Oscar Trial – Day 7, March 11 – Med Examiner SAAYMAN, FRESCO

Dr. Saayman, the Medical Examiner, is back on the stand.

The Judge starts the day by announcing that live tweets are now allowed. They are still going to black out the video and audio testimony, but journalists inside the court can live tweet.

Roux is setting up a defense that Oscar shot Reeva in quick succession rendering her unable to scream out before the head shot left her incapacitated. This would explain why according to Oscar’s version of the story, Reeva never made any noise at all that night.

However Saayman does not think this is possible. The following are points from his testimony that have been compiled from various reporters in the courtroom:

In the immediate seconds after being shot, mental incapacitation would be minimal, that comes later. The shot to the brain however would cause immediate incapacitation.

Screaming is still possible even after cognitive dysfunction, it would be normal.
By cognitive dysfunction, I refer to higher mental capacity. Screaming is not higher mental capacity.

If someone knows their life is in danger, the stress response, or fight or flight, starts to kick in. In a scenario like this, before somebody is about to sustain a gunshot wound, adrenaline and other kinds of hormones would kick in.

Saayman: “I think it would be abnormal if one did not scream after sustaining an injury of this nature.”

Another item that was hotly discussed prior to trial is whether or not Reeva had urine in her bladder when examined. The defense theory is that if the bladder is empty, she was just using the bathroom to relieve herself that night.

There was a small amount of urine found in her bladder.
It was murky, which is a result of cells becoming loose from the bladder.

Even if Reeva had urinated an hour before her death, her bladder could still have been empty. Many factors contribute to this including how well hydrated the person was.

As for stomach contents, her last meal consisted of vegetables and a small amount of white substance that looked like cheese.

Most meals will be digested in four hours. (1-3 hours for small/average meal, 3-5 for medium meal, 5-8 for large meal, according to medical journals.)

Based on what was found in her stomach and quantity, doctor estimates that she ate approximately 2 hours prior to death. Her death was estimated around 3:15am-3:20am. Therefore, she would have likely eaten after midnight. Oscar claims in his statement that they went to sleep at 10pm.

The defense argument from Roux is that this is an imperfect science. There is no definitive way to say for sure. Dr. Saayman states that although he is not an expert in the digestion field, he has done 10-15,000 autopsies and has read numerous medical journals on this subject. Clearly he has the experience to accurately approximate these details.

The doctor’s testimony today appeared to be strong for the Prosecution. They were able to establish that screaming from Reeva was possible during the shots, Reeva may have urinated up to one hour before death (not immediately before death), and that she ate 2 hours before death (meaning she may not have gone to bed at 10pm as Oscar states).

Dr. Saayman is excused.

The next witness is Darren Fresco.
Darren is the friend who was with Oscar when his gun accidentally went off in Tashas Restaurant and when Oscar allegedly shot his gun out of the car sunroof.

The Judge addresses Darren and warns him that he only gets immunity if he does not lie to the court. Darren does not face any serious charges, just a charge of not reporting the incidents with the firearms. But if he honestly testifies today, he can avoid any trouble.

Darren and Oscar were friends and have known each other for seven years. He knows Samantha Taylor, Oscar’s ex-girlfriend, through Oscar.

Nel inquires about the incident that happened after the Vaal River trip when he, Oscar and Samantha were in the car together. Darren states he was pulled over for speeding by metro police. He was asked to step out of the vehicle. While Darren was talking to police, Oscar decides to exit the vehicle to inquire about what is taking so long. Samantha is in the back seat.

Meanwhile, another metro police officer drives up, looks into the car and picks up Oscar’s gun which was on the seat. Oscar then has a verbal altercation with the officer. Oscar tells the officer that you can’t touch another man’s gun. The original officer attempts to diffuse the situation.

The officer had cleared the chamber of the gun and the bullets fell out in to the car.

Oscar is still arguing with the officer and tells the officer that his fingerprints are now on the gun and he will be liable for whatever happens with it.

The officers ask for Oscar’s drivers license. Darrin goes around to the other side of the car, scratches around in the back seat, finds the bullet and gives it back to Oscar.
Darren assumes that Oscar puts the bullet back in the gun, although he does not see him do it.

More officers now arrive on the scene. They had been chasing Darren since the toll plaza. Darren is issued with a speeding ticket and they leave. I have to wonder, how did they not get in trouble, or even arrested, for their behavior? I somehow get the feeling that we are not hearing the entire story on this. It will be interesting to see if the officers who wrote the ticket will testify about the incident.

Darren states that Oscar was furious that the officer had touched his gun.

They proceed to a house per Oscar’s request so they can handle some matter with a firearm, something about paperwork or license. He’s not sure exactly what Oscar needed to do there nor did he know the people who owned the house. After they are done there, something happens on the next part of the drive.

Without warning, Oscar fires his gun thru the sunroof, just a whisker from Darren’s left ear. (Darren is driving, the steering wheel is on the right side of the car.) Instinctively he pulls his body to the right and ducks down. It happened very rapidly and without warning.

Darren apologizes in advance to the Judge for his language and states that he yelled at Oscar “are you fucking mad?”

Darren states it felt like his ear was bleeding. He had a constant ringing in his ear. Oscar just laughed about what had happened. Afterwards they just kept driving but they didn’t discuss it. This seems highly odd to me. How could they not discuss that?

Darren confirms the location that this happened on an aerial photo. And then on to the next gun incident.

Darren states that he, Oscar, Kevin Lerena and Martin Rooney all go out to lunch at Tashas Restaurant on a Friday afternoon in January 2013. He is shown a photo and establishes where everybody was seated at the table. Oscar and Martin are on one side of the booth and Kevin and Darren are on the other side. Oscar is sitting diagonal from Darren.

Oscar asks Darren to pass him his firearm. It is a Glock 27, 40 caliber. Darren doesn’t know why he asked to see it. Darren takes the gun out from its carrying position, leans forward to get closer to Oscar and then hands him the gun under the table. Knowing that Oscar was competent with guns, he simply says “it’s one up”, meaning that there is one bullet in the chamber.

Darren had been to the shooting range with Oscar and knew that he had a “deep love” for guns (quote from Darren). So he reiterates that he did not question his competency.

At that point, he saw a shoulder movement from Oscar that he thought was taking the bullet out of the chamber. He could not see what Oscar was doing under the table, but that’s what he assumed he was doing at the time.

Instantly, the gun goes off and the deepest silence ensues after this very loud sound. No one knew where the bullet went. They were all frightened out of their minds. They decide to just carry on like nothing has happened, hoping that people will think it’s something else like a gas explosion. My own interjection here, these guys sound like a bunch of totally immature and reckless idiots!

Oscar then passes the weapon back to Darren and instantly asks Darren to take the rap for it since he has too much media attention around him. Darren says he will, being a friend.

The owner’s wife storms up and asks what happened. Darren tells her he made a mistake and apologizes. Says his gun fell out of his shorts. He says the same thing to the male owner when he comes to the table.

The stories from Kevin Lerena and Darren largely match each other. They are inconsistent on who came over to the table first, the husband owner or the wife owner. Also, Darren never mentions anything about Oscar apologizing to all of the guys at the table, asking them if they were all ok. According to Darren, Oscar gives no explanation at all. Other than that, the majority of the story matches Kevin Lerena’s account.

Shrapnel hit Kevin Lerena either on the foot or the shin, he wasn’t sure exactly where, and there were a few drops of blood that he could see. Darren told him to keep his foot down and not draw attention to it.

Darren states that he is the one who offered to pay for the damage that was caused by the bullet (not Oscar).

Roux now cross-examines.

They discuss that Darrin had sought legal advice over this situation. Darren admits he did not want to get in trouble so he had a lawyer help him with his statement, knowing that it would be used against Oscar in his trial.

According to Darren, Oscar did say “I’m sorry” on the way out of the restaurant but didn’t say anything else to the owners.

Roux is making a big deal over who came to the table first, the husband or the wife, to show that Darren’s story is not accurate but it’s somewhat of an irrelevant point. Darren is sticking to his version.

Roux now wants Darren to consider that Oscar may not have heard Darren tell him it was one up. Darren doubts this. He acknowledges that it was a noisy restaurant but he also heard Oscar say “ok” in response. Interestingly enough, Kevin Lerena heard him say “one up”, so why wouldn’t Oscar hear him?

Back to the Vaal River trip. Darren explains that they were actually stopped on two occasions that day. The first time was for some time of number/tag violation after they left the river. He did get a ticket for this incident as well and the fine has been paid by the dealership.

Roux wants to know why the dealership is paying these fines for him and Darren can’t answer his question. Upon prompting, Darren states that Justin Devaris is the owner of the dealership. (Justin is one of Oscar and Darren’s buddies. And I too wonder why Darren would give him the tickets to pay?) Roux then insinuates that these fines actually have not been paid and the topic is dropped. It doesn’t really have much relevance but it does dig in to Darren’s credibility.

Roux asks Darren if he was doing 250kph that day? (which is roughly 150mph on an American speedometer.) Darren says he can’t remember. Roux then says, so you can’t deny it? And Darren says how can I deny it if I can’t remember? Then Roux counters back, surely you would remember if you were doing 150mph. Darren again says he can’t remember. It’s very obvious here (at least to me) that he’s not being truthful about that. Best way to get out of something in court is to just say you don’t remember.

At Roux’s request, Darren then clarifies that the sunroof gun shooting incident happened after the 2nd time that they were stopped, which was much later in their ride home, after they had stopped at that house to get Oscar’s gun papers.

They went to the Gourmet Garage for dinner afterwards. Oscar discussed golf with two elderly people in the restaurant. Then they left in the same car they arrived in. Darren doesn’t remember anything else after this. This is important to Roux because early the next day, Oscar was in Scotland playing golf. The fact that both Samantha Taylor and Darren can’t fully remember what happened later that night is raised as a red flag to this incident. Why can’t anybody remember what they did that night after dinner? It is an interesting point.

Roux points out the discrepancies between he and Samantha’s testimony: Samantha did not mention that they were stopped twice, she said Oscar was told to get out of the vehicle by the officers (not that he got out on his own), she claimed that Oscar said he was going to shoot a robot and both he and Darren laughed and that the shot happened shortly after they were stopped (not after they went to the house about the gun papers.) Darren doesn’t recall the incident this way.

Roux tells Darren that Oscar denies he fired a shot and Darren tells the Judge that is incorrect.

Overall, the Defense did well with this witness. Roux drew out a lot of inconsistencies and Darren came across pretty smug. It’s hard to tell if the inconsistencies are because he has a bone to pick with Oscar (whom he is no longer friends with), or if because Samantha is lying (she also has a bone to pick), or if he is trying to save his own backside from some of the stupid things that they have all done together. My take is that these gun incidents did probably happen but elements of them are either being embellished or suppressed because they all acted foolishly and don’t want to get in trouble or make themselves look bad.

This witness doesn’t have a direct effect on the premeditated murder charge, only the other gun related charges which he is accused of.

Court is adjourned for the day.

Oscar Trial – Day 6, March 10 BABA, Medical Examiner SAAYMAN

Pieter Baba, security leader, is back on the stand.

Pieter Baba

Roux brings out the phone records and gives copies to the court. The phone numbers are not read in court for privacy purposes.

The following are calls to the security land line on February 14, 2013:

Dr. Stipp was the first to call security.
His call went through at 3:15:51am. He reported hearing gunshots. Call lasted 16 seconds.

