Oscar Trial – Day 35, July 2 VAN ZYL, DERMAN

OP and Arnold

Peet Van Zyl is back on the stand.

Nel asks Van Zyl if he ever traveled overseas with Samantha Taylor and he answers, no he has not. He also wants to know if Van Zyl ever had to arrange for a visa for Samantha. Van Zyl does not recall. Nel states that an email was sent to him (Van Zyl) by Oscar on September 12, 2012, with a copy of Samantha’s passport. He hands him the document for him to review. He still does not recall the email but acknowledges that this is his email address so he must have received it.

The message in that email reads:

“Here is Sam’s passport, please keep it on file. I think we are sorting shit out. Oz”

Nel says, let’s deal with sorting shit out. (love that!) Van Zyl, acting clueless, assumes that they must have had a quarrel and this means they were working it out. Nel makes a great point – if Oscar is writing this to him, then it implies that Van Zyl is aware that they are having issues. There would be no other reason to make that statement unless Van Zyl knew what Oscar was talking about.

That would be like me texting a friend and saying my car will be ready on Monday. Unless I had specifically told that friend that my car needed repair and was in the shop, why the heck would they care or even know what I was referring to.

Van Zyl states that he did not interfere in his clients’ personal lives. He still claims that he was not aware what was going on between them. So Nel wants to know, what was the purpose of him sending the copy of the passport? Van Zyl says that he kept the passport on file for a television production that was happening in the Seychelles later in the year. So obviously he does recall getting this passport. He is clearly being evasive. He admits that he gave all of the information to the TV production company and they were the ones who arranged the flights.

Nel brings up the roommate situation at the Olympics again and refers Van Zyl to an article by David O’Sullivan.

Nel points him to paragraph four of that article. It reads:

“Still I was aware this poster boy for the Paralympic games could have flashes of a darker side. I experienced his anger shortly before the Beijing Paralympic games. Oscar was at the pre-games training camp and phoned me (David O’Sullivan) raging about what he perceived to be an inadequate training kit. His fury at the South African Management caught me by surprise. Oscar knew he couldn’t be ignored and his anger would ensure his demands were met. I hadn’t expected Oscar to be a prima donna.”

Nel asks Van Zyl if he was aware of this. He answers that he was aware of Oscar being upset with the training kit, but doesn’t seem to acknowledge the tantrum that he supposedly had thrown. Once again, he tries to explain that he was not there and the South African Management team on-site was responsible for handling the situation.

For somebody who is a manager, he sure does pass the buck. It is HIS client who I am sure is paying him a hefty commission. Of course he was involved in Oscar’s life and Oscar’s issues. That’s what managers do. His testimony is coming across very insincere.

Nel then reads part of paragraph five:

“He told me he had been forced to move out because Oscar was constantly screaming in anger at people on the phone. I thought he (Arnu Forie) was joking and waited for a smile but he was serious.”

Nel wants to know if Van Zyl ever heard this story? Van Zyl says he received a phone call from Ampie Louw informing him that there was an issue with one of the athletes that Oscar was rooming with and that team management would take care of it. He didn’t take further notice of this.

Van Zyl does want to point out though that Arnu Forie did post a statement on his Twitter page last night (see my post for Day 34) and Nel says, good, I’m glad you mentioned that! That brings up two questions:

1. Did anybody discuss your evidence with you since you left court yesterday?

He answers no, but he did receive emails from some of his friends overseas that follow all of these athletes and they pointed out to him that this statement was on Arnu’s Twitter page.

2. Isn’t it true that Arnu did not deny the phone calls in his statement from last night? Van Zyl has to concede that Arnu did not deny them.

And once again, Oscar thinks this is funny.

OP smirking

Nel then asks Van Zyl if he would be surprised if he told him that Oscar wrote the following letter to Samantha Taylor:

“I invited you to London because I knew that you have had my heart in your hands for months and never once let it go.”

Samantha-Taylor-Oscar-Pistorius-ex-girlfriend_pic

Van Zyl says he was never informed of this as far as he can recall. Nel asks, did you not call Samantha’s mother to try to get them to London? Van Zyl says that he honestly can’t remember trying to get Samantha to the London games.

Nel says this is important because yesterday he was trying to tell the court that Reeva was the first girl that Oscar ever invited to travel with him and yet here we have a letter that proves otherwise.

Nel has him read another letter from Oscar to Samantha:

“That was not fair of you as you have never given me a reason to mistrust you. You have only been everything I could ever want. This is so hard to write because I don’t deserve you, Sam. When I invited you, I was so excited to tell you because I knew we had some hard days behind us. I had asked Peet to do everything he could last week to find you a ticket.”

Nel wants to know if this is not true. Van Zyl again says he honestly can’t remember.

Nel asks, if Oscar asked you to do this, you would remember, right? He hesitantly says, probably, but I cannot recall.

The next paragraph reads:

“I don’t even feel like going to London now that you won’t be there with me. I don’t know how I let it go this far but I will never forgive myself for not looking after your heart that you placed in my hands.”

Ok, seriously? He’s an Olympic athlete and he doesn’t want to go to London now because his girlfriend is not going? This to me illustrates just how immature and insecure he really is.

And still, Van Zyl claims that he can’t remember any of this. That is just not believable at all.

And another paragraph reads:

“It took me a long time to be honest with myself and truly fall in love with you, Sam. At least I know it wasn’t forced. It wasn’t a figment of my imagination.”

Nel is really pushing Van Zyl on why he didn’t know about this invitation to London. Van Zyl just simply keeps repeating that he cannot remember.

Then Van Zyl voluntarily offers up that one time with Oscar’s other ex-girlfriend, Jenna Edkins, they had to arrange for travel so she could do a photo shoot with him in Italy. Nel says you are right.

