It was a long day of complicated ballistics evidence and testimony in the Oscar Pistorius trial where the accused stands trial for the killing of his girlfriend Reeva Steenkamp. Testimony today centered around the defense team's trump card, a ballistics expert that has earned the respect and a reputation in South Africa that is almost unprecedented, according to CNN. CNN reports that defense witness Tom Wolmarans, former police office and accomplished ballistics expert, refuted what the prosecution has tried to establish thus far in terms of Reeva's last horrifying moments.
Precisely how Reeva died and what happened in those last fatal moments remains unclear, even after testimony today. CTV Toronto reports the ballistics evidence presented today directly contradicts what the state has attempted to establish thus far, and might just be enough for the judge to play the reasonable doubt card.
The prosecution has tried to establish the theory that Reeva had her hands over her head in a defensive position when she died, which would support the theory of premeditation.
Ballistics expert Tom Wolmarans asserted in testimony today that this just was not possible. "The left hand cannot have been against her head" he testified, according to CNN. He further testified that the lack of evidence against Reeva's hand, blood and tissue, was not consistent with her having her hand against her head when she died.
It's important testimony to the defense, as if her hand had been near her head when she died, prosecution is alleging that would mean she was in a defensive position trying to fend off a premeditated murder. With her hand not near her head, the defense is working to suggest that these shots took her by surprise, supporting the intruder theory the defense has offered thus far.
Previously in the trial, the prosecution had presented a police officer as their own ballistics expert as well, to testify in order to support their own theory. CNN reported it as one of the most dramatic moments in the Oscar Pistorius trial to date.
A police officer showed the court what he thought Reeva was doing in the bathroom that evening when the shots were being fired. He demonstrated with his own hands, what Reeva must have been doing with her hands that evening, by putting them over his head and cowering. Essentially what he did was simply act out his own speculations, but it was a moment in trial that left a lasting impression.
The defense today offered compelling evidence that tried to undo that by simply eliminating the hand over the head theory all together. This gives the family of the victim a much different look at Reeva's last moments all together. The testimony had a lasting effecting with the prosecution as well, who did everything he could to discredit it.
Prosecutor Gerrie Nel cross examined the ballistics expert on how many times his story had changed before trial, and who he had consulted with before trial.
The Guardian reports that prior to trial ballistics expert Wolmarans and another defense expert Roger Dixon had beer together on one occasion. Nel put that card on the table and asked Wolmarans if that meeting had anything to do with Wolmarans testimony today. It became a heated exchange between the prosecutor and Wolmarans.
Nel was going to stop at nothing to discredit this renowned expert, right down to making fun of his ability to speak the English language. However, when it came down to what the evidence shows, the prosecution had nothing concrete to offer to discredit the witness other than his own dispute and disagreement of the facts.
What are the ballistics facts of this case? There are four gunshots that are the center of the case that tell the story of Reeva's last moments. The prosecution and the defense each have completely different theories about how those shots rang, and in what order they hit Reeva. They even disagree on how many hit Reeva.
The Oscar Pistorius trial defense has centered around the intruder theory. After spending Valentine's Day with Reeva and going to bed with her, Oscar woke up alone in the middle of the night, and thought he heard something in the bathroom. Having lived in a high crime area for a number of years, he thought it was an intruder, grabbed his gun and fired at the bathroom door four times quickly in a bang, bang, bang, bang manner.
Testimony today revealed that the defense is alleging that those bullets could only go in a very specific order, according to the wood splinters found in one of Reeva's wounds. Wolmarans testified that this happened when she was thrown against the wall, which would have only happened if she was surprised.
HLN TV experts, former defense lawyer Joey Jackson and law enforcement analyst Mike Brooks, reconstructed the testimony to put in laymen's terms what the ballistics evidence presented. According to testimony heard today, the shots went first to her left hip, the second to her right arm, the third to the web of her hand against the wall, and the fourth shot to her head.
The CBC News Toronto reported the expert testimony that provided the defense theory that in the final shot Reeva fell against the wall. According to the CBC, Wolmarans told the court, "She was not sitting yet when the last shot was fired." This testimony is in contradiction from ballistic evidence presented by the State.
Testimony heard from the State earlier in the Oscar Pistorius trial suggested there was a pause between two of those four gunshots. According to that testimony the shots went bang, pause, bang, bang bang. The State alleges that the first shot hit Reeva's left hip, the second shot was a miss, the third was her right upper arm, and the final and fatal shot was in her head. The State is also alleging that the pause in between the first and two shots is the moment of premeditation.
Wolmarans went to great lengths to discredit this ballistics testimony of the State today by reconstructing the bathroom for the courts and even stepping into a cubicle to chronicle Reeva's last moments according to transcripts courtesy of The Guardian. This too left a lasting impression.
The other lasting impression that remains from court today is ambiguity, which can once again be reworded as "reasonable doubt".
If this were a jury trial, the theory that makes the most sense to the jury would be the one that wins. Which theory makes the most sense to you?