Mr. Nhlengethwa is the second to call security
His call was first attempted at 3:16:16am with no answer
His call went through at 3:16:36am. He reported shots heard.

The following are calls to the security cell phone number on February 14, 2013:

3:21:33am – Oscar calls Baba from one of his cell phones. Call lasted 9 seconds. Oscar was only crying, didn’t speak during this call.

3:22:05am – Baba’s call to Oscar where Oscar states “everything is fine”. The length of this phone call is not read by Roux.

According to Baba: “My Lady, I called Oscar first and Mr. Pistorious told me everything was fine, and before I could speak, the line went dead. A few seconds later Mr. Pistorius called me and there was just crying, then the line went dead again.”

Roux and Baba are going around and around on who called who first. Mr. Baba is insistent that he did and he stated such in his police statement. I’m not sure how they can rectify this difference in the phone records.

Baba then next says: “If I had accepted Mr. Pistorious’ word that ‘everything is fine’ and left his premises, what would have happened?” Good question! I wonder too.

This is my own interjection here but I did get the distinct impression from both Dr. Stipp’s testimony and Baba’s testimony that Oscar wanted to handle this situation in his own way. He called Stander first for a reason. We can only speculate what that was, but the fact remains that he chose to call Stander, who I understand now is the estate administrator. He is not security, as I may have previously reported, nor is he emergency personnel. So what is his relationship to Oscar? We have yet to find out.

Baba also ponders on stand: If Oscar had heard an intruder, why didn’t he call the security right away (there were numerous cell phones and land lines in the house to use) and why did he not just activate his security alarm? More good questions.

Again interjecting, this is what leaves everybody scratching their heads. He was in a home that was surrounded by tall walls and electrical fence, there were 2 guard dogs outside, security guards patroling all night long, they were on stand-by on their phones, and he had a security alarm. It doesn’t get much safer than that. This supposed intruder that Oscar thought he was up against was behind a closed door. Why not just utilize all of his security resources and get the hell out of the house. He was in no immediate obvious danger – he didn’t see anybody, he didn’t hear voices, nobody spoke to him, there were no signs of forced entry, there was nothing.. Of course, getting out of the house would require getting Reeva first. And he made no effort to locate her that night. His only option was to immediately kill the person or persons in that room… an enclosed toilet room… where burglars frequently go when they break in to a house.

He is not claiming to be drunk that night, he does not claim amnesia, he does not claim mental illness or any other type of mental dysfunction that evening. That means that he willfully and knowingly acted as he did. All of his statements leave you with the impression that he had no other solution but to kill. But if you go back to his own version of events, you can find many other far more reasonable alternatives to rectify the situation.

He claims the room was pitch black. Remember, he was the one who made it that way. He had supposedly just closed the door and curtains behind him. If he heard a noise and was too afraid to turn on a light, why not just crack the curtain an inch to see. Again, he had just gotten out of bed, walked across the room and brought in 1 (or 2) fans from the balcony (he has reported changed his story to 2 fans). He could obviously see at that time. It’s all very convenient this “darkness” in the room. Yet, the neighbor testified they saw a light on.

Back to Baba… Baba’s first statement to police was at 1:00pm on February 14. He states that he gave his initial statement at the end of his shift. He was very tired and still in shock over the whole situation. In his first statement he couldn’t describe how Oscar carried Reeva down the stairs or what Oscar was wearing.

But then he testifies that he later gave a second statement and in that statement he was able to describe that Oscar carried Reeva down the stairs with her head facing toward the railing. It sounds like he also was able to recall the clothing that was worn but they do not reveal details at this point in the testimony.

Roux questions why he has suddenly remembered these details in his second statement. Baba reiterates that he was in shock after this incident and was very tired. He was not able to pull the details together until he had time to digest and think about it (paraphrasing).

Baba is excused.

Next to the stand is Professor Gert Saayman, the Medical Examiner who conducted the autopsy.

Earlier this morning, Saayman spoke with Nel and asked that they petition the court to cut the live feed during his testimony. He feels that ethically it should not be broadcast due to the graphic nature of the testimony. Both Nel and Roux agree with Saayman. After legal arguments are heard, including from a media lawyer, the Judge decides that she will block the live feed and will block live tweeting. Reporters are allowed to report on the information but they need to summarize. They cannot directly quote the medical examiner.

My two cents, how in the world can she make this ruling? Trials are public affairs. The public has a right to this information. I agree and support the suppression of images, out of respect and dignity for the deceased and their family. But ALL testimony in a trial is extremely important. It tells the whole story and lends transparency to the verdict that will ultimately be decided. The courts should not and cannot pick and choose what the public gets to hear. I adamantly disagree with this decision. Now we have news outlets from all over the world summarizing in their own words what they heard, and there will no doubt be inaccurate reporting.

As Dr. Saayman begins his testimony, Oscar is reported to be repeatedly vomiting and rocking back and forth in the courtroom. They had to bring him a bucket. The Judge inquires about his well-being. Roux speaks with Oscar and tells the Judge that he won’t be ok with this testimony but please proceed. They do take a break at one point but as soon as they come back, he starts retching again. Apparently he did this for a long stretch of time throughout the testimony.

OP day 6 image

Op day 6 image 4

OP day 6 image 3

As a human being, I can’t help but have a pang of sadness over how broken this man now is. It’s tragic and such a waste. But then I immediately come back to the true victims of this crime, Reeva and her loved ones, and I am very angry that he had the nerve to be walking around with a gun with hollow point bullets, reportedly using it whenever and however he chose. His choices robbed a human being of her life. Now he is having a total meltdown in court. This is what guns do. It’s horrific. He was the one who chose to carry and use that weapon.

This whole break down in court today is very telling to me. He and his defense team obviously had this autopsy information for the past year. This is not new information to him. He is breaking down for other reasons. We can only speculate what they are. Is he sobbing for Reeva or sobbing for his own lost life? Is he completely freaked out that the world now knows exactly how badly Reeva suffered at his hand and he can’t hide from this anymore? Or is there just something simply very wrong with him? Its as if he had absolutely no control yesterday. It wasn’t just a mournful man that we saw, it was reported that he was literally writhing in his chair, plugging his ears, hiding his face, puking… completely coming undone. I really am starting to think there is something wrong with him, I just have no idea what it is.

And sadly, speaking of how badly Reeva suffered…

Below is a compilation of the injuries to Reeva, per the Medical Examiner, as reported by various news outlets. They cannot quote the ME directly but they can summarize his evidence. (Warning: GRAPHIC)

Reeva’s body was nude when it was given to the Medical Examiner. The clothing that she was wearing that night and was given to the ME were a pair of Nike shorts and a black tank top (or vest, as described by the ME, which I understand is a common way to describe a tank in South Africa).

A small 5mm hole was found on the shorts, along with blood spatter. Tissue and bone fragments were found on the tank. Also some tears and small bullet fragments on the tank were reported as well. We have not seen images of the clothing, so we can only go by what is reported by the media.

The bullets used were “Ranger” bullets that are designed to cause the maximum damage on your victim. They mushroom on impact and cause very extreme damage to the tissue. This is not a crime scene photo, just a photo of the bullet type to use as reference.

OP type of bullet used


• Likely that one of the bullets had passed through Reeva’s upper right arm and into her head.
• A bullet entered Reeva’s head in the right upper part, and ran under the skull before it exited from a second wound in the head.
• A bulk of the projectile went into the brain.
• Upper eyelids were blue-reddish.
• Soft tissue swelling but no injury to the eyes.
• Reeva did not take more than a few breaths after suffering her head wound.
• The wound to her head was an incapacitating wound.
• There was physical damage to the brain because of a substantial fracture to the base of the skull, not caused by direct trauma (indicates caused by projectile impact)


• A bullet wound to her right hip, 92cm from the ground. Small 5mm hole found on shorts.
• Right hip bone was shattered and this was likely to cause immediate instability.
• A bullet that hit the hip was so fragmented it was impossible to retrieve fragments.
• This would have been a “painful wound.”
• The injuries to her arm and her right groin or hip area could have been fatal.
• She would have collapsed and, unless she had something to grip onto, it would have been difficult to get back up.
• Incapacitating injury that if not operated on immediately could be fatal. He said there was a 50/50 chance of surviving the injury.
• A blue discoloration on her inner right buttocks that could have been caused from the bullet wound to her right hip.


• Right arm was shattered, leaving it with no functionality.
• Right upper arm had a bluish discoloration surrounding that wound.


• Upper left arm was deformed due to the amount of fracture. (*It is unclear if this was a mistake by a reporter, perhaps they meant to say right arm. There was no other evidence reported of an injury to the left arm.)


• Other wounds were caused by multiple small fragments. There was bruising on skin around the wounds.
• A grouping of abrasions, superficial fractures, on the skin of the torso. These were not penetrating injuries.
• Injuries to her left groin, but these were superficial small abrasions, possibly caused by wooden splinters from the door.
• A wound on the left hand that was between her second and third finger.
Abrasions on her body suggested damage from a blunt object, or projectiles that lost the force to penetrate the skin.
• A few bruises on her body that were not as a result of the shooting located on the upper part of the right thigh, behind the left knee and on the left shin.
• A reddish bruise on the right nipple, could have been caused by frictional contact.
• Two scratches on her back, could have been caused by a blunt object or shrapnel.
• There were splinters reported in and around some of the wounds. It was believed that the hollow point bullets, when they went through the door, collected splinters and embedded them in to the body.

Dr. Saayman will be back on the stand tomorrow to wrap up with Nel and have cross-examination with Roux.

Oscar Trial – Day 5, March 7 Part 2 SAM TAYLOR, BABA

Samantha Taylor is the next witness up. She met Oscar in 2010 at a rugby game. They began communicating on social media and then started dating in 2011. She was 17 at the time.

OP Samantha and Oscar

While they were dating, she spent an average of 4 days per week at his home. Oscar slept on the right hand side of the bed (if standing up looking at the bed). This is the side closest to the balcony. Note in the picture below, police found the gun holster on the other side of the bed next to Reeva’s slippers and overnight bag (which somewhat implies that the left side of the bed was hers).

interior diagram of OP house 2

Samantha states that Oscar did own a gun at the time they were dating. He kept it on him at all times. At night, he slept with the gun either on the bedside table next to him or next to his legs on the floor. Oscar had 2 cell phones while they were dating, one for work and one for personal use. He used his phones frequently including at night. She estimated that he would use the phone approximately 4-5 times in bed each night. Not for voice calls, but for other things such as messaging. He also used his iPad frequently.

She also testified that she has heard Oscar scream, and has witnessed him being very anxious, and he never screamed like a woman. He sounded like a man.

One time they went to the Vaal River with friends. Oscar, Samantha and Darren Fresco were in one car. Justin Devaris and Sam Greyvenstein in another car. While they were driving home that day they were stopped by the police for speeding. The policeman asked Oscar and Darren to get out of the car. Oscar left his gun on the seat. When the policeman saw the gun on the seat, he told Oscar that it could not just be left there. The policeman cocked the gun and the bullets fell out in to the car. Oscar got very angry and shouted at the policeman and told him he was not allowed to touch his gun. Afterwards, they put the gun back together and left.

Oscar and Darren were irritated with the policeman and they laughed and said they wanted to shoot a robot (traffic light). Shortly later, Oscar then shot a bullet out of the open sunroof with his gun. Both Oscar and Darren laughed. Darren was driving at the time. Oscar was in the passenger seat. Samantha was in the backseat behind Oscar. Nobody discussed the incident after. From there, they went to sign gun papers over at a friend of Oscar’s house. Samantha could not recall where this friend’s house was, although she does remember the details of the home very well. They went to dinner afterwards in Sandton.