He reads from the last paragraph:

“I invited Jenna over last year for a week to Gemona but after the night she went out with her friends, I cancelled the trip because I didn’t want to be emotionally vulnerable…”

Van Zyl states that Ms. Edkins did travel with them to Milan for the photo shoot but he doesn’t know anything about this planned trip to Gemona.

22 August 2008 South Africa South African Paralympic runner Oscar Pistorius and his girlfriend Jenna Edkins

On the Sunday after the shooting, Van Zyl visited Oscar at the Brooklyn police cells. Nel mentions that he did a TV interview afterwards and followed it up with a formal statement. Van Zyl agrees. The statement was circulated to a media list and he also posted it on his own website. He then did an interview on a radio station called Ballz on February 18, 2013. Nel wants to know if he can still recall what he said in his interviews and in his statement.

He says he can’t recall everything but believes it was in relation to the sponsorship and endorsement deals that they had to suspend, terminate or cancel, and also that Oscar had to cancel all of his scheduled competitions. Nel asserts, you said more than that. Van Zyl agrees. He publically supported Oscar as a manager and as a friend in his interviews with the media.

Nel asks him if he ever sent condolences to the Steenkamp family. Van Zyl answers that he made mention of them (not sure where) and he sent them flowers. Nel says to him that he had an opportunity to send his condolences to the Steenkamp family while giving interviews and statements but he didn’t. Van Zyl concedes that he did not publically give condolences to them when interviewed on the 17th and 18th. He goes on to say that he was told not to make any contact with the family. The family doesn’t seem too impressed by that.

Steenkamps

Nel asks, what about as a friend of Reeva’s? Why did you not do that? Van Zyl answers that he doesn’t want the court to think that he was a friend of Reeva’s. He met her on a few occasions but he never became friends with any of Oscar’s previous girlfriends.

Nel revisits the story about the flight attendant helping Oscar with his prosthetics. He wants to know what point Van Zyl was trying to make with that story on direct examination. Van Zyl says the point was that Oscar is uncomfortable in public without his prosthetics. Nel says that he has information that once while on holiday, Oscar left his legs on the beach and that was not a problem. Nel says that by him making those statements, he is forcing Nel to “go there” with him. Van Zyl says that he can only testify to the experiences that he shared with Oscar. Nel shows him the photograph of the legs on the beach.

Van Zyl now tries to say that this incident (the shooting) was traumatic for him and he has avoided looking at the media. But Nel pushes back at him that he finds that odd. He was still Oscar’s manager and needed to manage the situation, yet he wants to tell the court that he did not follow what was going on in the media. Van Zyl says he no longer has future contracts to manage so he has no need to follow it now.

Nel asks Van Zyl if he was aware of the pet names that Oscar had for Samantha. Specifically, had he heard the name Little Butterfly? Van Zyl says no, he has not. That prompts more laughter from Oscar in the dock.

All of these things… the love letters, the trips, the pet names… are indicators that Reeva was not the only woman who ever existed in Oscar’s life. This is important because it contradicts what Oscar and his Defense team have been trying to portray – that Reeva was a very special love for Oscar. And he never would have done anything as horrific as killing the love of his life. Who knows, maybe she was the best love of his life. But the fact remains that he has loved before and using “love” to say that no way would he have hurt her is not really sincere. Nel points out to Van Zyl that on numerous occasions Oscar expressed that Samantha Taylor was the one girl for him. Look what he did to her… cheated on her, yelled at her and broke her heart. And in his book, Blade Runner, he refers to Vicky Miles as the love of his life. He admits that their relationship was “fiery”. Clearly women, love, passion and intensity are a theme in his life. All of them have the ability to combust.

Nel next addresses the time when Oscar was left out of the final for the 4 x 4 meter relay. He was very upset by that and he was reportedly kicking chairs at a team meeting. Van Zyl is aware that he was left out of this final in 2011, and that he was unhappy. He was not in any of these meetings; these were again team South Africa meetings. Nel wants to know if he at least heard about it and he agrees that he did hear about it but wasn’t aware of chairs being kicked. But he did know that he was unhappy. Nel wants to know how Oscar expressed his unhappiness. Van Zyl says Oscar was more disheartened than angry, and was almost in tears.

This sounds pretty emotionally unstable to me. I’m not saying the guy can’t have feelings or be upset or sad. I’m just saying that this man is an Olympic athlete. They are trained to handle failure and disappointment. It’s not just a concept to be strong, but they are literally trained to be strong… both physically and mentally. The fact that he crumbles so easily at every difficult moment is a big indicator to me that he has some pretty deep-seeded issues.

Nel has no further questions for Van Zyl.

Roux addresses the Twitter message from Arnu Fourie and has Van Zyl read it out loud. And with that, Van Zyl is excused. It appears that Roux wanted to quickly close the can of worms that he opened with Van Zyl. He couldn’t get out of dodge fast enough.

Now it’s time for a little house-keeping.

Roux hands a photograph up to the court documenting the time that the Netcare ambulance arrived at the Estate on February 14. The time of arrival at the gate was 3:41:50am. He states that since none of the paramedics or ambulance people testified, he wanted to have their arrival time on record via the photograph.

Roux then reads the psychologist report from Oscar’s evaluation, and Nel reads the psychiatrist portion, each focusing on the respective highlights that benefit their teams.

Roux pointing out that Oscar did not display any signs of abnormal aggression, psychopathy or narcissism, and also that he is suffering PTSD and depression and without proper treatment could be suicidal.

