4 March 2014

South Africa: Pistorius Witness Stands Her Ground

The first witness in the Oscar Pistorius murder trial testified Monday to hearing "blood-curdling" screams from a woman before she heard four gunshots ... ( Resource: Pistorius Trial: Witness Heard Screams, Then Shots

Pretoria — The first witness in the Oscar Pistorius murder trial endured intensive cross-examination on Tuesday over what she said she heard the night Reeva Steenkamp was killed.

Michelle Burger listened intently as the grey-haired Barry Roux SC, his jaw jutting, waved his spectacles as he pedantically sought to pick apart her witness statement and testimony from Monday.

She told the court she heard screams and shots from the direction of the Silver Woods Country Estate in Pretoria, where it later emerged that Pistorius had killed his girlfriend while she was in a toilet.

Pistorius has pleaded not guilty, saying he shot Steenkamp by accident, thinking there was an intruder.

Burger, wearing a black tailored jacket and pink shirt trimmed with a white collar, spoke in English and with no sign of the halting Afrikaans interpreter she had on Monday.

At times, Burger pushed wisps of her long fair hair over her ears, nodding vigorously to repeat a point.

Occasionally, she paused when seeming exasperated at having to repeat a question that Roux had framed differently.

In response to Roux's repeated circling over the sequence of the screams and shots she said she heard, she said she had been in bed and "did not have a notebook at the time".

Pistorius held a silver pen to his temple and listened intently to her recounting of screams she said she heard over the night air from her bedroom at the neighbouring Silverstreams Estate.

Roux said he would prove that it was not possible for her to have heard what she did.

He said Steenkamp had been behind a door in a locked toilet cubicle "almost 200m" away. He said the scene would be reconstructed for her, to prove this.

Burger, a construction economics university lecturer, said the area had changed considerably since the fatal shooting.

At the time, there was a small flat roofed structure between the two estates, they lived near a nature reserve, the area was quiet, and they did not use air conditioning.

Now, there was construction taking place on that piece of land.

The trial broke for tea.

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