In addition to Oscar yelling at Samantha on occasion, she also witnessed him yelling at her sister, her best friend and Oscar’s best friend Alex. On these occasions, he did not scream like a woman according to Samantha. Samantha said their relationship ended because he cheated on her with Reeva Steenkamp. At this point she becomes emotional and they take a short break from testimony.

Roux cross-examines when they come back. He tells Samantha that he will provide emails from Samantha that prove she and Oscar were broken up when Oscar first went out with Reeva. According to Samantha, the first time their relationship ended was when he cheated on her with a woman named Anastasia while he was on a trip in New York. The second time their relationship ended was November 4, 2012, when Oscar took Reeva to the sports awards. Roux disputes that they were still in a relationship at that time.

Oscar and Reeva sports awards

Samantha testifies that a week prior they were in Sun City and did have issues at that time. Over the course of that week there was a lot of commotion in their relationship, but they had not broken up. During that time she sent Oscar an email but does not elaborate on the contents. Roux hints that he will be bringing that in to evidence at some point but does not produce it now.

Samantha confirms that at the time of their relationship, she was living in Johannesburg. She also confirms that in Oscar’s bedroom at night time when the lights are off and the curtains are closed, it is dark. But she did state that Oscar would usually keep his curtain cracked a little bit because he would get up to train at 5am.

Roux wants to know more about the times when Samantha witnessed Oscar screaming. Samantha says he was mostly screaming when he was angry. Roux points out that these were angry situations and not situations of a life-threatening nature. Implying that the tone of his voice would be different.

Roux states that according to Darren Fresco’s statement, the incident in the car with the sunroof was on September 30, 2012. Roux asks her how long was it after they were pulled over by police that Oscar shot the gun. She states approximately 15 minutes. Afterwards, they went to a friend’s house to sign papers for guns. She can’t remember where exactly this house was and Roux is questioning her memory. Afterwards they went to a burger place in Apple Square in Sandton. From there, they went back to Justin Devaris’ house where Oscar’s car was parked. It was evening. She and Oscar went home and she believes she may have spent the night.

Roux asks Samantha how well she remembers the incident, and she says she remembers it well. He brings up that Oscar and Darren were laughing at the time of the shot, and Oscar didn’t actually shoot out of anger. But Samantha reminds him that Oscar was angry at the police officer and that is what caused them to say they wanted to shoot a robot in the first place. Roux wants us to focus on the fact that they were laughing at the time and not shooting out of anger, I’m guessing to imply that it’s not as big of a deal to shoot a gun if you’re laughing at the time. Don’t you just love defense lawyers, they make some fancy justifications.

Roux challenges her about whether or not she really remembers this event accurately because the next day, October 1, 2012, Oscar was in Scotland at an event. Samantha states that she doesn’t remember him going to Scotland the next day, but she does remember that both of their suitcases were in the car at the time. He asks her again if she slept over at his house that night and she states that perhaps she did not and maybe he dropped her off at home afterwards. But she does very clearly remember the shooting incident that happened earlier that day.

Going back to Oscar’s bedroom, Roux wants to address which side of the bed that Oscar sleeps on. He asks her if she is aware that Oscar had an injured shoulder and was sleeping on the left side of the bed on the 12th and 13th of February, 2013. Samantha states she was not there that night so she would not know anything about that. He also asks her if she was aware that Oscar liked fresh air on his prosthetics at night. She does not recall that. Roux states that Oscar likes air on his legs at night. I’m guessing this will be the justification for getting up at 3am to bring fans inside the room. It will also be the justification for why Oscar’s gun holster was on the left side of the bed, not the right. Sounds like Roux will present some evidence about a shoulder injury later in trial during their presentation.

He then asks Samantha if Oscar can walk well on his stumps. She said yes but he often needed to balance against something. Roux asks Samantha if Oscar was frequently afraid. Samantha says not necessarily. She is aware that he carried a gun around with him but she would not describe him as being afraid all the time.

He asks her if she remembers in April 2012, that they were pursued by a white C class Mercedes and Oscar had to jump out of his car near the security gate where he lived out of fear. She says yes, she recalls an incident but that it was a black BMW that was following them. Roux tells her perhaps that was another incident, but go on and describe it anyway. She explains that when they arrived at Oscar’s estate, Oscar jumped out of the car and held his gun to the BMW’s window and the person drove away. He asked her if she was in fear (trying to ascertain why Oscar had to react that way) and she says no, I don’t recall being scared. Roux drops the discussion and moves on to the telephones. Interestingly enough, Oscar drives a white car (which can be seen on security footage at his estate – I’ll include that photo below.) So perhaps Samantha was correct, they were in the white car and the pursuing car was black. Roux does not seem to agree with her.

Roux wants to know if Oscar always took his cell phones to bed with him at night. Samantha states that he would leave his work phone in the kitchen and would take the personal cell phone to bed with him at night. She said that wherever he went in the house, he took the phone with him including bathroom, kitchen, etc. The phone was always with him, he never left it alone. His phone charger was next to his bed, so she reiterates that the phone was with him next to the bed every night.

The cell phones are an important piece to the puzzle, I believe. I am very interested to see Oscar and Reeva’s phone records for that night, as well as any data they retrieved from the units. Two cell phones were found in the bathroom that night just outside of the toilet room door (see the bathroom image above). It makes me wonder if Reeva had his phone in the bathroom with her and possibly discovered something that he didn’t want her to see. We’ll have to wait and find out what the State has on this. Very interesting that Oscar reportedly never left his phone alone.

According to Roux, Oscar claims that when he is outside of his home sleeping at other places, he keeps his firearm next to his prosthetic legs. But in his own home he keeps his gun under the bed on the side where he is sleeping. Samantha states that she never witnessed him keeping his gun under his bed while they were a couple.

Roux wants to know how Samantha felt about the break-up with Oscar this last time (in November 2012, when he started dating Reeva). She states she was upset. She then breaks down and cries again on the stand, and they take another short break. She clearly has raw emotions about him and one would imagine is probably freaked out by the fact that she dodged a bullet, literally. Of course I can’t confirm her emotions for sure, I’m just speculating.

When they come back, Roux confronts her about two emails that she sent to Oscar admitting that she cheated on him and thus apologized. Samantha says she has never admitted to cheating on him, however she did admit in her emails her relationship with Quinton.

She explains, she did not cheat on Oscar. She dated a man named Quinton after their first break up. She states she has emails to prove this. She traveled with Quinton van der Burgh to Dubai, and they did have a relationship. At the time, Oscar was over in London. She also made reference to an altercation that occurred because of this man, but did not bring up further details nor did the lawyers question her about that. They noticeably did not address the altercation, perhaps because it’s just not relevant to this case. I did find these details online about the altercation which happened back in 2012. NOTE: this was not entered in to trial evidence so I cannot confirm the legitimacy of these details, nor should it be used to help you form an opinion about the accused.


They are back from break now and Roux says that he got clarification that Oscar was driving the black BMW and the car following was a white Mercedes. He says that Oscar phoned security on the way to the gate to inform them about possibly being followed. He jumped out of the car when they reached the gate and simply backed away from the car. Samantha says she doesn’t remember him phoning security. She remembers when they were driving down the road he noticed a car was following them. When they got to the gate he jumped out of his car and went to their window with his gun. Roux states that Oscar did not go up to the car but Samantha says that he did go up to the car. So it’s a classic he said, she said situation.

In Roux’s conclusion he tells Samantha that Oscar denies that he shot a gun through an open sunroof of the car. Samantha states that she absolutely can remember that he did and it was on their way back from the Vaal River trip.

Nel cross-examines. Samantha again recounts the situation where they were being followed. As they arrived at the main gate of his estate, he jumped out of the car and put his gun to that car’s window and the car then drove away.

Nel asks Samantha if there was ever a time when she was at Oscar’s house that he thought an intruder was in the house. Samantha says yes, there was one occasion where something hit the bathroom window while they were sleeping. Oscar woke her up and asked her if she heard it. She said it must just be from the storm that they were having that night. He got up with his gun and walked out of the room. His friend Matthew who was staying at Oscar’s house at the time walked out of his room as well. They investigated and that was that. She said there were one or two other occasions where Oscar woke her up and asked her if she heard anything.

No further questions, Samantha is excused.

Next witness is Pieter Baba. He is a shift leader and security guard at Silverwood Estates where Oscar lives. He had been working there for 2 years. There are typically 5 guards on for each shift.

Whenever visitors come to see a resident, they take down their license plate information and the driver gives the guard their driver’s license and their state number. Security then phones the resident and requests permission to let the person enter. If they don’t get a hold of the owner then they will send the person away and not let them in.

On the night of February 13, 2013, Baba was on duty at the gate. He knows Oscar Pistorius, he is one of their security clients. He also knew Reeva through Oscar. Baba saw Reeva at 6pm that night when she arrived at the gate. She was alone inside of her car. He spoke with her. They did not phone Oscar’s house that night when she arrived because Reeva had already been there earlier that day. They opened the gate and let her in. Oscar arrived a few minutes after Reeva. Baba greeted Oscar and Oscar was on his cell phone at that time.

Below are images of the security gate and CCTV images of Reeva and Oscar arriving to the estate entrance on February 13.

Silverwood security gate

CCTV image of Reeva arriving on Feb 13 2

OP arriving on Feb 13

The main access gate is closed at 8pm in the evenings. And at 9pm all gates to the community are closed.

One of the guards who was on patrol that night came to inform Baba at the main gate that there were some gates and doors open – Mrs. van der Mewre’s gate was open, Dr. Stipp’s top sliding door was open and the 194 small gate was open (not sure where this 194 gate is). Baba then decided to accompany this guard to make sure that all was in order. They did see the 194 gate open. They also spoke to Dr. Stipp who confirmed they were not yet asleep and wanted to keep their door open due to the hot weather that night. And at Mrs. van der Mewre’s, her upper gate (door?) was indeed open and he sent them SMS’s (messages) from the site cell phone to notify them. Baba then accompanied the other patrol guard in order to patrol the estate as a whole. (side note: the interpreter who was translating Baba’s testimony was very difficult to understand, so if Baba’s testimony details seem a bit choppy it’s because this is how it was communicated in court.)

Baba confirmed that security has a land line phone, as well as a site cell phone for when they are out on patrol. All the residents have both phone numbers.

At about 2:55am the guards arrived back at the gate after their routine patrol. At shortly past 3:00am, the guard who was on bike/buggy duty came to the gate to report that they heard rifle shots. After a few moments Baba also received a phone call from Dr. Stipp and another neighbor. They reported hearing gunshots from their neighbor’s house. Since Baba didn’t know which neighbor’s house the noise was coming from, he called the guard who was driving the security vehicle and asked him to drive around and check it out. He also ordered the guard on the bike/buggy duty to take him over to Dr. Stipp’s house to investigate.

They arrived at Dr. Stipp house and he was out on the balcony. Dr. Stipp pointed directed at Oscar’s house and Oscar’s house lights were on so the guards immediately drove over there.

