Expert: Steenkamp Tried to Shield Herself From Bullets

Ballistics expert explains sequence of events at Oscar Pistorius trial
By Evann Gastaldo,  Newser Staff
Posted Mar 19, 2014 6:30 AM CDT
Updated Mar 19, 2014 7:33 AM CDT

(Newser) – As Reeva Steenkamp lay slumped in Oscar Pistorius' bathroom after being shot, she crossed her arms over her head to protect herself, a police ballistics expert testified at Pistorius' murder trial today. The first bullet hit Steenkamp in the right hip as she stood, facing the closed door, and she fell back onto a magazine holder. The second bullet missed, ricocheting off a wall and shattering, causing bruising on Steenkamp's back. The last two bullets then struck her in the right arm and the head, with one of the bullets first going through her left hand before penetrating her skull, as she held her hands in what the expert called a "defensive position."

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As he testified, Pistorius "put his fingers in his ears in an apparent attempt to block out the testimony," the AP reports. The expert also agreed with Pistorius' story that the athlete was on his stumps when he fired; a prior expert testified that Pistorius remained on his stumps when he broke down the bathroom door. Yesterday, the AP explained why this testimony would be important: If Steenkamp was standing and backed away from the door when she was hit, it could cast doubt on Pistorius' story that she was simply using the bathroom at the time; and the timing of the shots could shed light on whether she had any time to scream—Pistorius says she did not, which is why he didn't know he was shooting at her. The expert did say there was likely a delay between the first shot and the final three, Businessweek reports. (Read more Oscar Pistorius stories.)

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