Pretoria - She had no pulse. Her pupils were dilated and there was brain tissue mingled with blood in her hair.
Next to her on the floor knelt a highly emotional Oscar Pistorius, who kept crying out to God: “Please don’t let her die. Please let her live.”
He promised he would give his life to God if she survived.
Bowing down in the dock on Thursday, with his head clenched between his hands, a distressed Pistorius listened to one of his neighbours describe to the High Court in Pretoria what he witnessed on arrival at his home on February 14 last year.
Pistorius is accused of murdering his model girlfriend Reeva Steenkamp. He is also charged with illegal possession of a firearm and ammunition, and two counts of discharging a firearm in public.
He has pleaded not guilty to premeditated murder.
Radiologist Dr Johan Stephanus Stipp testified how, shortly after hearing shots, then a woman’s distressed screams, followed by more shots, he rushed to a house in the Silverwoods Country Estate.
At the time he had no idea it was the home of Pistorius. He stopped outside a house where he saw a woman standing in the doorway.
He asked if he could help, and the woman directed him towards the bottom of the stairs, where Steenkamp lay on the floor, with Pistorius kneeling by her side.
“First thing he said was ‘I shot her! I thought she was a burglar. I shot her’,” Stipp told the court.
As he said this, a pale Pistorius sat sobbing more intensely in his hands, with his shoulders shaking with each sob.
He clutched a handkerchief tightly in his hands as Stipp recounted how Pistorius held Steenkamp’s bloodied head upright as he tried to open her airways.
Stipp said he also tried to establish whether there was any sign of life.
“There was no pulse in her neck. There was no sign of life. I opened her right eyelid. Her pupil was fixed and dilated. The cornea was milky. It was obvious she was mortally wounded,” he said.
He first saw a wound on her right thigh, one on her upper arm, then he saw blood, mingled with brain tissue, in her hair, emanating from the shot to her head.
At this point, Pistorius sat with his hands covering his ears.
Asked by advocate Barry Roux SC to describe Pistorius’s emotional state, Stipp said: “He was kneeling down and crying. He was praying and talking to God. He was telling God to please let her live. ‘Don’t take her life’. He was making promises to God.”
Roux asked: “You use words in your statement: He was beside himself?”
Stipp said: “Yes. He was trying to help her. He was trying to assist her. He looked sincere to me – he was crying.”
He had noticed Pistorius going upstairs and asked Johan Stander, a member of the estate security, where the gun was.
“I noticed that Pistorius was very emotional and upset, and I thought he was going to hurt himself. But he came downstairs after a while.”
Earlier that night, Stipp had been sleeping at his house, 72m away, when he and his wife were woken by “three loud bangs”.
Despite his wife urging him not to go outside, Stipp said he had stepped out onto the balcony to investigate.
“When I was outside on the balcony, I heard a woman scream. She sounded fearful. Repeated screams, anguished, scared,” he said.
He told his wife to move away for fear that shots could “come our way”.
While calling security and police, he heard more loud bangs.
“That’s when I heard a man’s voice shouting three times – ‘help, help, help’,” he said.
As with other witnesses, Roux put it to Stipp that the screams he had heard were Pistorius’s.
Stipp said: “The sounds were intermingled. If it was him screaming, then he was screaming in two voices.”
Stipp also insisted he had heard gunshots – not a cricket bat bashing against a wooden door.