The judge in the murder trial of Oscar Pistorius ruled on Wednesday that proceedings will adjourn for more than two weeks after Thursday and resume again on May 5.
Judge Thokozile Masipa said that she was responding to a request for a break from the chief prosecutor and which was supported by the defence. Pistorius’ trial started March 3 and Masipa said the case had lasted longer than expected. She said she granted the break because a member for the prosecution team has to attend to another case.
Masipa also noted that the court record for the Pistorius trial is now almost 2,000 pages long. The trial was initially scheduled to last just three weeks.
“At the time, it was not envisioned that this trial would run this long,” Masipa said.
Masipa also noted that much of the evidence is “technical” and given by expert witnesses.
Chief defence lawyer Barry Roux has said he will call between 14 and 17 witnesses and predicted he would finish presenting evidence by mid-May. Forensic expert Roger Dixon, the third witness called by the defence, was testifying on Wednesday, the 24th day of the trial. He followed Pistorius, who was cross-examined by prosecutor Gerrie Nel for five days.
Pistorius is charged with premeditated murder for shooting girlfriend Reeva Steenkamp in his home last year. He says he shot her by mistake; the prosecution says he killed her intentionally after an argument.
In his testimony, Dixon, a former policeman, contradicted previous opinions given by a police expert and a pathologist on details of the wounds suffered by Steenkamp when she was shot through the toilet door by the double-amputee athlete.
Police Capt. Christiaan Mangena said Steenkamp was shot in the hip first, the second shot missed, and then the last two shots hit the model in the arm and head. Dixon disagreed with that order and testified the first two shots hit Steenkamp in the hip and arm in quick succession while she was close to the door, apparently backing Pistorius’ version that he shot in quick succession fearing an intruder was coming out the toilet cubicle to attack him.
Dixon also testified that Steenkamp’s right arm may have been stretched out toward the handle of the door, suggesting she may have been in the process of opening the door. The defence was using the testimony to try to cast doubt on the prosecution’s case that Steenkamp was hiding from Pistorius after a late-night fight and had locked herself in the cubicle to seek refuge.
Nel questioned whether Dixon was qualified to analyse the circumstances of Steenkamp’s death.