Nel points out that Oscar does not have a mental illness, nor does he have Generalized Anxiety Disorder. He had the ability to act appropriately on the night in question. This should squash the Defense’s hope of pinning his actions on exaggerated anxiety.

You can read both reports here on the blog:

https://juror13lw.wordpress.com/2014/07/08/oscar-pistorius-mental-evaluation-documents/

The next witness is Professor Wayne Derman… being questioned by Oldwage. This should be fun.

Derman is a registered medical practitioner with the Health Professionals Counsel of South Africa. He has been registered since 1988. He practices as a sports and exercise medicine physician. Derman reviews his CV details. He gives lectures, co-leads a research program and has published over 100 peer-reviewed papers. He has also authored or co-authored over 25 book chapters.

His areas of specialty are illness or injury in athletes with disability, and neuroscience as it relates to stress response and chronic illness prevention.

He has also written 6 original research papers in international journals on medical aspects of Paralympic athletes and other athletes with impairment or disability. He was an invited speaker at Vista, the Paralympic Medicine and Science World Conference in 2011 and 2013. The topic was the medical challenges of the traveling Paralympic athlete. He was also invited to give a Seminole lecture on stump/socket interface problems in athletes with amputation.

Derman was appointed to the medical commission of the International Paralympic Committee to lead a research team as a medical expert with reference to a longitudinal injury and illness surveillance study. This appointment was to last from 2012 to 2016. Derman then explains what the term longitudinal impairment means. He states that we don’t know what happens to athletes with disability over the course of their career. Things within their body change over time as they compensate with other areas of their bodies, and we don’t know what the long term consequences may be at this point.

Derman also mentions that his thesis for his PhD dealt with aspects of the sympathetic nervous system and its modulations through the ingestion of beta blockers. He has co-authored 4 international publications on the neurophysiology of the stress response.
Derman describes that the body has certain automatic functions; heart rate, breathing, etc. This is driven by the nervous system which has two components: the parasympathetic and the sympathetic. Parasympathetic governs the relaxation response in the body. The sympathetic system regulates your heart rate and blood pressure, and works off of stress hormones that interact with receptors in the body. This system controls a person’s ability to perform.

Derman has also studied the neurophysiology of how the brain governs the sympathetic response.

In addition to his academic work with the International Paralympic Committee, he also has a private practice as a sports and exercise medicine physician. He has done this for the past 20 years in South Africa. He has also completed the necessary training to prepare him for the role of team physician in San Diego, CA, and Orlando, FL, in the United States.

The role of the team physician is to accompany the athletes on any international travel and look after their health during a time of rigor. They are to establish a patient/doctor relationship of trust.

Derman has known Oscar for the last six years providing periodic health assessments, direct observations of him during medical consultations (both formal and informal) as well as his observations of him within the close confines of residing together in a team setting throughout the Beijing and London Paralympics events, and the Christ Church IPC World Championships.

During these events, it was necessary to accompany Oscar and other athletes for significant periods of time. And during this time, he has observed Oscar interacting with fellow athletes, people in positions of authority and members of the public in general, as well as having observed him within the extremely stressful environment of competing at the highest level.

He has also spent a good amount of time with Oscar in the anti-doping control environment which occurs as an automatic process when an athlete has achieved medal status. This process ensures that the athlete has competed free of substances. These tests can last for periods of 2 to 4 hours, and he has observed Oscar during these times.

From these observations, Derman concludes that Oscar is a highly professional, dedicated athlete who is disciplined and focused with reference to his sporting profession. He has always been very vigilant and cautious not to consume any prohibitive substances or derivatives of when being medicated for common illness or when consuming supplements. To his knowledge, he has never tested positive for prohibited substances.

Derman states that he has remained in contact with Oscar even after the events of February 14, 2013.

From a medical perspective, Oscar is prone to respiratory tract infections and is very sensitive to pollutants as he is quite allergic. At times over the years, Oscar’s stumps have proven to be significantly and chronically problematic, in particular the stump/socket problems that have culminated in the peeling of skin leading to secondary infection of soft tissue, irritation and swelling. These problems relate particularly to his left stump.
He then goes in to some of the same areas that Dr. Versveld covered in addressing Oscar’s left stump and the issues with his heel pad.
On one occasion, he was contacted by Oscar over Skype while he was in Belgium. A very distressed Oscar showed him his clearly bleeding stumps. He was attempting to qualify for the London Olympics at the time. He arranged for him to see a physician in London and instructed the team doctor to take special dressings and medications to Berlin, which was the next destination at which he would compete.

Derman makes his own assessment that Oscar is an anxious individual. He has a tremor of the hands and presents with a sleep disorder for which he has previously had to medicate him.

He next focuses his testimony on the Kessler scale. This is a 10 question quiz, also known as the K10. This is a clinical tool that you can rapidly administer to athletes to get an idea, based on their responses, how they are feeling and dealing with the stresses of competition.

Derman had the idea to use the K10 to identify changes in psychological distress; markers of anxiety and markers of depression, and see how the results would change over time from pre-competition to post-competition. He was interested in also applying this to a control group, a group of international level athletes competing at the iron man triathlon, and then he would compare the two.

The conclusions from their study showed that the markers of psychological distress (anxiety and depression) were higher in the athletes with disability compared to the control group who were able-bodied athletes. Also, they found that anxiety and depression changes over the course of a competition. The K10 score is sensitive to pick up these changes.