OP house

Oscar Pistorius house

Oscar Pistorius house 2

Oscar Pistorius house 3

Oscar Pistorius house 4

Oscar Pistorius house 5

Upon arrival at Oscar’s house, Baba called Oscar from outside of the home using the site cell phone. He spoke to Oscar who said “security, everything is fine”. That’s when he realized that Oscar was crying. Baba then said to the other guard who was driving that everything is NOT in order here as Oscar is telling me. I then tried to speak to Oscar to see if he could come downstairs just so he could make sure that everything was fine. That’s went the conversation ended. (I take that to mean Oscar hung up on him.) Oscar called him back and didn’t say anything but was just crying and the phone disconnected again. Baba thinks that Oscar may have dialed him back accidentally.

Baba told the other guard again that something is wrong. At that time, Johan Stander and his daughter arrived in a blue mini cooper and they parked the car half way in to the street. Baba could see from the look on their faces that they knew something bad had happened. The Standers jumped out of their car and raced straight to Oscar’s house without saying a word to the guards. Baba and the other guard ran after them.

When they were just about to reach the door, Oscar saw them standing outside. That is when Oscar then came down the stairs carrying Reeva in his arms. Baba was very shocked by what he was seeing that he couldn’t even think for a few moments. How could everything be “fine” when Oscar was carrying a woman down the stairs. When Mr. Stander said “Oscar”, Baba kind of snapped out of his shock. The Stander’s daughter (I believe – the interpreter was hard to understand here) was the one who opened the door and went inside and Mr. Stander was standing in the doorway. I got the impression from the way that Baba was testifying that the Standers were blocking the guards’ entrance.

It seems to me that they were very aware that Oscar had a serious problem and wanted to be the first on the scene to deal with it. I don’t know what exactly that means, but I’m theorizing that perhaps Oscar wanted to deal with this in his own way, make it look like this horrible accident and try to keep it as quiet as possible. Remember, Dr. Stipp testified on Thursday that after he examined Reeva and was standing outside with the Standers that the daughter (or the wife, not sure which) made the comment “I hope this doesn’t get out to the public.” That is interesting to me. In the immediate moments after such a horrible event, the tragic loss of a loved one, the idea of Oscar or others being worried about how the public will perceive this is very disturbing.

Baba, as he was snapping out of his shock, then noted that he wanted to see what type of clothing Oscar was wearing. Oddly enough, he never stated on stand what he was wearing. The lawyers never expanded on that at all. Nor did they address what Reeva was wearing, which is something that the public has been wanting to know for a long time. Was she in street clothes or pajamas? For some reason, neither lawyer addressed clothing at this time. Perhaps they are waiting for the police or medical examiner’s testimony to bring up those details. Seems to me, it would have been ideal to have Dr. Stipp testify as to what Oscar and Reeva were both wearing. He could have either confirmed (or contradicted) what the future witnesses will say about clothing. For some reason, neither Nel nor Roux asked Stipp about clothing either.

At this point, according to Baba’s testimony, Mr. Stander told Baba to go call police and the ambulance. He also gave the guards instructions to make sure that no cars were parked at Oscar’s house. I’m not sure what that was about. Was it to make way for emergency personnel (which doesn’t really make sense, they could just park in the street right outside) or was it for some other reason? The lawyers did not expand on this either.

Baba then left to go make the phone calls. He also called the control room office and informed the manager of what was happening. Baba never went in the house that night. He does confirm though that the lights were on inside the house.

So the security guards never went in the house and police didn’t show up until after Dr. Stipp left. There was a good chunk of time that Oscar and his “people” had the house to themselves.

Roux cross-examines Baba. Baba explains how they keep track of their patrols. There is a guard track outside of Oscar’s house that goes off every hour. They need to stop there to indicate their patrol otherwise the machine indicates “failed patrol”. Roux looks at the records for the guard track that night. At 2:20am the morning of February 14, 2013, the guard track was activated meaning that the guards did patrol that area. According to the statement of the guard on that patrol, everything was normal outside of Oscar’s home at 2:20am.

The defense has the phone records for the land line of the estate security and wants to review them. Roux states that Dr. Stipp made a call to them at 3:15:51am. It was a 16 second call. (Interestingly, Roux claimed yesterday that Stipp’s called to security went through at 3:27am. Roux is contradicting himself.)

Baba states that during this 3:15:51am phone call to Dr. Stipp, he was told by Dr. Stipp that gunshots were heard coming from his neighbors. Dr. Stipp wanted them to come see what was going on.

There was another call from another neighbor at 3:16:15am, which initially didn’t go through, but did successfully get through at 3:16:36am. It lasted for 44 seconds. This additional neighbor also reported shots heard.

So Stipp and the neighbor both called security within about 30 seconds of each other reporting the shots. Based on the recorded call times, the shots would have been heard just prior to 3:16am

Roux also stated that Oscar made a call to the security cell number at 3:21:33am. Baba suggests that this must be the time that Oscar called him back and was only crying (the call when he assumes that Oscar accidentally dialed him back). No words were spoken by Oscar during that call. Roux then tells Baba that the call that he made to Oscar was at 3:24am. So he is trying to say that Oscar called Baba first, not the other way around. Roux is fumbling with papers at this point. He states he needs to get these records in order for the court and wants to address them further on Monday.

On February 14, 2013, at 1pm, Baba made a statement to the police. He states that he told the police that Oscar said to him “security, everything is fine.” Roux wants to know if Baba can think about the conversation again and is it possible that Oscar responded that “he was fine”? Mr. Barber states no… he remembers very clearly that Oscar said exactly “security, everything is fine”. Baba does reconfirm that Oscar was crying at the time.

They adjourn for the weekend.

Oscar Trial – Day 5, March 7 Part 1 Dr STIPP

OP trial day 5

Dr. Johan Stipp is back on the stand. Roux is cross-examining. He is trying to nail down how quickly Dr. Stipp got out of bed after he was awoken and then heard screams. Dr. Stipp states that it was just moments (seconds). He testifies to hearing approximately 3 screams. He looked at the house to the right of Oscar’s and all of the lights were on. He looked at Oscar’s house and just the bathroom light was on. At the same time he is trying to ascertain where exactly the screams are coming from. Roux is trying very hard to nail him down on exactly which of these things came first – the screaming, or the looking at the lights, talking to his wife, etc. Dr. Stipp is trying to explain back to him that all of these things are happening at the same time. Roux desperately needs there to be extra time in between the two sets of bangs because according to Oscar’s statement, he did quite a few things in between when the shots took place and when he knocked in the door panel with the cricket bat. Roux is trying to sell that the initial bangs that got Dr. Stipp out of bed were the gunshots and the second set of bangs was the cricket bat breaking down the door. Since Reeva can’t scream anymore after the gunshots, clearly the only logical solution for the screaming heard in between is Oscar screaming like a woman. They can’t be having a woman screaming at all because it destroys Oscar’s case.

So… in playing along with Roux, I have tried to interject Dr. Stipp’s account of events in to Oscar’s statement from his bail affidavit. This is what I come up with:

Oscar shoots through the toilet room door and Oscar starts wailing, so much so, and extremely high-pitched, that all of the neighbors think they hear a woman screaming (although, he never states that he does this in his affidavit). THIS IS WHEN STIPP WAKES UP AND GOES OUT ON HIS BALCONY AND SEES THE BATHROOM LIGHT ON, AND HEARS THE SCREAMS. That light was on immediately after the FIRST SET of bangs that Dr. Stipp heard. So that would have to mean that the light was either on during the gunfire or Oscar turned it on immediately after the gunfire (if we are to believe that the first bangs heard were shots). Remember, at this point Oscar supposedly didn’t know that it was Reeva in the toilet room. In light of that, why is he wailing like a woman? This is why Roux needs to know when exactly Stipp heard the screams because it makes no sense that Oscar is screaming within seconds of the gunshot. But according to Stipp, that is what he heard.

This is what Oscar said in his affidavit:

After he fired the shots, he yelled to Reva to call the police and she did not respond. He moved away from the bathroom, keeping his eyes on the entrance and everything was still pitch black in the bedroom. (The bedroom and the bathroom are not that far apart that light in the bathroom wouldn’t provide some illumination down the hallway.)

He specifically states “I was still too scared to switch on a light”. Those are his words. Again, I have to remind you that at this point Stipp is seeing the light on and hearing intense high pitched screaming, yet Oscar still doesn’t know that it is Reeva who is shot in the toilet room.

Oscar makes his way to the bed and realizes she’s not there and all of a sudden it dawns on him that it might be her in the toilet, not an intruder. He goes back to the bathroom and he realizes the toilet door is locked and goes back to the bedroom again. He then opens the balcony door, walks out and yells help, help, help.

When he comes in from the balcony, he puts his legs on, goes to the bathroom to try to kick the door in and in his own words – “I think I must then have turned on the lights”

He can’t kick the door in with his prosthetic legs so he goes back to the bedroom to get the cricket bat and returns to bash the door panel in.

(Side note: would somebody really use a prosthetic leg to try to kick a door in? It doesn’t seem to me like that would be the most stable thing to do. But perhaps in the heat of the moment, somebody would. Just something else to think about.)

So, even if we go with the defense story and try to weave in Dr. Stipp’s account, it still doesn’t work. They don’t fit.

If we are to believe the witness Dr. Stipp and believe that the bathroom light was indeed on that whole time, that also creates a serious problem for Oscar’s claim that he saw the bathroom window open and felt a rush of terror. Does it seem likely to you that somebody who breaks in to your home in the middle of the night via your bathroom window is going to turn the light on? Oscar being “terrorized” by this is simply illogical.

One discrepancy that was found amongst witness Dr. Stipp and witnesses Mrs. Burger and Mr. Johnson is that Burger and Johnson heard blood-curdling screaming immediately before and during the bangs that occurred at 3:17am. The screams trailed off with the last bang according to them. Dr. Stipp did not hear screaming immediately before and during the shots at 3:17am (these would be the second set of shots he heard), although he did point out that he was inside dialing security on the phone trying to get somebody to help when he heard that 2nd volley of shots. It’s possible because he was inside focusing on getting a hold of somebody that he did not hear the additional screams that were taking place as those 3:17am shots were going off.

Now, they are back to discussing Dr. Stipp’s vantage point. They review photos so Roux can understand what he saw. Dr. Stipp explains that he could see the top half of the middle and right window and all of the left window. Parts of the windows to the right are obstructed by trees, that is why he only saw half of those. The bathroom windows consist of 3 sections and according to Oscar, it was the section on the left that was open (if you are looking at the windows from the outside). Here is a photo of the windows from the inside – so it would be the window section closest to the toilet door on the right that Oscar states was open.

OP bathroom

Roux wants to know how Dr. Stipp saw a figure moving in the window since the windows are frosted. He assumes it’s because the window on the left is open and he can see the figure through that open space. Surprisingly, Dr. Stipp states that he doesn’t recall that window being open. This would be another huge problem for Oscar. The window being open is one of the things that supposedly freaked him out so much that he went in to full blown terror mode thinking there was an intruder in there. But Dr. Stipp states that he can’t definitely say if it was open or closed, just that he doesn’t recall that it looked open. Roux states they have pictures from the scene and puts the kibosh to that conversation quickly.

He also addresses the sound tests that they conducted on February 21st this year. He wants to know what Dr. Stipp heard. Dr.Stipp heard loud voices that sounded like they were arguing. But he did not hear screaming. The voices sounded male. He couldn’t make out specifically if one was male and one was female. According to Roux, it was a male and female conducting the test and they were screaming. Dr. Stipp was finally excused.

Next up is Samantha Taylor, Oscar’s ex-girlfriend, and Pieter Baba, a security leader from Silverwood Estates. I will write about their testimony tomorrow.

