9 May 2014

South Africa: Pistorius Sells Home Where He Shot Girlfriend Dead

PRETORIA — Oscar Pistorius has sold the upmarket Pretoria home where he shot dead his girlfriend, as legal fees mounted from his lengthy murder trial that continued Friday.

The Paralympian's estate agent Ansie Louw told AFP she now had a buyer for the $480,000-plus house.

"We went through all the offers. We have accepted one of the bids and the transfer process is now under way."

The house was put on the market earlier this year as the "Blade Runner" star sprinter struggled to pay a small army of lawyers who are fighting the murder charges on his behalf.

Oscar Pistorius

They include three of South Africa's leading defence attorneys, a raft of ballistics and forensic experts and a US crime scene reconstruction company.

The total cost is estimated at $9,000 a day. His trial, initially slated to last three weeks, is now in its third month.

On Friday the defence team attempted to show that police investigators got the order of shots wrong, and that the shooting of Reeva Steenkamp through the door of the toilet was an accident as Pistorius claims.

Ballistics expert Wollie Wolmarans said Steenkamp was close to the toilet door and leaning slightly forward when the first of four "rapid" gunshots hit her hip.

The next bullets hit her arm and hand, and the final bullet hit her head as she was falling backward.

The expert testimony bolsters the defence claim that Steenkamp was reaching for the toilet door handle when she was shot by Pistorius, not cowering in fear.

Pistorius claims he shot his 29-year-old girlfriend by accident, believing her to be an intruder in his Pretoria home.

- 'Anything is possible' -

In cross examination state prosecutor Gerrie Nel attempted to show that a reconstruction of the crime scene by Wolmarans was impossible, arguing Steenkamp was shot in the head in a seated position by the toilet bowl.

Nel said the model and law graduate could not have been shot and fallen backwards, hitting her back on the wood magazine rack, as the defence describes in its reconstruction of early Valentine's Day morning last year.

"If your reconstruction is considered, she would never have ended up on the right hand side of the toilet, with her head on the toilet," said Nel.

"My lady, I disagree, anything could have happened in that toilet," said Wolmarans.

"Anything in this world is possible but the court would be more interested if an expert deals with the possibility of what happened," Nel retorted.

Mounting a red laser beam in the courtroom to demonstrate the trajectory of one of the four bullets the Paralympic gold medallist fired at Steenkamp, Nel tried to demonstrate that the only plausible way she could have sustained a wound to her back was if a bullet ricocheted off the toilet wall.

But Wolmarans said the state presented just one of many paths the bullet could have taken if it deflected after going through the toilet door.

"The only point I'm making is there are also other possibilities if there was a deflection," he said.

The state's version, that Steenkamp fell into a seated position on the magazine rack, "doesn't make sense to me," said Wolmarans.

Pistorius began the day in good spirits, cracking a rare smile in court as he greeted Wolmarans, an ex-policeman with over 30 years' experience in ballistics.

Yet as Wolmarans testified on graphic details about Steenkamp's death, the world famous athlete bent his head in the dock, shielding his eyes with his hand from photos of the bloody crime scene shown on the court television monitors.

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