The following are the K10 questions. The recipient can answer on a scale of 1-5, with 1 being “none of the time” and 5 being “all of the time”:

1. In the past 4 weeks, about how often did you feel tired out for no good reason?
2. In the past 4 weeks, about how often did you feel nervous?
3. In the past 4 weeks, about how often did you feel so nervous that nothing would calm you down?
4. In the past 4 weeks, about how often did you feel hopeless?
5. In the past 4 weeks, about how often did you feel restless or fidgety?
6. In the past 4 weeks, about how often did you feel so restless you could not sit still?
7. In the past 4 weeks, about how often did you feel depressed?
8. In the past 4 weeks, about how often did you feel that everything was an effort?
9. In the past 4 weeks, about how often did you feel so sad that nothing could cheer you up?
10. In the past 4 weeks, about how often did you feel worthless?

Derman next discusses Oscar’s results from previous K10 tests in 2008 and 2011. The scores from the three tests were 28, 24 and 19. These numbers show that his scores have decreased after competition. Oscar’s psychological distress markers are higher than the mean value of scores that he recorded for the entire group of athletes.

I can’t help but think as I sit here watching the Steenkamp family in the gallery, that this is such a load of pathetic psycho-babble. Their daughter is dead because of Oscar and we now have to listen to how sad and stressed out he has been over the years because his job as an elite athlete, that has earned him millions of dollars and notoriety all over the world, is difficult. It’s insulting.

Derman goes on to say that he has observed Oscar being constantly hyper-vigilant, as well as having an exaggerated startle response which involves him covering his head and ears and cowering until the noise ends.

The last time, prior to February 14, 2013, that Derman spoke to Oscar was on February 2, 2013. Oscar phoned him and was suffering from an upper respiratory tract infection and sinusitis. Derman advised him to go to the pharmacy and he called in a prescription. He then asked him how life had settled down after London to which he responded that at the moment he was lying next to the most wonderful girl that he had met. He also told him that he couldn’t wait for him to meet her. Reeva would be taking him to the pharmacy to pick up the prescription. Derman followed up with him on February 10, 2013, to get an update on his wellness and ability to return to fitness training.

OP2

It is Derman’s opinion that the startle response (fight or flight) is heightened in persons with disability. Derman reads from the book, Human Physiology from Cells to Systems, 4th Edition by Laura Lee Sherwood: “The sympathetic system promotes responses that prepare the body for strenuous physical activity in the face of emergency or stressful situations such as a physical threat from the outside environment. This response is typically referred to as a fight or flight response.” Derman explains more fully in layman’s terms what happens to the body under stress.

Derman has witnessed exaggerated fight or flight responses in some individuals, including those with disability. He explains that the brain governs these responses; I suppose suggesting that Oscar had no control over his actions that night.

Derman explains that a “startle” is the stimulus that begins the fight or flight response.

He also discusses a woman that he became acquainted with in September, 2012, at the London Paralympic games. She is a massage therapist who was born with a condition (from her mother ingesting thalidomide during pregnancy) that prevented her arms from developing. She utilizes her feet to perform her massage work. During their meetings, he mentioned to her his involvement with Oscar.

Following London, he remained in contact with her in relation to his academic work. After February 14, 2013, this woman reached out to him via email with the following communication:

“Dear Wayne, I hope that you are well. I’m writing with regard to Oscar. Please excuse me if you have already thought about this. In my dealings with English coaches, etc. of Paralympic sports people, I have become aware that the truth is easily hidden by the young disabled person from themselves and from others in order to get on in life. The acceptance of the brave face is often the easiest option for all concerned in order to achieve results. You may dismiss my concerns for justice, put me in the fan or nut category, but I feel I have to write to you on this matter. As a disabled woman who has over the years come under attack in many different situations, I am amazed at myself and my automatic responses. Having read Oscar fired his gun through a door, I am concerned that people without disability will not understand that the fight or flight response in people with a disability may be more highly developed. I cannot find clinical tests on this to support the statement but have not looked in detail. If Oscar did not know who was behind the door… ”

Nel stands up to object, stating that this is hearsay. He wants to know how this woman’s experience is relevant to this trial. Oldwage counters that this is not hearsay and cites case law to argue his point in a very long and drawn out explanation that I won’t even insult your intelligence with by summarizing.

Oldwage

Nel argues that these statements are from a non-witness that we cannot cross-examine; that is hearsay. He also points out that if the purpose of this evidence is to supplement the Professor’s findings as Oldwage asserts, then it would have to be something that is considered truth. However, the Professor will not rely on the email as truth; it is merely one woman’s own experience and is not relevant to Oscar’s experience, therefore the court should not allow it as truth.

Nel

Judge Masipa breaks for lunch to decide if she will allow the evidence.

Upon return, the Judge determines that the evidence is not relevant and it will not be admissible. The portion of the email that was already read in to the record will be expunged from the record.

Derman continues with the next part of his report. He goes on to say that adults with disability are at a higher risk for violent attacks against them compared to adults without disability. He reads off crime statistics from 2009-2012 to back up this statement.

Derman states: “It is of concern that since the advent of the Paralympic games in London in 2012, an event that was intended to raise positive awareness of disability, attacks on individuals with disability have increased. In fact, the recent survey shows that nearly 1 in 4 disabled individuals living in London have suffered some form of hostile or threatening behavior, or have been physically assaulted since the Paralympics.”

Oldwage asks Derman his opinion on why these aggressions have increased and Derman says it’s hard to say, but one of the logos that was used at the Paralympics was “We are the Superhumans” and perhaps people now want to put themselves up against the superhumans.

Ok, seriously? That is the most ridiculous thing I’ve ever heard. I’m not convinced that Judge Masipa is buying this bologna either.

Masipa

Derman moves on to fight or flight and uses a mother fighting off a polar bear to protect her young children as an example. He relates this to Oscar having confronted perceived danger in very adverse circumstances. Ok, let me see if I have this straight… we have superhumans, polar bears and Oscar imagining that people are in his toilet… sounds like an episode of LOST.