Oscar and Samantha
OP and Samantha Taylor

Oscar Trial – Day 4, March 6 JOHNSON, Dr STIPP

Charl Johnson is back on the stand today for more cross-examination from Roux.
Once again, Roux is trying to get Mr. Johnson to say that he and his wife collaborated on their testimony. He explained how he gave his statement to police, which was separate from his wife, and what he is testifying to today is what he originally stated to police. The notes that they were looking for yesterday have been found. Roux wants to review them. He goes through several lines to try to point out where Johnson is now embellishing his testimony. Roux actually goes so far as to say he has “designed” his testimony for court. Mr. Johnson points out to the judge that he has absolutely no reason or incentive to design his answers for the court.

Two important points that Mr. Johnson gets in to testimony today is that he is a gun owner, so he is very familiar with the sound of gunfire. He holds steadfast to the fact that what he heard that night around 3:17am was gunfire. Second, he also testified that he heard female screams and male screams occurring at the same time. This contradicts Roux’s argument that Oscar was screaming so loud that he sounded like a woman. No way for Oscar to make his voice sound like two different people. Roux wants to eat Mr. Johnson alive, and has tried to for two days now, but Mr. Johnson was solid. Mr. Johnson is excused.

Next witness up is Dr. Johan Stipp. He is one of Oscar’s neighbors in Silverwood Estates, but does not personally know Oscar. His house is located at the back of Oscar’s about 72 meters away. Dr. Stipp’s bedroom directly overlooks Oscar’s bathroom windows.

See the image below to find the vantage point of Dr. Stipp. Oscar’s house is circled in red. The windows to the bathroom where the shooting occurred are on the back side of Oscar’s house on the left side. If you look directly across the field at the back of Oscar’s house, the house with the orange roof is Dr. Stipp’s. The window above the garage is their bedroom. That window is actually a door that opens to a small balcony. To the right of that around the corner is another larger bedroom balcony. Dr. Stipp looked from both balconies that night to see what was going on. The larger balcony has a slightly better view around the trees in Oscar’s backyard.

OP aerial view of home

aerial view of house2

Dr. Stipp was home on the night of February 13, 2013, along with his wife, three children and domestic servant. He went to bed around 10:30pm that night. Both bedroom balcony doors were open.

During the night he was awakened by 3 loud bangs. His wife asked him “what was that” and he replied “I think it was gunshots”. He got up out of bed and went out on to the balcony. He then heard screaming which sounded like a female. She screamed 3 or 4 times. He later states in his testimony that she sounded extremely fearful. All of this happened within a matter of short moments.

He noticed that the house directly to the right of Oscar’s had all of their lights on. And in Oscar’s house, the bathroom light was on. Dr. Stipp went back inside and called Silverwood security. There was no answer. So then he called 10111 (not sure what this is), got a fast ringing. While he was trying to figure out who to call next, he heard another 3 loud bangs. He thought that these also sounded like gunshots. He told his wife to get away from the window, fearing for her safety. He eventually got through to the security. He reported what he heard and they said they would send someone. He was pacing around his room at this time. He went back out on to the balcony again. He then heard a man shouting “help” three times. He went back inside again.

Security arrived a few minutes later at the Stipp house in a vehicle. Dr. Stipp spoke to them from his balcony. He told them what he heard and where it was coming from and they left to go investigate. Dr. Stipp watched them as they drove off. He looked back over at Oscar’s bathroom window and could see somebody inside moving from the right to the left. He discussed with his wife if he should go over there to see if they need help. He first drove down to security to make sure it was safe to go there and they said yes, they have already sent somebody there.

Dr. Stipp drove to Oscar’s house, he parked, and there was a man (Mr. Stander) speaking on a cell phone leaning against a white car in the parking lot. That man motioned him toward the front door. There was a lady standing in the doorway (Stander’s daughter). He stated to her that he was a doctor, can he be of assistance, she said yes and walked him inside.

At the bottom of the stairs Reeva was lying on her back on the floor.

OP stairs

As he bent down, he noticed there was a man to her left kneeling next to her. He had his left hand on her right groin and his right hand second and third fingers in her mouth. Oscar said “I shot her. I thought she was a burglar and I shot her.” Dr. Stipp tried to assist her. He checked for pulses and could not find any. She had no breathing movements. She also was clenching down on Oscar’s fingers as he was trying to open her airway. He tried to do a jaw lift maneuver which was very difficult due to the clenching. He opened her right eyelid. Her pupil was fixed dilated and the cornea was milky. It was obvious that she was mortally wounded. He also noted that she had a wound in her right thigh and a wound in her right upper arm. On the right area of her skull was hair, blood and brain tissue. It was a very severe, fatal injury.

Oscar sobbed loudly during this testimony and had his head hanging low.

OP trial day 4

Oscar was crying all the while Dr. Stipp was there that night. He was praying to God “please let her live, I will dedicate my life and her life to God if you will just let her live.” Dr. Stipp went outside and asked Mr. Stander if the ambulance was on their way. He said no, he hadn’t called them yet so Dr. Stipp called the hospital emergency department and asked them to send an ambulance. They told him he had to call an emergency number, not them directly, so Mr. Stander called an emergency number. Dr. Stipp spoke to the dispatcher, explained the injuries, and they proceeded to send out an ambulance.

At one time when Dr. Stipp was outside talking to Mr. Stander, Oscar went back upstairs. Dr. Stipp asked Mr. Stander where the gun was located because he was afraid that Oscar was going upstairs to kill himself. Mr. Stander said he didn’t know where the gun was. Oscar came back a few minutes later. Mr. Stander’s wife arrived at some point. They were all outside talking and Mrs. Stander made a comment that she hoped this didn’t get out to the papers. The ambulance arrived a short while after. Dr. Stipp told Mr. Stander that he was no longer of use so he would go back home and they exchanged phone numbers. Dr. Stipp got in his car and drove back home. He told his wife what had happened. They tried to get a little rest after that but at 4:17am the phone rang and it was Mr. Stander notifying him that Oscar’s lawyer may be calling him shortly to discuss the incident. He never received any calls after that.

The next morning Dr. Stipp went to work. His wife called him around 9am and she told him that the woman who was killed the night prior was Oscar Pistorius’s girlfriend and you were in Oscar’s house. Dr. Stipp knew that Oscar lived in the neighborhood but he did not know that was Oscar the previous night. He was surprised to hear this news. Nobody ever contacted Dr. Stipp that day to question him which he thought was unusual. The next day, he went down to the security gate and asked the estate manager for a phone number for a police officer so he could give a statement about what he witnessed. The officer that he called met him at the hospital where he works and took his statement on February 15. A few months later, he made another statement to detective Van Aardt.

Dr. Stipp also testified about his experience with guns. He has prior army experience and was trained on an assault rifle and a 9mm pistol. So he is familiar with gunfire noises.

Going back to the screams, when he heard the woman initially screaming he believed he could also hear a man’s voice at the same time that sounded lower. He believes he heard two different voices at the same time. This is similar to what Mrs. Burger and Mr. Johnson said. Voices were intermingled.

Dr. Stipp is asked if he saw the police at Oscar’s house after the incident and he says no, they didn’t arrive until after he had left to go back home. I believe this is important because there was a fair amount of time from when the shooting occurred to when police arrived that the scene was not secure.

Dr. Stipp states that he also heard the yelling noises at Oscar’s house on February 21, 2014, which were the screaming tests that were being conducted by the defense prior to trial. He couldn’t hear what they were saying but he could hear the yelling.

Roux cross-examines. This is an important point for the defense. He is pointing out to Dr. Stipp that the second set of bangs that he heard that night coincide with the bangs that Mrs. Burger and Mr. Johnson heard at 3:17am that night. We know that there were only 4 gunshots that went off that night. We also know that at some time after the gunshots, Oscar broke a panel out of the door with a cricket bat. The defense’s position is that the shots came first, the female screaming that came next was actually Oscar crying out in grief, and the second banging noises heard (the ones at 3:17am) were the cricket bat. But Dr. Stipp feels very certain that the second round of bangs that he heard were shots. The bangs were close in succession and it’s more likely that a gun would create that noise so quickly, not a hand-wielded bat (paraphrasing).

So it begs the question, what was the first set of bangs that Dr. Stipp heard that woke he and his wife? My own theorizing here, but we know there was a cricket bat involved somehow in this event. Oscar states it was only used to break open the door. Maybe it was used in an earlier argument? Maybe he banged on the door or something else while they were fighting, Reeva runs to the toilet room and locks herself in out of fear. Oscar runs to get the gun, all the while the neighbors hear her screaming in terror, and then Oscar shoots her through the door. Just my own theory of what could have happened that fits what everybody heard. It makes sense to me that the Stipps could have heard additional banging because they were closer than the other witnesses. Burger and Johnson very likely only heard gunshots because of their distance. It makes no logical sense that they would hear wood banging on wood, but not gunshots.

Back to the cross-examination, Roux is trying to suggest to Dr. Stipp that there was a decent period of time between when he heard the first bangs and he got out of bed to go to balcony, made a call to security, and then heard the second set of bangs. Roux needs all of this to happen in approximately 2 or 2 and a half minutes to fit Oscar’s timeline. Dr. Stipp is explaining to Roux that all of this happened very rapidly. There were no long delays or lengthy conversations in between, it all happened very quickly.

Roux is now going back to Dr. Stipp’s original statement to police on February 15, and his testimony today, somewhat accusing him of not being entirely clear about what he witnessed. He has done this with every single witness… accusing some of flat out lying, accusing some of being confused, accusing them of changing statements, etc. Basically he has told almost every witness that what they heard was incorrect. I can’t fault him too much on that because if the Judge gives full weight to these witnesses, Oscar will be crushed.

It’s fascinating to me to see how different this South African court is from an American court. The lawyers seem to be able to make broad sweeping accusations at witnesses and it’s allowed. This would not happen in American courts. They would be admonished by the Judge. You certainly can question a witness’s credibility, and you should, but you can’t badger them. You can’t repeatedly tell them that they are mistaken about what they witnessed. That’s not up for a lawyer to decide, it’s up to the Judge (or a jury in the US) to decide. The other thing that is interesting is that the lawyers are able to make statements within their questioning, which is odd. Opening and closing statements are typically where you hear the lawyers give their theories. These lawyers seem to be able to interject their own theories and beliefs in to their questions and almost state them as fact. It’s very different here.

So going back to Roux’s timeline, if the first set of bangs were gunshots which the defense says they were, there could not have possibly been a female screaming afterwards because of the fatal nature of the head wound. There would be no way to account for the screams that Dr. Stipp heard in between bangs. That means either two things: the first set of bangs that were heard were not gunshots and were something else, or, they were gunshots and the screams that were heard were indeed Oscar’s screams that sounded like a woman (heard by 4, maybe more, witnesses). When this dilemma is put to Dr. Stipp, he replies that perhaps the cricket bat banging happened first and the gunshots last. Roux explains that this is not possible because the cricket bat broke out the panel in the door but there were gunshot holes in that panel, so the shots must have come first. We have not seen the ballistic reports or the reports on the door yet in the trial, but Roux also adds that there were splinters from the door lodged in the deceased.

Roux goes back to his argument that the only possible scenario is that the female screams heard were actually Oscar. He has sound experts who tested his voice and will come to court to demonstrate to everybody how he sounds like a woman. That should be interesting! Dr. Stipp yet again points out that he heard two different sets of voices intermingled. And poses back to Roux “am I to believe that he was screaming in two voices or two tones”? Roux’s only defense back is that the doctor is mistaken about what he heard that night.

