New theory on bullets that hit Reeva

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wollie AP Ballistics expert Wollie Wolmarans testifies in Oscar Pistorius's murder trial. Photo: Themba Hadebe

Pretoria - A ballistics expert has presented a new theory on the trajectory of the four bullets that caused Reeva Steenkamp's death.

Returning to the stand in the High Court Pretoria on Friday morning was Wollie Wolmarans, a defence ballistics expert with more than four decades of experience.

On Thursday, he began his analysis of the four shots fired by Oscar Pistorius through his toilet cubicle door.

He noted that the first bullet was likely the one that hit Steenkamp in the hip, while the second shot showered splinters and wounded her forearm and chest. He said in his analysis, Steenkamp's forearm was between 6 and 20cm from the door when she was shot, possibly leaning forward slightly.

Wolmarans believed the right arm injury was sustained because Steenkamp had been in a defensive position with her arm raised over her chest.

On Friday morning, he testified on the third and fourth bullets (C and D). These were likely the shots that hit Steenkamp's head. He said if Steenkamp's left hand was against her head, as the State had claimed, there would have been further secondary wounds created after the bullet exited.

The State's ballistic expert, Chris Mangena, said the abrasions on Steenkamp's back could have been caused by bullet fragments, but Wolmarans disagreed.

He said the abrasions must have come from hitting a hard surface, possibly the wooden magazine rack inside the cubicle.

He then described the weight and grain of the bullet fragments found by police at the scene, showing three shards found on the bathroom floor.

Wolmarans said some of the fragments would have lost much of their energy upon hitting the door and wall, falling in the toilet bowl. He said they would not have had the ability to injure Steenkamp.

Wolmarans said that he could not see how the bullet would have ricocheted in a straight line and hit her back, then landed in the toilet bowl. It didn't “make sense”.

He said the core of the Ranger ammunition used would have also been too small to cause any real damage.

Wolmarans theorised that another bullet must have been responsible for the damage to Steenkamp's hand.

He agreed with the State's analysis that Pistorius had fired through the door was correct. He also confirmed Pistorius's claim that he had used a cricket bat to break the door down after the shooting.

The expert then moved onto the sound tests conducted on a door similar to the toilet cubicle door.

Wolmarans then said that while he wasn't a sound expert, he believed that the sounds of a cricket bat hitting the door were strikingly similar to the sounds of gunshots.

He mentioned how during the test, the firearm used had jammed.

During a short break, Mangena began setting up his own laser equipment on the door, which has been erected in court for the majority of the trial. This was to assist in prosecutor Gerrie Nel's cross-examination.

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