Derman shows an image of the brain to the Judge and points out the important areas that relate to fight or flight – the amygdala structure, the hippocampus and the cerebral cortex. He explains how they all work together. He goes in to a long explanation and points out the amygdala, which ultimately has free reign over fight or flight responses. Research shows that individual differences in the structural integrity of the amygdala (subconscious brain) and pre-frontal (conscious brain) were inversely correlated with trait anxiety. And he lost me after that. The one important thing to note though is that he stated that the more heightened the anxiety, the more the amygdala is uninterrupted in its fight or flight response. But we know now that Oscar doesn’t have an anxiety issue so all of this is really just irrelevant. But nice try, blaming it on his brain function.

He states, “the initial physiological reaction to trigger the amygdala is called the startle, also known as the fear-potentiated startle. This can be elicited in the face of any threatening stimulus. The stimulus is usually auditory, as in a sound, or is visual.” He explains how individuals are tested for different levels of startle response.

Before concluding for the day, Oldwage requests that the psychology report by Scholtz be redacted before being sent out to public domain. The Judge grants this request. They adjourn for the night and Derman will be back on the stand tomorrow.

Oscar Trial – Day 34, July 1 LIN, VAN ZYL

Peet van Zyl

Peet Van Zyl, Oscar’s Manager

Ivan Lin, the acoustic engineer, is back on the stand.

Nel points out to him that the last sentence of his report states that the process that he followed excludes the possibility of a 100% reproduction of the original sound source and the perception of the sound from the listener’s perspective. He used a model and used averages to convey his findings.

Nel wants to know when he completed this report and Lin responds that he just completed it the week prior.

Nel wants to know what materials were used for him to create the scenarios in his report. He says the three possible sound sources were in the toilet, in the bathroom and on the balcony. He studied the actual location of the listeners’ positions, and where their window and door locations were. Nel asks him if he read the record, and Lin responds no. Nel asks him if he understands that there has been a lot of new development since the time of the incident. He is aware of that. He could visually see the changes. He did have assistance from the Defense team while he was there. The Defense provided the scenarios to him.

Nel wants to know if it was ever put to him that at the site that was 177 meters away, the bedroom window was closed. Lin answers, no. Nel asks, nobody told you that the window was wide open? Lin answers, that information was not available to him. He also did not have access to the premises at 177 meters; he only viewed a photograph of it.

Nel is making the point to the court that it was not a complete investigation and he only used the scenarios that were put to him by the Defense. He is making findings and assumptions based off of the version that they want to tell. And all of this was done within the last two weeks prior to court.

Nel puts to him, that if the window at the source which is 177 meters away was open, we can exclude all the portions of his model where he listed the window as closed. He agrees that yes they could do that if the window was indeed open.

Nel wants to know, even though his report states that one can ever say with 100% certainty whether a voice is male or female based on just hearing it, would he concede that more often than not, we are able to differentiate them. Lin says its all perception and perception can’t be completely reliable. He does concede though that it is common sense that we can identify them, just not scientific certainty.

Nel moves on and says that from his report, paragraph 5.9, Lin has identified that the typical human scream is 100-120db. On the State’s version, the deceased screamed because she feared for her life. Nel wants to know, in considering that; wouldn’t he put the db closer to 120 than 110? Lin says that 120db is extremely loud, almost the same as a jet engine taking off. Lin says that it’s a very slight possibility, but it is a possibility. It’s hard for him to say yes or no, just that it’s possible.

Increasing the decibels would affect the charts that are included in his report. We do not see the charts shown in court, but Nel is opening up the possibility for the Judge to consider that things were heard beyond what he has written in his report, especially when you keep in mind that he only based his report on variables that the Defense gave him.

Nel moves on to the sound of the gun being fired. An average db level of a gun being fired is somewhere around 160, according to Nel. Lin can’t say for sure but he will accept that it is significantly higher than the db of the human voice. Nel asks, if there is hypothetically a 20% difference in db between the sound of a human voice and a gun firing, wouldn’t the listener hear those sounds at a 20% difference as well? Lin agrees.
Nel asks, if a woman screams, will there be a certain pitch in her voice? He answers yes; it does have a certain tonal character.

Nel also asks, if a normal background noise is taking place, and then you hear sounds of a woman or man screaming, would the screams be more noticeable because they have a different type of tonal character. Lin agrees, yes.

Nel next references the South African National Standard – The Measurement and Rating of Environmental Noise with Respect to Annoyance and Speech Communication, and says in terms of this standard and dealing with tonal character (voices), you should add 5db. Lin says this is based on continuous noise source and he’s not certain that it’s applicable in this context. He says that typically this is applied to things like a loud machine or loud disco and it’s occurring over a certain amount of time, it’s not necessarily something with tonal character like a voice. A voice is an impulse noise that you cannot average over time. He doesn’t agree with Nel on this point that 5db should be added. Nel says, but this is the standard so in following it, you should have added 5db in your report. It would have made a significant difference in his graph if he had applied it.

Nel shows the court a photograph, which Lin has seen. The red arrow on the photos depicts Oscar’s house as seen from the patio which has direct line of sight. This view is 177 meters away (the Johnson/Burger home)

Burger Johnson patio

Burger Johnson patio2

We next look at the photo which depicts the view from 80 meters away (the Stipp home)

Their balconies

Stipp house

View from the bedroom/balcony looking over to Oscar’s bathroom windows

Stipp bedroom

Nel illustrates that there is direct line of sight through the open balcony door to the back of Oscar’s house.

Nel points out that in Lin’s report, the db levels that were used were the same as you would use for a solid window that is sealed. Again, he is pointing out the fact that you cannot fully rely on the db levels that he has chosen to use for this report as they do not accurately depict the exact variables of that evening.