OP Gerrie Nel 2

Finally… Nel objects to the Judge that Roux is stating theories as fact. They argue a bit about which set of noises actually killed Reeva, and Nel wants to clarify to the court that the state’s position is the shots heard at approximately 3:17am are the shots that killed Reeva and there would be no screaming after. The defense’s position is that the first set of bangs heard prior to 3:17am are the ones that killed Reeva, therefore the screaming after could not have been Reeva but only Oscar. That in a nutshell is the difference in cases. That is why these ear witnesses are so crucial. And needless to say, ballistics will be crucial too. Seems like they need to figure out what it was that Dr. Stipp heard banging prior to 3:17am.

Cross-examination continued and Roux wants to know again Oscar’s emotional state when the doctor first saw him that night. Dr. Stipp states he seemed very sincere, he was crying with tears on his face. Praying to God that she would live. He wanted Dr. Stipp to help her and he appeared to be actively trying to assist her.

They look again at the exterior pictures of Oscar’s bathroom windows. Roux points out that the glass on the window is frosted and the view is slightly obscured by a tree. Dr. Stipp points out that he was on the large balcony looking at the house and that view is better than the small balcony. He did see a person’s silhouette moving from right to left in that window. This is important because it will come up at some point in the trial whether or not Oscar was wearing his prosthetics at the time of the shooting. If the neighbor can see somebody moving in that window, you have to wonder how tall that person was. They will no doubt be looking at measurements at some point. But it sounds like Dr. Stipp saw this figure after security arrived (so after all the commotion) and Oscar did state in his affidavit that he put his legs on after the shooting, so it might not be such a revelation after all. We’ll have to wait and see.

Here is an inside view of the large bathroom window

OP bathroom

Here is an inside view of the toilet room. This is one of the photos that was leaked to the public back in 2013.

OP toilet room and door graphic

And this is another view of the layout of the bathroom. The windows would have been to the left of Oscar as he is shooting in to the bathroom door.

A plan of Oscar Pistorius's house. Graphic: Paddy Allen, Finbarr Sheehy, Paul Scruton, David Smith

The other very important point that came up was that the bathroom light was on DURING the screaming. Dr. Stipp saw the bathroom light on, but didn’t notice the toilet room light on. If Reeva was simply in the toilet with the door shut and locked, doing her toilet business, why wouldn’t she have the light on? I would imagine that small, closed space would be very dark at night. Now, the toilet window is much smaller than the other bathroom windows so it’s possible that the light doesn’t shine through as brightly. Perhaps it was on and Dr. Stipp just didn’t notice. I don’t know. But it would be odd if we find out that the toilet room light was off when the police arrived. Why would she be in that small enclosed space with the door locked and no light on? Was she hiding?

Another thing that’s food for thought… Dr. Stipp heard the female screams and heard the 3:17am shots while the light was on. If these were supposed intruders in Oscar’s home, why would they have turned the bathroom light on? Doesn’t seem likely that intruders would do that. And Oscar specifically stated in his affidavit that he was too afraid to turn the light on at this point.

Another revelation that Dr. Stipp pointed out in court was that the initial screams (the intermingled ones) that he heard from his balcony while the bathroom light was on was close by meaning that it was likely coming from the bathroom. The subsequent male scream heard later of “help, help, help” sounded much further away and off to the left. (that would probably be Oscar’s bedroom balcony.) A clear differentiation in voices and locations.

They adjourn for the day.

Oscar Trial – Day 3, March 5 JOHNSON, LERENA, LOUPIS

OP day 3 pic

Mr. Charl Johnson is back on the stand for cross-examination with Barry Roux. Roux is repeatedly insinuating that the couple is comparing notes and sharing evidence. He points out different circumstances where they used the same words to describe the events of that night. For instance, when they describe the intensity of the fear they heard in the woman’s screams as well as how they describe the pause after the first gunshot, they spoke very similarly about those details. They did not mention these details in their original written statements but are now testifying to them on the stand in similar ways. Mr. Johnson denies that they are comparing testimonies and explains that two people who were right next to each other sharing the experience on that night could very easily describe it the same way.

Their accounts are more detailed now because they have since made detailed notes about that night, on the advice of their advocate. Mr. Johnson states that he and his wife did not make notes together, that he keeps his own notes on his personal laptop. Last night before trial he turned those notes in to a PDF and transferred them to his iPad which is currently located in the witness room. Roux asks him why he kept notes and he states that their advocate said to them a while back that it may be some time before the case goes to trial and it’s important to keep notes in as much detail as possible so they would remember come time for trial.

Roux also wanted to know why Mr. Johnson did not testify immediately after his wife yesterday; why did Mrs. van der Merwe testify in between them. He seemed to be implying that in the time that Mrs. van der Merwe was on the stand, the two of them were in the witness room discussing their statements. Mr. Johnson explains that Mrs. van der Merwe was extremely nervous about giving testimony (which was indeed witnessed when she got on the stand yesterday) and she asked Mr. Nel if she could just testify and get it over with. She wanted to be done with her testimony yesterday and just go home. So he let her testify in front of Mr. Johnson. So Mr. Johnson and his wife were in the witness room together in between testimonies. Roux pushes very hard back at Mr. Johnson basically telling him that he is lying to the court and the judge admonishes Roux for going too far with the witness.

OP day 3 pic 3

Roux then asks Mr. Johnson if he was the one who woke his wife that night by jumping out of bed and he says yes. This is in contradiction to her testimony. She stated that the screams woke her up. Mr. Johnson believed it was him jumping out of bed that woke her up. So there are some inconsistencies there. I’m not sure how important they are but Roux wants to make them important. Understandably, he seems very hell bent on ruining the credibility of these two witnesses who are vital to the timeline of events.

He also questions Mr. Johnson’s credibility on the number of shots he heard. Mr. Johnson’s statement said 5 to 6 shots and Mr. Johnson agrees that is what he thought at the time. Roux believes he should have been more accurate since he was out on the balcony at the time he heard the shots.

Now this was a very important piece of testimony that took place today and has several questions swimming in my head. Many look at this point as a win for the defense. I’m not sure yet, I think it needs a lot more dissection. Mr. Johnson states to the court that their call to security was at 3:16am. That call lasted 58 seconds. After the call terminated it would have been 3:17am. He put down the phone and immediately went back to the balcony where he heard the heightened screams and gunshots that followed. Since this portion of the event happened very rapidly, we can probably estimate that the shots may have occurred sometime around 3:17:30am roughly.

Roux presents Mr. Johnson with the fact that Oscar phoned the estate security (Stander) at 3:19:50am (I may be off by a few seconds here). He believes that the timing of this phone call surely indicates that Mr. Johnson heard the cricket bat hitting the door and not the gunshots based on the fact that according to Oscar’s initial bail statement, he called Stander AFTER bashing in the door and pulling Reeva out. That would explain why Burger & Johnson heard silence afterwards. This would be the time that he is pulling Reeva out of the bathroom and getting the phone to call Stander. But Mr. Johnson again states he is positive that what he heard were gunshots.

So let’s look back at Oscar’s statement of what occurred after the shots. Something is off here for me. If Johnson and Burger did in fact hear gunshots at that exact moment (which they have a security phone record to back up the timeline and seem to be credible witnesses) then Oscar had approximately two minutes, maybe less, to do a number of things before calling Stander. There are two possible scenarios. Either Burger and Johnson are wrong about the gunshots or Oscar is not being truthful about how the events unfolded that night. This is what Oscar states had occurred after the gunshots and prior to calling Stander (remember he has about 2 minutes to do all this):

• He yelled to Reeva to call the police but she was not responding so he ran to the bedroom (still on stumps) and realized Reeva was not in bed. (NOTE: it’s supposedly pitch black in the bedroom. He needs to find his way to the bed and check if she is in it because according to his story he previously couldn’t see anything in that bedroom.)

• All of a sudden he realizes that maybe it was her in the bathroom.

• He returns to the bathroom, tries to open the toilet door but it’s locked (he is still on stumps).

• He went back to the bedroom (still on stumps), opened the balcony door (which means he’d also have to open the blinds and curtains first since he previously stated he closed them), exited on to the balcony, and then yelled for help.

• When he comes back inside, he puts on his prosthetic legs.

• He ran back to the bathroom tried to kick the door open which didn’t work.

• He ran back to the bedroom again to grab his cricket bat.

• Then he ran back to the bathroom and bashed part of the toilet door in.

• He then found the bathroom key on the toilet floor, unlocked the door and pulled Reeva through it out in to the bathroom.


Here is the bedroom/bathroom layout again:

A plan of Oscar Pistorius's house. Graphic: Paddy Allen, Finbarr Sheehy, Paul Scruton, David Smith

The screams that Burger and Johnson heard were fairly consistent in the few minutes that they heard them prior to the gunshots. They occurred immediately before the gunshots and throughout the gunshots. If Roux wants us to believe that it was the cricket bat that they heard, that would mean that Oscar was screaming so loudly that he sounded like a girl all the way up until he finished bashing the bathroom door in with the cricket bat. In Oscar’s statement above, he mentioned yelling to Reeva right after the gunshots and yelling on the balcony. That is all. He was running back and forth between rooms supposedly trying to figure out who was in the toilet and trying to get her out once he knew it was Reeva. The reported screaming still doesn’t match up with what Roux is suggesting.

Then continuing on with Oscar’s original bail statement, he then went downstairs and unlocked the front door, ran back upstairs to get Reeva and while he was carrying her back down the stairs, Stander and a doctor from the neighborhood arrived. How could they have arrived so quickly? With his legs now on, I would imagine that 2 trips up and down the stairs would not have taken him that long. How far away was Stander from Oscar’s home when he called him? It is possible that he was very close by. I’m just thinking out loud.

I am anxious to hear Stander testify so we can tighten up this timeline of events.

In conclusion for Mr. Johnson, Roux would like to see Johnson’s notes from his iPad so they adjourn briefly to obtain them. When they come back from break we find out that they are having a problem locating them but Nel tells the court that they will get them and make sure the defense has a copy. Johnson is excused for the time being. I’m guessing we’ll see him again tomorrow.

Next witness up is Kevin Lerena. He will be testifying in regards to count # 2, which is one of the additional gun-related charges in this case that is not directly related to the killing of Reeva. Mr. Lerena is a professional boxer. He met Oscar through his sponsor, the Daytona Group. Oscar and he proceeded to spend some time together. Oscar was helping Kevin to get in shape for an upcoming fight.

On January 11, 2013, Mr. Lerena was out to dinner with Oscar and two other gentlemen, Darren Fresco and Martin Rooney. They were at Tasha’s Restaurant in Johannesburg. They just had some soft drinks, no alcohol was served, and Mr. Lerena had ordered a pasta dinner for himself. All of a sudden there was a gun being passed underneath their table. It was passed from Mr. Fresco over to Oscar. Mr. Fresco then said “I’m one up” (meaning there was one bullet in the chamber.) Then the gun went off. There was complete silence in the restaurant. Mr. Lerena noticed a hole in the ground right next to his foot. He also noticed some gray stuff on his toes, and there was blood on his toe as well. But he was not shot and suspects that the blood and dust was probably from debris hitting him.

Oscar very quickly apologized to everyone and asked if everyone was ok several times. He said he didn’t know how the gun went off. Before anyone came to the table, Oscar asked Mr. Fresco to please just take the rap for him (paraphrasing). He did not want to deal with any media attention about this. The restaurant owner came over and Mr. Fresco took the blame. Mr. Lerena was in shock so he doesn’t remember exactly what Mr. Fresco said to the owner. They paid their bill and they left, and they never spoke about it again.

