Oscar Pistorius clasped his head between his hands as lead defence lawyer Barry Roux read out details from the post mortem. REUTERS/Kim Ludbrook/Pool
Oscar Pistorius buried his head in his hands and wiped away
tears after a South African court heard grisly details of the
killing of his girlfriend, the first sign of emotion from the
track star in his two-day murder trial.
The Olympian and Paralympian has been largely impassive
during the trial for the murder of model and law graduate
Reeva Steenkamp in his suburban Pretoria home on Valentine's
Day last year. Pistorius has pled not guilty, saying he shot
Steenkamp through a toilet door after mistaking her for an
He leaned forward in the dock and clasped his head between
his hands as lead defence lawyer Barry Roux read out details
from the post mortem, including that "some fragments of the
bullet" were removed from the 29-year-old's head.
Roux also heaped scorn on the testimony of neighbour Michelle
Burger, who said she heard a scream fade away after the
shots, saying that Steenkamp would have "dropped immediately"
due to a bullet in the head.
Steenkamp was declared dead at the scene after being hit in
the head, arm and hip from three bullets from a 9 mm pistol.
Pistorius, dressed a dark suit and tie, later appeared to
wipe away tears.
The trial, which could see one of global sports' most admired
figures jailed for life, has drawn comparisons with the
high-profile murder trial of American football star and actor
O.J. Simpson two decades ago.
Burger broke toward the end of her own testimony, following
an angry exchange with Roux, who had sought to show she had
mistaken the screams of agitated Pistorius for that of a
The court also heard from another neighbour, Estelle van der
Merwe, who testified that she heard what sounded like an
argument early on the morning Steenkamp was killed.
"From where I was sitting it seemed like two people were
having an argument but I couldn't hear the other person's
voice," she said through an Afrikaans language interpreter.
The judge also warned the media to behave after a local
television station leaked a photo of the state's first
witness, who had asked that her image not be broadcast,
another delay to a trial that has already been hampered by
late starts and problems with court interpreters.
Judge Thokozile Masipa ordered an investigation after
broadcaster eNCA showed a photo of Burger during the audio
broadcast of her second day of emotional testimony.
While the trial is being televised live, a previous court
order had ruled witnesses must give their consent to be
Burger, a university lecturer who testified on Monday that
she heard "bloodcurdling" screams from a woman followed by
gun shots, had not consented to being filmed and only the
audio of her testimony was being broadcast.
The station accompanied the audio feed of her testimony on
Tuesday with a picture of her. After prosecutor Gerrie Nel
pointed out the leak, Masipa called for a brief adjournment.
"I am warning the media, if you do not behave, you are not
going to be treated with soft gloves by this court," Masipa,
herself a former journalist, said when the court resumed.
The station's head of news apologised, saying in a statement
it was a "bad judgement call" to use the photo.
Masipa has also restricted the media from publishing photos
of witnesses who have not consented to be filmed.
A separate South African court ruled last month that the
trial should be televised, saying it was vital for
impoverished South Africans who feel ill-treated by the
justice system to get a first-hand look at the proceedings.
The start of the trial was delayed by 90 minutes on Monday
due to a problem with the Afrikaans language interpreter.
Burger began her testimony in Afrikaans but later switched to
English after disagreeing with the interpreter's translation
of some words.