Nel proceeds to go through the report and from each vantage point, create some doubt about the levels that were used to make findings. And Lin concedes that his levels are not exact. The Judge will have to keep that in mind when considering his report.

Nel wraps up by stating to Lin that four state witnesses all testified that they heard screams, not cries, from a woman. That must be reliable, correct? Lin asks from what distance. Nel says two from 80 meters away and two from 177 meters away. They don’t know each other, nor have they spoken to each other. Lin says he believes that they heard a sound but it’s not up to him to interpret if what they heard was correct. Nel says, but they did hear it. Lin will not make a comment about whether he thinks they were right or not.

Nel next looks at a page from Lin’s report and addresses the source at 80 meters away. He says that if the source of the sound was in the toilet and the listener was standing on the balcony, the sound would be audible and intelligible. With intelligible he does not exclude the capability to distinguish between male and female voices. Lin explains that intelligible means that it describes the level at which something can be understood but it involves human interpretation.

So it brings us back to four witnesses using their interpretation that what they heard that night were female screams and then both a male and female voice shouting at the same time. If the Judge finds these witnesses credible, there is no reason for her to not believe that what they interpreted was accurate, especially considering that all of their accounts match.

Nel gets Lin to concede that the ranges in his report are what is possible from a scientific perspective, but do not rule out all other possibilities, and with that he nor anybody else can tell the court that the witnesses were lying or are wrong about what they heard.

Nel concludes and Roux does a very brief re-examination to point out to the court that the new homes that were built in the community do not affect the calculations that Lin used for his findings.

Lin is excused.

The next witness is Peet Van Zyl.

Van Zyl is Oscar’s manager/agent, also known as an athlete representative. He met him in 2004, and they have worked together since 2006.

Their business relationship entails him securing competitions, negotiating and acquiring sponsorships and managing financial affairs. They had daily contact while he was fulfilling this role.

Through all of the interaction that he has had with Oscar over the years, it was evident to him that Oscar had a heightened sense of awareness. He would often drive excessively fast to the airport because he wanted to make sure that they weren’t followed. Whenever he had to park somewhere public, he always parked in an open space with easy access and good lighting. He did this as an extra security measure.

Roux also has him recount a few specific times where Oscar reacted in a panicky manor. In 2011, they were at an event in New York. While walking down the street there was a loud bang noise which scared Oscar and in response, he grabbed Van Zyl’s arm. Van Zyl found it odd for a grown man to grab his arm.

Also, while abroad and in hotel rooms, Oscar would be very cautious about who was at his door. He would always have the extra security latches on the door fastened.

All of this is pretty silly, in my opinion. I always use the extra security latches on my hotel door and would also probably grab somebody’s arm if I were startled. Granted, I am female, but it’s not the craziest thing in the world to have a physical reaction when startled. (And for the record, shooting 4 shots through a door is not an acceptable physical reaction when startled) Those are pretty basic responses, not what I would consider to be excessively paranoid. The Defense is really reaching here.

They next focus on how Van Zyl and Oscar would often meet at Oscar’s house to discuss schedules and contracts. He could never keep Oscar focused for long as he was frequently fidgeting and asking his house assistant (Frank) where the dogs were, if the doors were locked, etc.

At restaurants and coffee houses, he always wanted a clear view of the entrance/exit of the establishment.

Typically when flying, he would always keep his prosthetics on. There was one instance where he had bad blisters on his stumps and he removed his stumps during the flight. He used a blanket to cover his legs. He fell asleep during the flight and one of his legs fell over in to the aisle. The flight attendant picked up the leg to put it back in place. Oscar became startled and jumped up, grabbed it out of her hands and was trying to avoid anybody seeing that he had prosthetics.

My interpretation of this is not that it was a startle. It sounds to me like an insecure man who had the ability to be rude when somebody did something that he didn’t like. I think Van Zyl is just trying to use this example as a poor Oscar gets scared sometimes scenario, but in actuality it sounds like he acted like a jerk towards the flight attendant who was just trying to help him.

Roux asks how long in total time he spent with Oscar. Van Zyl says that they would be together throughout the whole athletics season (May – August). Their training base was in Italy. They also traveled to competitions and events.

Roux wants to know if he displayed any aggression during these times. He can only recall two incidents were Oscar lost his temper. He would not consider it aggression. Van Zyl says that he personally lost his temper more than Oscar did, usually because of abusive questioning from the media. One occasion was when they landed in Barcelona for a competition. As they arrived, a camera crew stuck a camera in his face and called him a cheat because he wanted to compete against able-bodied athletes. Both Oscar and Van Zyl lost their temper in that instance.

Next was in London. Oscar had an interview scheduled at the BBC. They were there at the studio and a journalist asked the question, don’t you think you’re an embarrassment to your country for trying to compete at the Olympic games? Again, both lost their temper and were asked to leave the studio.

Van Zyl did have the chance to meet Reeva on a number of occasions at different venues. He viewed their relationship as loving and caring. They were always calling each other pet names. Oscar did involve her in his career.

Van Zyl states that he and Oscar had a meeting at Oscar’s house on February 7, 2013. They laid out all of his contracts and calendar for the year on his large dining room table and they were planning his season. They started with a big event in Moscow and then worked backwards from there, looking at specific dates. They identified an event in Brazil on March 31st and another in Manchester on May 25th where he wanted to invite Reeva to come along. He asked Van Zyl to contact the organizers to get permission. Van Zyl states that this is the first time that Oscar has ever asked him for anything like that. He’s never asked in the past for his girlfriends to come on any trips with him.

