State prosecutor Gerrie Nel looks on during the fourth day of the trial of Oscar Puistorius. Picture: MARCO LONGARI

Pretoria - Does the State have an ace up its sleeve?

According to prosecutor Gerrie Nel, the four shots fired at 3.17 on the morning of February 14 last year were the shots that killed Reeva Steenkamp.

The screams, which witnesses heard before these “shots” were fired, were those of Steenkamp, Nel said.

But the defence says the “shots” which three State witnesses have said were fired at 3.17 were the sounds of Oscar Pistorius banging down the toilet door with a cricket bat.

In the defence’s version, Pistorius, after discovering that it was Steenkamp behind the closed toilet door, and not a burglar, broke down the door with a cricket bat.

“This was done at precisely 3.17,” his advocate, Barry Roux SC, told the court.

The witnesses thus mistook the “woman screaming” to be Steenkamp, because she was dead by that time.

“It was in fact Pistorius screaming,” Roux argued.

When distressed, Pistorius’s screams sounded like those of a woman.

The confusion surrounding the two sets of “shots” arose on Thursday afternoon during the cross-examination of State witness, Dr Johan Stipp, who said he was woken up by a volley of shots, then he heard a woman’s distressed screams, followed by more shots.

But Roux said he mistook the second round of “shots” for gunshots, while it was in fact Pistorius breaking down the door. Stipp, who later tried to revive Steenkamp, said her wounds were fatal.

Roux told him that it could thus not have been her who screamed after the first round of shots, because she was dead by then.

Nel objected and said that was the case of the defence and not that of the State.

“We can’t take it as a fact that the first shots killed the deceased. He (Roux) can say that is the defence’s case, but that is not our case.”

An apparently confused Roux said there were only four shots fired and that meant it could not have been Steenkamp screaming afterwards.

Nel, who again jumped up, said: “It is the State’s case that the deceased screamed. Our case will become clear later.

“I say the shots fired at 3.17 caused her death. She was screaming before the shots fired at 3.17. We will (later) come to the total of shots fired, but our case is that the shots fired at 3.17 killed her.

“We are not saying there were more than four shots, but for now we say it was these shots which killed her. Nothing else,” Nel said.

Roux said the State could not now rely on two sets of shots, as there were not two sets of shots.