Oscar Pistorius: Did he lie about when they ate dinner to conceal an argument

Thursday, May 8, 2014

Good morning:

The Oscar Pistorius trial resumed today in Pretoria after yesterday’s recess for election day.

We are well into the defense case. Defense counsel, Barry Roux, told Judge Masipa today that he will wrap up his case before the end of next week, so we could possibly see final arguments next Thursday or Friday.

Defense began the morning session by calling Professor Christina Lundgren, an anesthetist (we call them anesthesiologists) to counter the testimony of Dr. Gert Saayman, the pathologist who conducted the autopsy. On the basis of Steenkamp’s stomach contents, which contained identifiable items of food, he said she had last eaten within a few hours before her death, probably around 1 am.

Dr. Saayman’s testimony contradicts Oscar Pistorius’s claim that they ate dinner around 7 pm and went to bed by 10 pm. The prosecution’s theory of the case is that Pistorius shot and killed her during an argument after she attempted to get away from him by locking herself in the toilet stall. Prosecutor Gerrie Nel has accused Pistorius of lying about when they ate dinner and went to bed in order to conceal that argument.

I happen to know more than a little about the digestive process because the subject often comes up in murder cases relative to estimating the time of death (i.e., the unknown) based on when the last meal was consumed (i.e., the known). I agree with Dr. Saayman’s opinion. It takes about 6 hours for the stomach to empty.

I have a feeling Dr. Lundgren is in for a rough time when Gerrie Nel cross examines her.

So, pop some corn, get comfortable, watch the proceedings and join us in the comments below.

Session 1

Session 2

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29 Responses to Oscar Pistorius: Did he lie about when they ate dinner to conceal an argument

  1. MKX says:

    Steroids is one, of many, PEDS used by athletes. For example, HGH is very hard to detect. Athletes will often ramp up PEDS usage during the off-season and stay clean during times when testing is probable.

    Also, “roid rage” is somewhat of a myth. Steroids amplify traits that a person already has. So a raging asshole becomes a bigger, faster, more quick tempered raging asshole on ‘roids. And strength athletes often are driven by insecurity they have about themselves.


    This documentary, IMO, does a decent job of objectively addressing the issue of PEDS. I have seen a lot of these characters at the many gyms I have gone to over the years.

    My read on OP is that he very well could meet the profile of a self centered insecure person with rage issued that would, indeed, be amplified by PEDS.

  2. bettykath says:

    Considering his repeated acts of violence, I wonder if he uses steroids. Probably not since he would be tested for some of his races, but still I wonder. Maybe it’s just entitlement rage when he doesn’t get what he wants when he wants it.

  3. fauxmccoy says:

    in addition to keeping up here, i am going back through older testimony that i missed.

    there is one fact and surrounding circumstances that i just cannot wrap my head around which all indicate that OP is obfuscating.

    that is, the locking of the toilet door at 3 am by Reeva. i suppose we could take an informal poll here, but generally when couples reach a certain level of intimacy which can happen quite quickly, locking the bathroom door becomes rather silly. couples often get to the point where they are willing to share bathroom space for many functions, yet still want privacy for others. i cannot ever think of a time when i locked a bathroom door while sharing a residence (even part time) with a partner and surely not when the partner is asleep. this would be wholly unnecessary.

    the only reason in which locking the door makes sense, was if both partners were awake, having an argument and one partner is trying desperately to get away from a bad situation.

    upon reviewing OP’s testimony, he describes hearing a noise in the open bathroom area, grabs his gun and goes toward the noise on his unstable stumps. notice how every other person who testifies to having heard a disturbance, awakes their spouse and then checks on the other family members before taking any other action. i find it impossible to believe that OP does not check with his bed partner to see if she heard any noise. this defies credulity. then, if we follow his story, he is yelling continuously for Reeva to get down and call the police. if that were truly occurring, why would Reeva not say ‘it’s just me, no big deal’. the only logical answer is that she was already in fear of him and doing her best to escape. sadly, her method left her cornered.

    • bettykath says:

      Her method left her safe from a “normal” attack of fists, but cornered when he chose to fire his gun.

  4. Malisha says:

    Also, the presence of the houseman on the FIRST FLOOR would mean that an intruder would likely do violence (if he had any to do) before reaching the master bathroom. And if he HAD no violence to do and was unarmed (having not already shot the houseman) then it is a pretty sure thing that Pistorius was not in danger.

  5. USA Today has an article that summarizes what he said.

    He said that wood splinters embedded in Reeva Steenkamp’s right arm (visible in photographs) likely came from the toilet door as she was reaching for the handle of the door to open it.

    He reached this conclusion because her right arm had to be within 6 to 20 cm of the door when the bullet passed through for the splinters to embed in her skin.

    • Malisha says:

      Of course that could have happened as a different bullet ripped into her body causing her to either flail, contort or be thrown by the force of impact.

      • Malisha says:

        And wouldn’t you think ONE bullet would have been sufficient because after the ONE bullet an intruder would either scream for mercy and identify himself, or slump to the floor dead, or something else of that sort…

  6. Unfortunately, the youtube video stops 15 minutes into Wolmarans testimony after he finishes recounting his credentials and begins to describe what he did when he went to OP’s house for the first time.

  7. The next witness is Wollie Wolmarans, the defense ballistics expert who worked with Roger Dixon in reconstructing the crime scene.

