … back to the Olympics … he has a natural talent ” … ummmmmm, ok : /
There was something else he supposedly wrote or said to Reeva’s mother like, “One life is already gone, we’re trying to save another one.”
From HoA, State:
In his attempts to prevent the domino effect on the mosaic pieces, the accused changed his version to “I could see the duvet going up, that is all I could make was a silhouette… I presume that it was her legs under it…”
Page 1681 lines 6-12
Either it was pitch black and he could see nothing, or he could see because it was not pitch black.
But this is before the fans are retrieved (OP’s version), and isn’t the balcony light on at this point? Hence not pitch black at this point?
Defence HOA show that the State often collapse two separate events into one to create non-existent discrepancies.
Nel could have proven that the second set of gunshots COULD not be the cricket bat banging down the door by Oscar’s own testimony, He yelled” help help help” BEFORE getting the cricket bat, but the Stipps heard those male ” helps” AFTER the second set of gunshots.So it could not be…as Roux would say.
I just reread the state’s closing arguments. I can’t find anything regarding why they didn’t just leave through the bedroom door and/or why he didn’t look for Reeva outside the bedroom before assuming she was the one who had been shot..
I thought those were really important common sense questions. If they are not in the Closing Argument, why were they not included?
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