After 17-Day Hiatus, Pistorius Trial Restarts
Neighbor takes stand for defense
By Matt Cantor, Newser User
Posted May 5, 2014 6:42 AM CDT
Oscar Pistorius right, is comforted by his brother, Carl Pistorius, inside court in Pretoria, South Africa, Monday, May 5, 2014.   (AP Photo/Ihsaan Haffejee, Pool)

(Newser) – Witnesses for the defense are again taking the stand after a 17-day break in Oscar Pistorius' murder trial. Pointing to scheduling conflicts, prosecutor Gerrie Nel called for the break; judge Thokozile Masipa supported the idea given the lengthy trial, NBC News reports. It was originally supposed to take just three weeks. What's next for the trial, in what the AP calls "a critical phase":

  • Defense lawyer Barry Roux has said he'll call witnesses to testify that Pistorius, when stressed, screams like a woman, Eyewitness News reports. That's important because neighbors said they heard male and female voices shouting before gunshots rang out; the defense is arguing that the screams were all Pistorius'. An ex-girlfriend, however, testified that he "screams like a man"—a sound she was quite familiar with, given that he screamed at her often.

  • The first person to testify today, neighbor Johan Stander, says Pistorius "was broken" after he shot girlfriend Reeva Steenkamp, the BBC reports. Stander was the first call Pistorius made after the shooting; he quoted Pistorius as saying, "I shot Reeva. I thought she was an intruder. Please come quick." "I saw the truth that morning and I feel it," Stander said. "He was desperate to save her (and) prayed to God."
  • The defense may call up to 17 witnesses. One, a psychologist, is expected to testify regarding Pistorius' sense of vulnerability. Despite questions over contradictory statements from Pistorius, he should be found not guilty if his team can show that Steenkamp's death was a mistake, experts tell the AP. The new testimony follows a columnist's allegation that Pistorius took acting classes to prepare for the trial.

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