Van Zyl asked Oscar why he wanted to bring her. Oscar’s response was that he wanted Reeva to see what his world was about and the pressure that he was under. He wanted her to see how he needs to perform and also why he sometimes can’t go to functions with her; because he needs to have enough sleep to train and perform at the levels he’s required to perform at. Also, he wanted her to understand that there may be certain events that he cannot go to with her due to his own sponsor commitments. Since his diet was so strict, there were often times that he had to decline going out to restaurants.

Well, thanks Peet, for solidifying that Oscar Pistorius is every bit as selfish as Nel has asserted during this trial. Not once did he say that he wanted to bring her with him on these trips because he loved her and wanted to share his time with her. It was all about him needing her to understand HIS life.

If you want to read a narrative on how Oscar’s career and contracts may have played a role in the incident on February 14th, I would suggest reading Resurrection and Revelations by Nick van der Leek. He is a photojournalist and editor of the South African Man website who has written some really thought-provoking e-books about the trial, Oscar, Reeva and society in general. There are actually four books in total, with the fifth one coming out this week. You can find them on Amazon.

http://www.africanman.co.za/

Next, Roux turns in some documents that were provided by Van Zyl. The first is an email between Van Zyl and Andy Cain, who is the meeting director of the Manchester event. This communication took place at 7:29pm on February 13, 2013. The night of the incident, right around the time that Oscar claims he and Reeva were having dinner at the large dining room table and discussing HER contracts. Van Zyl was finalizing the terms and conditions for Oscar competing at this event. The terms that still needed to be clarified were the request for an additional business class flight for Reeva to join Oscar on this trip.

OP head down

Van Zyl states that he wants to add that there was also a contract in place for Oscar to compete in Brazil. He says that Reeva’s ticket for this event had already been secured but he then goes on to say that they had secured tickets for five people in total which would consist of Oscar, Ampie Louw, Van Zyl, the physiotherapist and Reeva.

He is trying to make it sound like Reeva agreed to these trips, implying that she was committed to Oscar and wanted to be with him. But it’s possible that he had five tickets for Manchester without any specific names on them just yet. Had Reeva really agreed to go with him and put her own life and career on hold? Maybe she did, maybe she didn’t. We can only speculate. It’s feasible that this was the source of Oscar and Reeva’s issue that night, particularly in light of the fact that Van Zyl was emailing the Manchester director only a few short hours before Oscar killed Reeva. Is that a coincidence?

Roux asks Van Zyl what the financial position was of Oscar at that time. Van Zyl responds that due to Oscar’s outstanding performances at the London Olympic and Paralympic games, his profile was raised to global sports icon status. Based on this, he had a number of opportunities to partner with corporations. The financial implications were substantial; five to six times more than what it was prior to the Olympics. He had contracts in place that would run until the end of 2017, when he would announce his retirement from athletics. Some current sponsors were negotiating with him for brand ambassador roles post-retirement as well. The contracts that he had involved significant monetary gain, as well as the opportunity for shares and royalties. Roux asks Van Zyl if Oscar was aware of the bright financial future he had ahead of him and Van Zyl says yes, he was well aware. He is an astute businessman who understood what he was about to gain.

Roux then brings up another event that Oscar wanted to share with Reeva; an Andrea Bocelli concert in Tuscany, Italy, on July 13th. Van Zyl was the one who made the suggestion to Oscar to take her to that, and Oscar was excited about the idea. He asked Van Zyl to look in to it.

Roux wants to know if Van Zyl ever discussed these plans with Reeva directly and he says yes he did. Oscar phoned Reeva on his iPhone to do a video call, and passed the phone to Van Zyl. Van Zyl told her the good news about Brazil and that he was working on another trip to Manchester. He states that she was excited about the possibility of traveling to these competitions with them. Is it possible that she was being polite at the time but perhaps had a change of heart later?

Roux concludes and Nel is up to cross-examine.

Nel starts by saying that he was not expecting so much character evidence to be presented today so he needs a little more time to prepare. But he will get in as much as possible for the remainder of the day.

Nel confirms with Van Zyl that one of his main duties is to look after his client. He has to deal with negative media and press as part of his job, as well as look after his well-being in general.

Nel wants to address the fact that Oscar drives at high speeds and wants to know how Van Zyl was aware that he was doing that. Van Zyl squirms a little on this but finally states that it was another athlete that used to drive with him who told him about his driving habits. Plus, Van Zyl witnessed this himself when they drove together to the airport. Nel asks him if he ever discussed this habit with Oscar. He says that he did not and Nel wants to know why. Van Zyl says that the time that he drove fast with him, he was not driving recklessly. He had not received complaints per se so he didn’t address it.

I understand where Nel is going with this. It is a manager’s duty to make sure their lucrative client is behaving properly and safely, especially in light of the amount of money they stood to gain. He absolutely should have been counseling Oscar about his poor and unsafe behavior. But if in fact he did not, then it’s just a further example of how the people in his life enabled him.

Oscar annoyed

Nel next addresses how Van Zyl testified that there were only two times when Oscar lost his temper. He wants to know if Van Zyl forgot about the time when Oscar lost a race and called his competitor a cheat. Van Zyl says he did not forget about that but he was not in London during that time. He is aware of the situation, but didn’t include it in his testimony because he only spoke about times that he witnessed himself.

Regardless, Nel wants to know if he addressed this with Oscar. Van Zyl says, yes, there was a PR company that he used while in London for the games. He delegated this situation to them and they handled it. Van Zyl then goes in to an explanation of how this competitor had switched his legs for various events and there was a general feeling amongst the athletes that he was cheating. Oscar took it up with the IPC and requested better guidelines on what is allowed and not allowed. Van Zyl seemingly makes an excuse here saying that the incident was a long time in the making. Sounds like major sour grapes to me. Van Zyl does concede that Oscar lost his temper on that day as well.

