Reeva Steenkamp was in a standing position when she was hit with the first of four hollow-point bullets shot by Oscar Pistorius, a ballistics expert testified this week.
Capt. Christiaan Mangena was hit in the hip with that first bullet and fell back inside the toilet cubicle she was standing in as Pistorius shot through the closed door. She was then shot in the right arm and head; one of the bullets ricocheted off the wall behind her, causing bruising on her back. The final bullet went through her left hand before hitting her in the skull, meaning she was holding her arms up to protect herself.
Oscar Pistorius, who has gotten physically ill in previous weeks during parts of the trial where photographs were introduced, reportedly put his fingers in his ears during Capt. Mangena's testimony so that he couldn't hear what he had to say. The former Olympic athlete is charged with premeditated murder and faces life in prison if convicted, but he stands by his claim that he thought Steenkamp was an intruder in the middle of the night. He says he woke up, heard a noise coming from an adjacent bathroom, and retrieved his gun without checking to see if Steenkamp was still in bed.
However, neighbors say they heard loud screaming before the gunshots were fired, as though the couple was having a fight. Neighbor Charl Johnson said it was clear to him that a woman's life was in danger from the screams.
“That’s when the first shots were fired. I remember hearing a succession of shots,” Johnson said. “I heard the lady scream again and the last scream faded moments after the last shot was fired.”
Pistorius has never made it a secret that he keeps weapons in his home and has said that he needed them to feel safe at his home in South Africa, where crime rates are high. The Paralympian made history at the 2012 Olympics, where he was the first double-amputee to compete in the games.
Image via Wikimedia Commons