Pathologist Gert Saayman was interrupted several times by the
27-year-old Paralympic and Olympic athlete's sobbing and retching
but the defense team argued against an adjournment, saying a break
would not improve his state of mind.
Earlier, Judge Thokozile Masipa imposed a broadcast blackout on
Saayman's testimony out of respect for Steenkamp's family and to
prevent children from accidentally hearing its contents.
"Broadcast would compromise the privacy of the deceased, hurt the
interests of the Steenkamps and be against the morals of society,"
Saayam said when he took the stand to ask for a temporary broadcast
blackout of a trial that has so far been shown in its entirety on
Masipa, who has been presiding over the week-long trial, extended
the ban to live reporting on Twitter.
Pistorius, nicknamed "Bladerunner" for the special prosthetics he
wears in competition, admits he shot 29-year-old Steenkamp, a model
and law graduate, but argues that it was a tragic case of mistaken
identity and that he thought she was an intruder who had broken in
to his luxury Pretoria home.
In his testimony, Saayman confirmed that Steenkamp was hit in the
head, arm and hip by three shots fired through the locked door of a
toilet cubicle. A fourth round fired by Pistorius missed.
Saayman also disclosed Pistorius was using "hollow-point" rounds,
ammunition designed to disintegrate on impact with tissue to cause
Her right upper arm was shattered, the hip wound could well have
been fatal, while that to her head would have incapacitated her
immediately, he added. No blood was found in her airways, suggesting
she breathed only a few times before dying.
[to top of second column]
In between bouts of sobbing and retching, Pistorius sat with his
head bowed, covering his ears with his hands and a white
handkerchief in an attempt to block out Saayman's testimony.
Saayman is the first expert to testify at the trial, which has so
far heard several witnesses who reported hearing a woman screaming
before a volley of shots in the early hours of February 14 — Valentine's Day — at Pistorius' home.
The killing stunned South Africa and the millions of Pistorius
supporters around the world who admired the athlete as a symbol of
triumph over physical adversity.
He had his disabled lower legs amputated as a baby but — running on
carbon fiber prosthetic "blades" — made it to the semi-final of the
400 meters at the London 2012 Olympics competing against able-bodied
If found guilty of murder, he faces at least 25 years behind bars.
(Additional reporting by Lynette Ndabambi,
writing by Ed Cropley; editing by David Dolan and Angus MacSwan)
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