Nel wants to know if Van Zyl ever met Oscar’s other girlfriends. He states yes, he had met Jenna Edkins and Samantha Taylor. Nel states that they’ll have to make a correction to Van Zyl’s testimony because Oscar did take Samantha overseas with him. Van Zyl says not for competition, it was for a television program. Oscar worked out the details with the production company directly.

Oscar and Samantha in the Seychelles

Van Zyl says the relationship between he and Oscar is one of a professional nature, but he was indeed introduced to these three women as his girlfriends. As to what Oscar does in his private life, he wasn’t always aware of. Personally, I find it highly odd and not really believable that he was supposedly so distanced from Oscar’s personal life. Nel wants to know if he ever discussed any details about his relationship with Samantha Taylor. Van Zyl says no, he did not discuss the relationship with him.

It’s always interesting to me when there are difficult topics being discussed, or topics that Oscar is likely lying about; Oscar keeps his head down and won’t make eye contact with anybody.

Van Zyl says that all he knew was that Samantha was his girlfriend. Oscar never asked Van Zyl to arrange for her to accompany him on trips or attend events.

Nel says there was an incident that he read about where Oscar’s roommate asked to be put in a different room. Does he know anything about this? Van Zyl says that he was made aware of it by the team management. Nel says that the reason the roommate wanted to move out was because Oscar was constantly arguing on the phone and he couldn’t take it anymore, according to what he read.

Van Zyl says he can’t comment on that because he wasn’t there. Van Zyl is clearly trying to dodge this question, while Oscar continues to hang his head down, and Nel says to him that he is asking him directly… did he know why this athlete wanted to change rooms. Van Zyl says that if this man made the statement that it was due to Oscar being on the phone, then I guess we’ll have to accept that. Nel tells him that he doesn’t have to accept anything; he just has to answer questions. Let’s try this again… why did the man want to leave the room, based on what he heard? Van Zyl said it was because of problems he had with Oscar. Nel asks, what problems? He answers that he doesn’t have specifics. Nel hammers him some more and Van Zyl finally answers that it was because Oscar was on the phone.

Nel says, now I’m worried. I specifically asked you this question 3 or 4 questions ago, and you didn’t know, but now you want to give an answer. Oscar is fidgeting pretty well in the dock and passing notes to his team.

Oscar passing notes

OP look after note

Nel asks him if it’s difficult for him to say negative things about Oscar. He answers, no. He again tries to explain it away by saying that he wasn’t there at the time and it was dealt with. The only person who contacted him afterwards was Ampie Louw, Oscar’s coach, who informed him that they had moved Oscar to a different room. It was only put to Van Zyl that there were issues with this athlete. Nothing more specific. Nel phrases the question differently; have you heard this version about the athlete being upset because of Oscar being constantly on the phone? He then says no, he has not heard that specific version which actually contradicts what he just said two minutes ago. It’s obvious he’s being evasive.

Nel moves on to February 14, 2013. He wants to know if Van Zyl discussed the incident with Oscar. He says he only discussed his condolences with him. He goes on to state that he has not discussed the specifics of the incident at all with him. He has not asked him what happened. How is that possible? He has been his manager and friend for 8 years. I do not find that believable.

Nel asks if he is familiar with Oscar’s love for guns. Van Zyl says he only learned of it recently. The first time he ever saw Oscar carrying a gun was in November of 2012. He was not aware that he was taking part in shooting activities at the range. When he did see the gun that time, it was at his residence, and he asked Oscar why he was carrying a gun. Oscar told him it was because he feared for his own safety.

Nel wants to know if Van Zyl ever read an article from a British journalist who said that Oscar would go out at night to the range to practice shooting if he couldn’t sleep. Van Zyl says that he did read this article. Nel wants to know if he discussed this with Oscar. Van Zyl said he didn’t. Nel asks him if the article was positive or negative. Van Zyl says he didn’t see it as negative. Nel points out that in that same article is a picture of the 9mm in Oscar’s bedroom.

Nel wants to know if Van Zyl believed that Oscar was paranoid. He cannot call it paranoia or vigilance; he doesn’t feel qualified to make that judgement.

Nel says he’s jumping around a bit, but will be better prepared tomorrow. He moves on to Samantha Taylor and wants to know if Van Zyl was aware that he didn’t treat her very well. Van Zyl says that he never experienced him treating her badly. Oscar was always kind and courteous. And furthermore, he’s never seen Oscar treat any other person in an aggressive or undignified way.

Nel says he has carefully noted Oscar’s calculated reasons for wanting to take Reeva to Manchester. He points out how it is all about Oscar. Oscar got a good laugh out of that.

Oscar laughing

Oscar laughing2

Van Zyl felt it was really a case of Oscar wanting to show his girlfriend what the world of a professional athlete is about. He goes on to say that most of his other top athletes do the same thing.

Nel asks Van Zyl about Oscar wanting to take Samantha to the Olympics with him. He answers that he was never asked at any stage about taking her specifically. There were friends and family members that he did organize tickets for but not for Samantha.

Nel asks for an early adjournment and the Judge grants it so he can prepare for further cross-examination tomorrow.

After the completion of trial today, Arnu Fourie, the athlete in London who requested to move rooms, posted a tweet explaining why he made that request. This account does not match up with what he originally told to the reporter at the time. We know that Van Zyl testified today that there were issues, but those issues are not mentioned anywhere in Arnu’s statement. Is Arnu telling the truth or not?

http://ewn.co.za/2014/07/02/Oscar-Pistorius-Arnu-Fourie-releases-statement