Expert continues to draw fire from Nel

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oscar may 8 SAPA Oscar Pistorius sits in the dock during his murder trial at the high court in Pretoria on Thursday. Picture: Werner Beukes

Pretoria - A defence ballistics expert in the murder trial of Oscar Pistorius has been under fire on the stand on Friday afternoon, as the state prepares to wrap up the expert's cross-examination.

Wollie Wolmarans was called to the stand to provide his analysis on the four bullets fired by Pistorius at Reeva Steenkamp.

Prosecutor Gerrie Nel asked about the differences in firing if Pistorius had cocked his gun prior to the shooting.

Wolmarans said there would be lighter trigger pressure.

Nel then said that Pistorius had only indicated he had just switched off the safety before opening fire.

This meant the trigger would have to be pulled harder to fire. Wolmarans confirmed the trigger would have to have been fully pulled four times for all four shots to go off.

The expert was then questioned about the possible ricochet point on the bathroom wall.

He said that while one bullet could have directly hit that point, the state had not considered the deflection angles for the other bullets.

Wolmarans also indicated that the first bullet may have ultimately had an upwards trajectory, but Nel said this was impossible and the only feasible explanation would have to be that Pistorius was moving forward while shooting.

But Wolmarans clarified he'd seen bullet trajectories that started off downwards and deflected upwards.

He said that he had tried to use laser equipment to show that the other bullets could have also hit the wall. But unlike state forensic expert, chris Mangena, he was unable to make an exact fit at the second bullet hole. Wolmarans did say he was wary the door was not in the exact position after it had been replaced as the night of the shooting.

Nel then put it to Wolmarans that Mangena had found a possible deflection angle of about three degrees. The prosecutor said that Wolmarans had agreed with this. Nel then argued that to be congruous with Wolmarans' findings, a much larger deflection angle would have to be present.

Wolmarans was also unable to say what deflection angle would be required for the first, third and fourth bullets to have hit the bathroom wall.

Earlier in the day, Wolmarans was asked if he'd put any ballistics reports together prior to the one he submitted in April. He said he had at least one, but later admitted it was a mistake not to print his original findings out. He also told the court that there was a sound report regarding the gunshots and cricket bat involved in the case, but that he wouldn't be able to testify on it because he is not a sound expert.

Earlier, Wolmarans said that the sound of a cricket bat hitting a door sounded similar to that of gunshots. The defence has previously argued that the gun shot sounds heard by Pistorius' neighbours could have been the bat.

Nel then asked about whether Wolmarans had asked Pistorius about the ammunition he had used. The expert said he had not, but had received information on it and performed his analysis on the bullets through internet research.

Wolmarans believed the ammunition used was called Ranger, but Mangena was convinced it was another type known as Black Talon.

Yesterday, Wolmarans told the court that he used witness boards to determine the kind of splinter fragmentation that would come from the door when it was shot through. He used these to determine the distance Steenkamp was from the cubicle door, as he managed to match the fragmentation of the splinters to the wounds on Steenkamp's arm.

Nel implied the splinters could have dispersed further, meaning the defence's claims that she could be further away from the door than the defence's claims she was less than 20cm away.

Wolmarans said that another expert could come to a different conclusion, and everything that happened behind the door was simply speculation.

The trial continues on Monday.

The Star



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