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Pistorius gunshots were fired rapidly, says expert

A ballistics expert has told the Oscar Pistorius murder trial that his analysis of the scene where the Olympic athlete shot Reeva Steenkamp dead differs from the reconstruction of the shooting by police investigators.

The study of the sequence and trajectory of bullets that hit Ms Steenkamp through a closed toilet door is at the centre of testimony over her body position at the time and how rapidly Pistorius fired the fatal shots with his 9mm pistol.

It also relates to the defence's contention that police investigators made mistakes.

Police say Ms Steenkamp (29) was cowering when she was hit in the head by one of several bullets that struck her.

But Wollie Wolmarans, a former police officer, testified for the defence that he did not believe her left hand was over her head.

The painstaking debate over detail reflects the defence's efforts to show Ms Steenkamp was not arguing with Pistorius after fleeing from him when she was shot in the pre-dawn hours of February 14 last year.

Mr Wolmarans, who was testifying for the second day at Pistorius' trial, said it was his opinion that the four shots were fired in "fast succession", apparently supporting Pistorius' contention that he shot rapidly and in panic after thinking there was an intruder in the cubicle.


The prosecution believes there could have been a gap between the first and the following three shots, arguing that Pistorius (27) fired with deliberate intent to kill. He is charged with premeditated murder.

He says he mistook Ms Steenkamp for an intruder about to come out of the cubicle and attack him. The double-amputee athlete held his hands over his ears when Mr Wolmarans talked about her wounds.

Prosecutor Gerrie Nel argued that Mr Wolmarans' opinion about Ms Steenkamp's position when she suffered some of the gunshot wounds did not make sense. Mr Nel cited the small size of the toilet cubicle and blood and tissue spatter.

Before beginning his cross-examination, Mr Nel invited the judge and her two assessors to take a closer look at a reconstruction of the toilet cubicle that has stood in the courtroom for much of the trial, and where the prosecution had prepared a display yesterday.

The judge was led through the courtroom by a police officer before the force's ballistics expert sprayed a substance into the cubicle. Red laser beams became visible to show possible bullet trajectories.

Judge Thokozile Masipa pointed into the cubicle and appeared to ask Mr Nel a question.

She will deliver a verdict because South Africa does not have trial by jury. Pistorius faces 25 years to life in prison if convicted on the premeditated murder charge.