On February 16, 2013, two days after the shooting of Reeva and also after Mr. Lerena’s boxing match, he woke up to 100 messages on his phone. People from all over the world wanted to interview him about an incident the month prior where Oscar shot him in the leg. He came forth to the police and corrected the story, that he was not shot in the leg and explained the incident further. Nel has no further questions for him. It is Roux’s turn to cross-examine but he is not ready for this witness. Apparently they did not know that the witness would be taking the stand today. Roux asks for extra time over lunch to prepare and the Judge obliges.

After lunch, Roux suggests to Mr. Lerena that the restaurant was very loud that day and Mr. Lerena agrees that it was. So loud that it’s possible that Oscar did not hear Mr. Fresco tell him that he was “one up”. Mr. Lerena responds that he cannot confirm what Oscar did or did not hear, he would have to ask him directly. Roux wants to confirm though that Oscar was very surprised by the shot, and Mr. Lerena agrees that yes he was very surprised by the gun going off and was very apologetic to everybody about it.

Roux goes on to explain that Oscar wanted to see the gun because he was interested in buying a similar one for himself. He did not know that the gun was loaded and was angry with Mr. Fresco for giving him a loaded gun. He supposedly said “what if somebody got hurt”. Mr. Lerena cannot confirm that conversation, he did not hear that. Roux also states that it was Mr. Fresco who actually suggested to Oscar that he should take the blame for him after Oscar uttered something to the effect of “what will happen if this gets out”. So Roux is proposing that Mr. Fresco suggested he take the blame, and not that Oscar asked him to. Mr. Lerena cannot confirm this conversation between the two. He did not hear the specifics of their exchange. He did hear Mr. Fresco take the blame and heard him say something about the gun accidently getting hooked on his pants or something like that to the restaurant owner. Mr. Lerena is then excused.

Next witness is Jason Loupis. He is the owner of Tasha’s Restaurant. He confirmed that the four gentlemen were in his restaurant on January 11, 2013. He has met Oscar on a few previous occasions. That day in their restaurant it was a very busy day around lunch time. They were full so there would have been about 220 people in the restaurant at the time. He heard a loud bang. Thought it could have been a gun but was hoping it was something else, maybe a balloon popping. He went inside to investigate toward the direction of the noise. He asked the guys at the table what happened. Mr. Fresco said “Sorry Jason, my gun fell out of my track suit pants.” He asked them if they were being serious because this is not a joke. He was concerned that somebody could have gotten hurt. He walked around to make sure everybody was ok and it looked like everybody was. The restaurant had gone quiet so he wanted to put everybody back at ease. He went outside and told his wife what happened and she went in to speak to them at the table. Shortly after they paid their bill and apologized and left.

Roux cross-examines. When the gentlemen were leaving, they all apologized and Oscar paid the bill. Roux states that Oscar said to Mr. Loupis that he would pay for the damage and Mr. Loupis said don’t worry about it. Mr. Loupis does not recall this exchange. He is then excused.

Next witness is Maria Loupis. She is the wife of Jason Loupis and also an owner of Tasha’s Restaurant. On January 11, 2013, she was at the outside seating area of the restaurant when her husband came outside and told her that a gun had gone off. She asked him if anybody had spoken to them and he said yes. She then went inside along with a friend to speak to them as well. Of the group, she knew Darren Fresco, Kevin Lerena and Oscar. She asked them what happened. Mr. Fresco spoke with her and told her that the gun had accidentally fallen out of his pants and went off. She proceeded to ask him what is the first rule of owning a gun, shouldn’t it be safety first. She then she hit him over the head. Oscar did not speak or give any explanation, only Mr. Fresco spoke.

Roux then cross-examines. Mrs. Loupis only saw Oscar pay for the bill, she did not hear him apologize or offer to pay for the damage. She did hear the loud sound from the gun when it went off but also stated that at the time she didn’t know it was a gun that she heard. She also states that there was a child sitting in a chair right next to the booth where the gun went off.

No further questions, she is excused and they adjourn for the day.


Michelle Burger is on the stand again today and Barry Roux has pretty much the same line of questioning. He is trying to make it seem like the witness made false assumptions about what she heard that night. He also challenged her on her ability to hear what she heard from so far away, with Reeva being in a closed bathroom. He challenged the prosecution to do a sound test to see if it’s possible to hear the screams that far away. Mrs. Burger points out that new homes have since been built in between them so sound would not carry the same. We have yet to see if the Prosecution has done any sound testing.

Another point of contention between them is that Mrs. Burger states that the last scream she heard from the woman was approximately 1 or maybe 2 seconds at the most after the last shot. She can’t say exactly when it was but it was immediately after the last shot and then faded off. Roux read a portion of the official statement detailing Reeva’s wounds and states that based on her head injury it would be impossible for her to have any cognitive function after the last gunshot therefore it would have been impossible for her to be screaming at that time. Roux and Nel exchange some words about the sequence of shots and when she was shot in the head, which will be argued at a later time in the trial.

Another interesting moment between Mrs. Burger and Roux was when Roux pushed her on why a male would be yelling for help while the woman was also yelling for help, and Mrs. Burger suggests that perhaps it was “mockery” on behalf of the man. She states that Roux will need to pose that question to Oscar, only he can answer that. It was a pretty bold come back and food for thought. Both Mrs. Burger and her husband Mr. Johnson, who testified later in the day, did state that the man’s shout was more subdued than the woman’s.

Mrs. Burger is again questioned about whether or not she knows what a cricket bat sounds like banging on a door. She says no but she is very sure that what she heard was gunshots. After Roux finishes with her, Gerrie Nel asks her how she would try to break down a door with a cricket bat. She says she would hit it then pull the bat backwards and swing at it again to hit, indicating that there would be some lag time in between hits. So then he asks her if in the time frame that she heard shots number 2 thru 4, does it seem feasible that the sound is comparable to somebody swinging a large bat back and forth and she answers no.

Nel concludes by asking her if she properly conveyed her emotions about how traumatic the screams were that night to the investigator when he took her statement and she breaks down in tears and said yes she did. She said her emotion was very raw. Roux asks her one last time if she saw her husband’s statement while she was speaking with detective Van Aardt and she says no. Michelle Burger is then excused.

The next witness up is Estelle van der Merwe. She lives in Silverwood Estates and is a neighbor of Oscar’s. She did not know him, nor had ever met him, but was aware that he lived in the house across the road. Her husband has spoken directly to Oscar in the past.

She is house # 180 at the bottom of the picture.

OP neighborhood

Also, here is an aerial photo of their home. Oscar’s house is circled in red. The van der Mewre home is the blue one across the street to the left (from this view.) The white balcony that is seen in the front of the house on the 2nd floor is their bedroom balcony.

van der mewre blue house across street

Mrs. van der Merwe, her husband and her child were home on the evening of February 13, 2013, and went to bed around 9pm. In the morning hours she was awakened around 1:56am by the loud voice of somebody who sounded like they were in a fight. It was a woman’s voice which lasted for about an hour. Mrs. van der Mewre was irritated by this and had to put a pillow over her head in the hopes of getting some sleep. At one point she did get up to see if she could see anything outside but did not, so she went back to bed.

Below are pictures of the view from their bedroom balcony. The first white home that can be seen on the left is the home of Mr. Nhlengethwa. Oscar’s house is just past that.

van der mewre bedroom balcony

van der mewre bedroom balcony2

Sometime around 3am, she heard 4 banging sounds. After these banging sounds there was total silence. She asked her husband what he thought the sounds were and he said gunshots. Her husband looked out the window but didn’t see anything so went back to bed. Shortly afterwards they heard a commotion so her husband called security. After that call, they heard somebody crying loudly. Mrs. van der Merwe thought it was the lady crying but her husband said it was Oscar crying. She later got up and saw several vehicles, including an ambulance, outside of Oscar’s house.

Her husband called security the next morning to find out what happened. They told him that Oscar had shot his friend.

Mrs. van der Merwe also heard loud shouting voices coming from Oscar’s house on February 21st of this year. She believed it to be the voices of two males.

Roux gets up to cross-examine. He explains to Mrs. van de Merwe that on February 21, 2014, they were conducting tests from Oscar’s house at 2-3am of both a man and a woman screaming to see who could hear it to prepare for trial. He only briefly covers this topic as I don’t think he expected her to testify that she heard those screams a few weeks ago, but she did. Roux tells her that Oscar’s bedroom is on the opposite side of the house that faces their balcony and there’s no way she could have properly heard what she thought she heard.

Of course, it’s possible that Oscar and Reeva could have been arguing in a different part of the house, not just in the bedroom.

He then questions her about the events of February 14, 2013. He asks her what the time frame was between when she last heard the female’s voice and when she heard the 4 shots. She states she can’t remember. She stated that the voice was not consistently shouting/speaking loudly for an entire hour, it was intermittent. She also could not make out what the woman was saying or in which language she was speaking. But she does reiterate that the voice sounded angry.

Roux puts to her that she cannot say that she heard the female’s voice shortly before the shots and she agrees.

It’s possible that the argument has now moved to the bedroom/bathroom area which is on the other side of the house. That may be why she is only hearing the arguing intermittently, because they are moving inside. We know that Reeva was shot in the bathroom so it’s possible that Mrs. van der Merwe may not have heard the final screams before the shots like Burger and Johnson did. Burger and Johnson’s bedroom faced Oscar’s bathroom area whereas the van der Mewre’s bedroom faces the front of his house.

Roux also asks her if after the gunshots she said anything to her husband about the earlier voice that she thought was in an argument. She says that she did not. Roux asks her why and she says because she wasn’t sure where the voice was coming from so she didn’t say anything.

She did not go to check on her son nor did she go outside afterwards to check out what happened. The incident that night frightened her and she didn’t know what to do so they just stayed in the bedroom. She says she was paralyzed with fear.

Nel does a brief reexamination and asks her how she can tell the difference between a man and woman’s voice. She states that a woman’s voice is higher pitched and a man’s voice has more bass.

Nel also asks her at what point did she finally tell her husband about the angry female voice that she heard before the shots. Mrs. van der Mewre states that after she heard that Oscar shot his girlfriend, she told her husband what she heard that night.

Mrs. van der Merwe concludes by saying prior to that night she had never heard a gunshot before and hearing those sounds really startled her. The witness is excused.

The next witness up is Charl Johnson. He is the husband of previous witness Michelle Burger and is an IT Project Manager. In the early morning hours of February 14, 2013, he heard the screams of a woman and was awakened. He lifted his head from his pillow to make sure that he heard what he thought he heard. When he realized they were screams, he jumped out of bed and ran to the balcony. He heard more screaming from the woman who was clearly in distress. At some point he heard the woman scream “help.” He then heard a man’s voice yell “help” three times.

At that point his wife said to her husband that they should call security. He came inside and they called from her cell phone where she already had a security phone number stored. He believed he was speaking to the security for the Silver Stream Estates where they lived. It was his intention to have them radio over to the Silverwood security next door to inform them that somebody was possibly being attacked in their home, possibly a home break. But it turned out that the security number they called was for security at a previous residence they lived in. His wife apparently had never programmed the new security number in to her phone. So they terminated the call.