    He will be testifying in support of their theory that OP shot her through the door as she was reaching for the door handle to open it and return to bed. In other words, she did not know OP was on the other side of the door about to shoot her believing she was an intruder.

    This witness is critical for the defense.

    • Malisha says:

      So — forgive me for not knowing this — did he not testify that he called out anything such as: “Who’s there?”

  8. She sounds like she fell in love with him.

    He told her he was sorry about the loss of a loved one, but did not say that he was sorry about what he did. In other words, he never took responsibility for what he did or his role and the decisions that he made to bring it about.

    BTW, it’s unusual and unprofessional for a court probation officer to insert herself into a case as a character witness for the defense. I’ve never seen it happen before.

    Extremely important to maintain some emotional distance in order to retain the ability to be objective. Not supposed to discuss the facts of the case, just information relative to the issues of contacts with the community and community safety.

    She crossed the line.

    • Malisha says:

      It actually reminds me of Jeralyn falling for Fogen. I wonder how she took the news of his dalliance with Schiebe.

  9. Yvette van Schalkwyk is the next defense witness.

    She is a social worker and probation officer who interviewed Pistorius in jail after his arrest.

    She describes him as a heartbroken man who cried 80% of the time when she talked to him.

    She said she contacted the defense on Tuesday because she was upset by media reports suggesting that his grief wasn’t genuine.

  10. Q: Isn’t Dr. Saayman’s opinion that she ate dinner 2 hours before she was killed more probable than yours that she ate dinner 8 hours before she was killed?

    A: My lady, I’m not a forensic pathologist. I’m just saying it’s difficult to do those estimates because there are too many variables.

    Q: Are you aware of any reason to disagree with his opinion?

    A: No, but I’m not a forensic pathologist.

  11. Q: If the deceased ate dinner and became anxious during a long and difficult argument, would that delay gastric emptying?

    A: Yes, it would.

  12. Q: If 10% of a meal would remain in the stomach after 4 hours (established by reference to a textbook) and there were 200 ml of food in her stomach at autopsy, wouldn’t that mean she ate 2 liters of food, if she ate 4 hours earlier?

    (She sees where that’s going and resists going there, but his math is correct and she has to agree).

    A: (After a long pause) That’s a lot of food.

    Q: Yes, it is, isn’t it . . . And if she had eaten 8 hours earlier, then she would have to have eaten 4 liters of food, which is even less probable, am I right?

    Therefore, it’s more probable that she ate around 1 am.

  13. Q: Are you aware of any evidence that would contradict Dr. Saayman’s opinion that Reeva Steenkamp ate dinner at 1 am, 2 hours before she was killed?

    A: No, but I am not a forensic pathologist and I have enormous respect for Dr. Saayman as a pathologist and an academic.

  14. Malisha says:

    Being distraught does not, to my mind, prove anything about whether Pistorius committed first degree murder or accidental manslaughter. He could have been genuinely distraught after committing first-degree murder; he could have been distraught in court and/or in the holding cell during trial either because he committed first-degree murder or because he did NOT; there is no particular “if-then” statement that I could endorse about his distraughtness or lack thereof. Who cares if he is distraught? Should he not rather be thinking of what he could do to make the bereaved family less distraught, than how bad HE feels? It is, after all, no matter what the verdict is, HIS FAULT that this woman is dead.

  15. Gerrie Nel destroyed the defense effort to undermine Dr. Saayman’s testimony that Reeva Steenkamp ate dinner within a couple of hours before she died, probably around 1 am.

    His testimony contradicts Pistorius who testified that they ate dinner at 7 pm and went to bed at 10 pm.

    Dr. Saayman testified that he identified green vegetable matter in the incompletely digested contents of Reeva Steenkamp’s stomach when he conducted the autopsy the next day sometime after 11:45 am when her body was released for the autopsy.

    (Pistorius confirmed that she had eaten vegetables for dinner in a statement he gave 1 year after the shooting).

    Q: Would you not expect the stomach contents to be unrecognizable after 8 hours?

    A: I don’t know. I can’t comment.

    Q” But you can and you did.

    Game, set, match.

    • bettykath says:

      Yes, I don’t think her purpose was to do anything but put doubt in the pathologist’s report. Nel did a good job in getting past the gobbledy gook that could have resulted in confusion.

      This court seems to be aimed at trying to get to the truth, rather than a lawyer’s match of whose is the biggest. There’s probably some competition between the lawyers, but it sure isn’t as flagrant as in the US courts. I think “m’lady” has something to do with it, especially since the judge seems on top of what’s going on and it’s not about her ego either.

  16. Two sides to a story says:

    Latest word on Ramos hearing is: “From what I’m hearing it’s been postponed till June 24 room c15 5th floor.”

  17. Two sides to a story says:

    PS – Cops went all the way to Pasadena YESTERDAY to arrest Inleague reporter and brought him back to Orange County.

  18. Two sides to a story says:

    Update from the left coast: Manuel Ramos immunity hearing in Santa Ana, CA this morning (Kelly Thomas murder by cop). Livestreamers are silent, so they may have gone into courtroom. The Fullerton 10 morphed into Fullerton 11 and gradually to 15. Six undercover Fullerton cops went all the way to Pasadena to arrest InLeague reporter AJ Redkey (#15) for failure to disperse for filming during the January 18 protest in Fullerton, CA – he ran when cops tried to arrest him that evening – definitely harassment considering he was helping coordinate protestors for the hearing this AM. Last I heard, he may have been released from the OC jail earlier this AM. His bail was paid last night.

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