The prosecutor in the Oscar Pistorius murder trial abruptly asked for a recess to "reexamine our case" today after presenting a grim bullet-by-bullet account of what happened when Pistorius fired through a bathroom door, killing his girlfriend Reeva Steenkamp.
The powerful testimony caused Pistorius to again stick his fingers in his ears as he frequently done during the trial.
The case had been expected to last six weeks and the prosecutor had present the court with a list of 107 potential witnesses. But today prosecutor Gerrie Nel told the High Court in Pretoria that he was about to wrap up his case asked for a recess that would last until Monday.
"We have reached a junction in the trial where the state is wrapping up its evidence," Nel told the court. "We must look at what the defense version forces us to reexamine our case and our witnesses."
Nel told the court that he plans to call only four to five more witnesses.
Pistorius, 27, claims that he thought that Steenkamp was an intruder when he fired through the locked bathroom door early in the morning of Valentine's Day 2013. If convicted of murder he could face at least 25 years in prison.
Earlier today, the court heard from ballistics expert Capt. Chris Mangena that Steenkamp was standing behind the bathroom door when she was shot. He said the first bullet hit her in the hip, shattering her hip bone. The blow knocked her onto a magazine rack in the small room, he said.
The second bullet fired by Pistorius missed Steenkamp, Mangena said, but third round pierced her right arm as she crouched on the floor with her arms crossed in front of her body and her hands covering her head.
The fourth and final bullet Pistorius fired went through one hand covering Steenkamp's head and entered her skull, the officer said. Mangena claimed that this final shot caused Steenkamp’s body to slump to the right, leaving her head resting on top of the toilet seat.
Pistorius bowed his head with his fingers in his ears as the ballistics expert described the wounds.
Mangena also confirmed the defense's version that Pistorius was on his stumps when he fired.
Pistorius, a double amputee, initially said that he felt vulnerable without his prosthetic legs, but police last year insisted that the height of the bullet holes in the door indicated that Pistorius was wearing his prosthetic legs.
Today's testimony also appeared to confirm that the distance between the gun and the door was more than 60 centimeters, which would seem to support Pistorius' version that he had his back to the wall when he pulled the trigger.
A blood spatter expert, Colonel Ian Van Der Nest, testified that he was initially called in to examine the possibility of blunt force trauma to Steenkamp's head. During the initial investigation, there were suggestions that Pistorius hit Steenkamp with a cricket bat before shooting her, but Van Der Nest said he could find no evidence of such an attack. He told the court the trail of blood spots throughout the house was caused by Steenkamp's blood saturated hair and clothes, which would have dripped as Pistorius carried her down the stairs to his front door.
Van Der Nest countered the defense's claim that Steenkamp was sitting down and using the toilet when she was shot. Van Der Nest said the damage to the elastic on her shorts show she was wearing them when the first bullet struck her hip.
The evidence of a third witness called to the stand today indicated that Pistorius was surfing porn on his iPad earlier in the day.
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