Mr. Johnson went back to the balcony after that and heard the woman screaming again. At that point the intensity and the fear in her voice escalated and it was clear that she was in danger. He then heard the gun shots. During the session of shots, he heard the lady scream again. Her last scream faded away moments after the last gunshot was fired. He believed he may have heard 5-6 shots and that is what he reported to the police. He now knows that there were only 4 shots. He states he did not count them as they happened, he estimated what he heard. He did notice a small pause after the first shot, but the remaining shots were fired in close succession.

He then returned to the bedroom very alarmed. His wife said to him that she thought that woman’s husband may have just been shot in front of her. She came to that conclusion based on the screaming that they heard before and during the gunfire. He does not recall any other sounds or noises after that. Mr. Johnson and Mrs. Burger sat on their bed for a bit upset by what they had just heard. They didn’t speak much after that and then attempted to sleep a little bit more. He does recall hearing a security vehicle in the distance and assumed that somebody else over in that estate would have contacted security for help.

While laying in bed, Mr. Johnson started thinking about their own security and got up at 4am to measure his doors downstairs, laid back down in bed afterwards and got up at 5am. He got to work early at 6am and researched security doors online for their home. He did ask their front security guard on the way out of the complex that morning if he knew what happened over at Silverwood the night before and was told that they were aware that something had happened but they weren’t exactly certain what it was.

Mr. Johnson called a friend that morning and recited to him the same story that he is reciting in court. His friend said he would ask around to see if he could find out what happened and would call him back. Mr. Johnson then told some co-workers what had happened that evening. Afterwards, he got a call back from his friend who asked him to repeat his story, which he did. The friend then said he was hesitant to spread potential rumors but that he had heard that Oscar Pistorius had accidentally shot his girlfriend. It was difficult for Mr. Johnson to understand the story that was being told to him being that they really thought somebody was being attacked based on what they heard the night before.

After that call, he went back to speak with his co-workers and relayed to them the call he just had. During that time frame, one of the co-workers saw the story on the news. Mr. Johnson then called his wife. He asked her to relay to him what she remembered, which she did. He then told her that he had heard it was Oscar Pistorius involved in the incident with his girlfriend. They were both equally surprised to hear that it was a domestic violence type incident since they really believed it was some type of house break attack based on the screams.

They continued to watch coverage throughout the day and saw some aerial footage of the area on TV. He was surprised to see how close they actually were located to where Oscar Pistorius lived.

Here is an aerial view of Oscar’s home and surrounding estate area.

OP aerial view of home

When he got home after work he went up on to his rooftop so that he could see over the neighbor’s trees, and he was able to see Oscar’s house from there. He took a photo from there to document the distance. He then went on to Google Earth to measure the distance from his home to Oscar’s home.

He also spoke to his neighbor next door to see if he had heard anything the night before. The neighbor stated that they only woke up during the last gunshot. They think they may have missed the other noises because they had a ceiling fan on in their room which created a humming noise.

Nel then moved on to ask him how they came about giving a statement to the police. Mr. Johnson stated that they initially did not want to get involved. He assumed that there would be other neighbors who were much closer to the incident that would testify and they would not be needed. As more information came out in the media, they realized that there were no other witnesses nearby Oscar’s home that were coming forth.

On February 19th, 2013, the day of the bail hearing, Mr. Johnson ran in to one of their neighbors who lived over in Silverwood. He asked her if she had heard anything that night. She stated no but believed it was probably because they have air conditioning and were using it that night which probably flushed out any noises.

Mr. Johnson and his wife then listened to Oscar’s bail proceeding on the radio that day and heard the defense lawyer state that the only scream that came from Oscar’s house that night was from the accused. Mr. Johnson heard something different that night and felt obliged to come forward and tell his version. Because this was such a highly publicized case he and his wife did not want to go straight to the police fearing the publicity. They wanted to be quiet about it. So Mrs. Burger contacted an advocate friend who advised them to make notes of everything they each remembered. This advocate stated that he knows Mr. Nel and would contact him to provide their statements. A few days later the investigating team came to their home to speak with them. A week later, detective Van Aardt came out and they gave official statements that were used for an affidavit.

Court was then adjourned for the day. Mr. Johnson will be back tomorrow for cross-examination.

Oscar Trial – Day 1, March 3 BURGER

Today was the first day that Reeva’s mother, June Steenkamp, came face to face with Oscar Pistorius. She has never met him before and sadly her first time is at the murder trial of her daughter. June has made it publically known that she wants this opportunity to really look him in the eyes and understand what happened that night. Oscar arrived at 9:52am and enters the court having to walk past the family members. June is the blonde woman, second from the right. He does not return her glances.

Oscar Pistorius

Oscar takes some time to speak with his lawyer, Barry Roux, before the proceedings.

OP Barry Roux & OP

The trial proceedings will be in English, but some of the witnesses would like to speak in their native Afrikaans, therefore they have appointed an interpreter to assist during the proceedings. At the start of the day, the appointed interpreter arrives and sees the frenzy of media that is covering the case and basically freaks out. So they need to get that situation under control first.

In the meantime, a woman by the name of Annemarie, who is the ex-wife of the surgeon who amputated Oscar’s legs as a child, interrupts the court with her insistence that Oscar be checked out mentally as he may have acted out due to problems from a head injury. This is not the first time that Annemarie has interrupted their court hearings insisting that he be examined. She is promptly escorted out.

The first day of a trial is always interesting to say the least. Once they ironed out all of the issues, the trial started two hours late. (Side note: they get to take two tea breaks in addition to lunch break during the trial day. We really need to start having tea breaks in America.)

The charges against Oscar are read and he enters his pleas. He pleads not guilty to murder. He also pleads not guilty to other gun related charges that have been added on to this trial. The gun charges are unrelated to the death of Reeva, but they help the prosecution paint a picture of Oscar being a gun-crazed man. In one incident, he allegedly fired a gun in to a restaurant. In another incident he allegedly shot a gun out of the sunroof of a car. From what I have come to understand, this is standard practice in South Africa to pile on multiple charges for multiple incidents. This would not happen in American courts where each offense would need to be tried separately.

Now typically in American courts the trial would start with formal opening statements from each side, the Prosecution going first. That does not happen here. Kenny Oldwage for the Defense entered their explanation first. Then Gerrie Nel outlines briefly some of the details of the Prosecution’s case second and presents some evidence to be catalogued. It was all somewhat brief and informal.

The first witness up is Michelle Burger. She is a lecturer at the University of Pretoria. Her house borders the Silverwood Estates where Oscar lived. She is about 170 meters away in a community called the Silver Stream Estates. The Burger’s bedroom window faces the back side of Oscar’s home (where the bathroom windows are located) and their window was open that night due to it being very hot and not having air conditioning.

This picture shows Oscar’s house on the right and the Silver Stream Estates on the left. The red box depicts the section that Mrs. Burger and her husband live in. She described their home as being in the front row, closest to the border of Silverwood Estates. Their bedroom is located up on the 2nd floor. In the middle of the night, with windows open and no fans, it does seem likely to me that they would be able to hear loud noises coming from that direction.

silver stream estates

On the night of February 13, 2013, she and her husband were home and went to bed between 9pm and 10pm. Both she and her husband were awakened at 3am by the sound of a woman screaming very loudly. Her husband went to the balcony while she stayed sitting up in bed. The woman was screaming for help. And then they heard a man’s voice also scream for help 3 times. Mrs. Burger called her husband back inside and had him call security from her cell phone which was next to their bed. He spoke with two different guards who informed him that they did not cover security in the neighboring community so they hung up. Her husband then went back to the balcony while she still remained in bed and the woman’s screaming was now getting progressively worse. She described it as blood-curdling, like somebody who was in fear for her life. After hearing the woman’s escalated screams they then heard 4 shots. There was a noticeable pause after the first shot and then 3 additional shots rang out. There was some screaming throughout the duration of the shots, but it became quiet after that. They did not hear anything else. The husband came back in from the balcony. Their assumption was that a woman and a man were being attacked by someone who broke in to their home. Mrs. Burger even made the statement to her husband that she hoped the woman wasn’t witnessing her husband being shot in front of her.

She and her husband eventually went back to bed and then got up and went to work the next day. She called a friend to tell them about the events from the previous night. She also talked to a few co-workers about what they witnessed. Her husband called her in the afternoon to ask her if she remembered what happened. She replied yes, she did remember. He then told her that Oscar Pistorius was on the news and was saying that he mistakenly shot somebody he thought was an intruder. The husband immediately thought that wasn’t right because it didn’t match what they had heard. They eventually hired an attorney because they wanted to handle the matter privately and go to the police privately considering the intense media coverage. Apparently it was a few weeks after the event when they gave their statement and some have viewed that as suspicious.

Barry Roux then cross-examines Mrs. Burger and tries to paint the picture that from the very start of this event, the Burgers considered Oscar to be a liar. And also accuses her of comparing stories with her husband to get their testimony straight before going to the police. Michelle was pretty solid on the stand after several hours and stuck to her testimony. Stated that she is only testifying to what she heard, she had no pre-conceived notions about Oscar, they did not know Oscar, and she is only stating what she heard and what she heard does not match Oscar’s story. She also reiterates that she and her husband are each individually giving their own statements. He will have his opportunity to testify in court just as she is. Their stories do not match word for word. They are each giving their own accounts of what they heard/witnessed that night.

Roux suggests to Mrs. Burger that the screaming she heard could have been Oscar’s high-pitched screaming that made him sound like a woman, and that in fact it was not a woman at all. She was very adamant back to him that she clearly heard two different voices initially screaming. One was a man and one was a woman. She did not waiver on that at all. She said the sound of the woman’s screams was extremely traumatic and was different than the man’s utterances of help three times. She has no doubt in her mind that it was a woman.

Barry Roux also suggested that the 4 gunshots that she heard could have actually been the cricket bat hitting the door. He needs to find a way to explain why the Burgers heard a woman screaming prior to the gunshot sounds. According to Oscar, Reeva never responded to him that night. There was no fight between them that night and he blindly shot at what he thought was an intruder. So a woman screaming is a big problem for his defense. Roux is trying to convince this witness that she and her husband slept through the initial gunshots, and that the screams that woke them were those of Oscar’s and the other loud sounds were the cricket bat. But the witness stuck to her story all day regardless of the relentless questioning and never waivered to what Barry Roux was suggesting.

Roux pushes on… If Mrs. Burger is so sure that she clearly heard gunshots and screams, why did she not also hear the cricket bat banging on the door afterwards? Her explanation is that she is too far away to hear that. She is also too far away to hear regular talking. Now this will come down to some scientific testing, I would think. It seems that high pitched screaming and gun shots would have a different sound wave capability than wood hitting on wood. But that’s just my own speculation. I’m sure the Prosecution will address this. Mrs. Burger again was clear that she did not hear a cricket bat banging on wood after the gunshots. She only heard screams and then 4 gunshots and that’s all.

Roux next criticizes her for going back to bed after such a traumatic event. She states that she was indeed very upset that night by what she had heard. She didn’t immediately go to sleep, but at some point she did fall asleep again. She states that she can sleep during difficult times. She recalls how her sister just recently lost her baby and she was able to sleep that night. It’s not impossible for her to sleep when upset.

Next, Roux suggested that she was being more dramatic about the event in court than she was in her original statement to Van Aardt (the detective who took her statement). She stated that she very clearly expressed her emotions of that night to Van Aardt and he wrote what he wrote. Apparently he did not include “blood-curdling” in his description so Roux wants to make it sound like she is overly stating the sounds of the screams that were heard that night now that she is on the stand.

They adjourn for the day and she will be back on the stand tomorrow.