Pistorius trial adjourns until May, state mauls forensic expert

Thu Apr 17, 2014 11:12am EDT
 
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By Siyabonga Sishi

PRETORIA (Reuters) - The murder trial of Olympic and Paralympic sprinter Oscar Pistorius was adjourned on Thursday until May 5 after the state wrapped up three days of punishing cross-examination of a forensic expert brought by the defense.

Judge Thokozile Masipa granted the state's request for a postponement to avoid conflicts with other cases. Prosecutor Gerrie Nel - nicknamed "The Pitbull" for his aggressive style - tore into defense witness Roger Dixon, questioning his credibility and expertise.

Pistorius, 27, is on trial for the murder of girlfriend Reeva Steenkamp, whom he shot dead with four rounds from a 9mm pistol on Valentine's Day last year in his plush Pretoria house.

The track star insists he killed the 29-year-old law graduate and model after mistaking her for an intruder hiding in the toilet.

Dixon, a forensic geologist and former police officer, testified that Steenkamp was standing at an angle to the door with her arm out in front of her, suggesting she was reaching for the handle, when Pistorius shot her dead.

The testimony challenged the version of the state, which has sought to portray Pistorius as a gun-obsessed hot-head who murdered Steenkamp after an argument.

But Nel heaped scorn on Dixon's expertise, prompting Masipa to tell the advocate to restrain himself.

When the geologist said on Wednesday he tested the sound of a cricket bat hitting a wooden door to see if it could be confused with the sound of a gunshot, Nel asked:   Continued...

 
South African Olympic and Paralympic athlete Oscar Pistorius sits in the dock during his murder trial in the North Gauteng High Court in Pretoria April 17, 2014. REUTERS/Themba Hadebe/Pool