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Pistorius trial: Court hears autopsy testimony

Pistorius Said 'Everything Is Fine' After Shooting: Guard


PRETORIA, South Africa (AP) -- The judge in the murder trial of Oscar Pistorius on Monday banned live broadcasting and tweeting of the graphic testimony of the expert who conducted the autopsy on Reeva Steenkamp, who was fatally shot by her athlete boyfriend.

The court heard arguments about whether to allow audio and video broadcasting of the testimony of Prof. Gert Saayman, head of the forensic medicine department at the University of Pretoria.

Judge Thokozile Masipa announced the ban after prosecutor Gerrie Nel, supported by chief defense lawyer Barry Roux, said Saayman's testimony would have an "explicitly graphic nature" and should not be shown around the world.

"It's not a question of press freedom," Nel said.

Before beginning his testimony, Saayman said the "very personal nature" of his autopsy findings as well as graphic details about the injuries could "compromise the dignity of the deceased," as well as harm her friends and family, if they are broadcast.

"It goes against the good morals of society for us to make information of this nature available" in a way that children and other unsuspecting people might be exposed, Saayman said in the witness box.

Proceedings can be partly televised and the audio can be broadcast in its entirety under a judge's pre-trial order that sought to balance the right to a fair trial with the intense public interest in the Pistorius case and the principle of open justice. Under the order, some witnesses can choose not to be shown on television.

Earlier Monday, Masipa extended that order, saying "private witnesses are more vulnerable than public figures" and that still photographs of witnesses who requested some discretion cannot be published or disseminated for the duration of the trial, even if they were obtained from sources outside the courtroom.

The new ruling followed the publication in a South African media outlet last week of a photo of a witness whose image was lifted from a publicly accessible website.

Pistorius, the first amputee to run in the Olympics, is charged with premeditated murder for Steenkamp's shooting death. The 27-year-old Pistorius says the killing was accidental because he thought his girlfriend was a dangerous intruder in a toilet cubicle in his home.

Before the adjournment Monday, a security guard who said he spoke with Pistorius soon after the shooting of Steenkamp was questioned by the defense about his recollection of the sequences of the events that night.

The sequence is important for the defense because, if it can prove that Pistorius called security first, it could support the contention that he was seeking help as quickly as possible.

The guard, Pieter Baba, had recalled a conversation with the double-amputee runner, who killed Steenkamp in his home in the early hours of Valentine's Day last year. Baba testified Friday that he called Pistorius and was told "everything is fine" on the telephone. Baba said Pistorius then called him back moments later, didn't speak, was crying and the second call then ended.

Baba said he was responding to neighbors' reports of gunshots coming from Pistorius' home after 3 a.m. on Feb. 14, 2013. He drove with a fellow guard to Pistorius' villa and made the call from outside the house.

Baba's statement that he called Pistorius first could back the prosecution's case that the killing was premeditated, and that Pistorius was trying, at least initially, to conceal what he had done.

On Monday, however, Roux said call records showed Pistorius called security first, but couldn't speak because he was "indeed crying."

"I'm the one who called him first," Baba insisted.

"His call was first and your call was second," countered Roux, saying he had documents, including one from the police, which showed his assertion to be true.

"I put proof in front of you that Mr. Pistorius called first," Roux said. Roux said Pistorius had called before the guards went to his house.

"If Mr. Pistorius called me first, then I would have known that something was wrong at his house," Baba replied, repeating his version.

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MICHAEL March 10 2014 at 10:45 AM

i agree with the judge. there is no reason anyone needs to see or know the details of the autopsy. it goes beyond morbid to want to see and hear things like this and its degrading to the dead.

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1 reply
muffin MICHAEL March 10 2014 at 11:50 AM

Remember they did the same thing with Whitney Houston's autopsy. The public did not have to know all those details.

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bds6543 March 10 2014 at 10:52 AM

This was prob. a "st eroid rage".. He deliberately shot this girl, and it was not an accident for an "intruder". That is sooo bogus. He had already put his legs on. and this was pre-meditated. I'm sure they were in argument, and he flew into a rage.. and she ended up DEAD. No matter, he is guilty and needs to be put in prison.

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richyalf March 10 2014 at 11:17 AM

Take away his blades.

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ps7603 March 10 2014 at 10:38 AM

If you weren't brain dead ... you would look for your wife/girl friend first ... before you started shooting in the bathroom. Even if Pistorius gets 25 years ... he will be out in 1/2 that time and ready to kill again.

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2 replies
MICHAEL ps7603 March 10 2014 at 10:47 AM

that goes without saying. of course you would look first if you lived with someone. he's obviously either not very smart or over the top paranoid.

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niceguyhere46 ps7603 March 10 2014 at 11:50 AM

he is a calulated killer. she probably said she is leaving his ugly ass

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elinor March 10 2014 at 11:41 AM

I WILL NEVER STOP BEING SHOCKED OVER THE NUMBER OF PEOPLE THAT FEED ON WHAT ONE PERSON CAN AND DOES DO TO ANOTHER... AM SHOCKED OVER THE FACT THAT MOST WANT SOMEONE TO BE GUILTY AND WILL JUDGE THEM TO BE SO , EVEN BEFORE THE FACTS ARE OUT.
AND THE OTHER SIDE OF THAT COIN IS THE FACT THAT MANY PEOPLE WOULD NOT, WILL NOT RECOGNIZE THE DECISION OF THE JUDGE OR JURY. BY GOD ! THEY ARE GOING TO CONVICT ONE IN THE COURT OF PIBLIC OPINION, AND TO HECK WITH THE FACTS...JUST ASKING GOD TO GUARD THE JUSTICE SYSTEM , AND LET NO ONE GET BY WITH MURDER OR NO ONE BE CHARGED QUILTY FOR SOMETHING THEY DID NOT DO...................ANYONE WITH ME OUT THERE ?

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ForWhatItIsNow March 10 2014 at 10:16 AM

The Government is so corrupt this poor dead woman will not get a "real" trial as we're seeing. What a joke the judge and P's attorney's are, not unlike many US judges and attorneys. IMO of course.

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1 reply
muffin ForWhatItIsNow March 10 2014 at 11:52 AM

Yes, the trial is a 3 ring circus with the judge ringmaster and the defendant in ring one with the witnesses vying for the space in ring 2 and 3. Wonder who will have the first book in print.

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loamylam March 10 2014 at 12:01 PM

Something made that guard check out the property...such as calls from neighbors hearing gun shots, etc. It sounds practical the guard called the 'defendent' to check things before going any further on the property. Especially, since he had been alerted of hearing gun shots. Just because an attorney says something does not mean it is fact. It will be interesting to see what phone records actually show...not just what a defense lawyer claims.
I do believe in allowing the courts to try people and not the press. Still, I believe as hearings un-fold the public should be informed. The courts are operated by the peoples' money and have every right to know what is occurring during trials.

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1 reply
Emily loamylam March 10 2014 at 12:30 PM

Just because a guard says something doesn't make it so. They are everywhere. I'm surrounded by them.

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bryanmerrittper2 March 10 2014 at 11:55 AM

Lock his ass up and throw away the key or execute him he is a murderer.

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1 reply
Larry bryanmerrittper2 March 10 2014 at 12:00 PM

Wouldn't it be helpful to see if a jury finds him guilty first or would you just prefer storm the courthouse and hang him?

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Martha March 10 2014 at 11:43 AM

It wasn't one shot it was four.

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Yvonne Tavares March 10 2014 at 12:05 PM

Not being able to present the full results of the autopsy hinders the prosecutions case. If the defendant was able to perform what he performed on the his girlfriend's body, then the jury should have all of it.

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1 reply
loamylam Yvonne Tavares March 10 2014 at 12:13 PM

Yvonne, I believe the jury will hear the details but the press is barred from the details. Regardless, in today's world of communications there are no secrets and it will eventually come out. Somebody will talk you wait 'n see. But, it is interesting how 'celebrities' are coddled and much of actual truths are hidden from juries and the public so much of the time.

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