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Oscar Pistorius defense calls anesthetist

May. 8, 2014 6:12 AM EDT
By Christopher Torchia and Gerald Imray

PRETORIA, South Africa (AP) - Oscar Pistorius' defense team called an anesthetist to testify at the double-amputee runner's murder trial Thursday in an attempt to counter prosecution claims that Pistorius is lying about the timeline of events on the night he killed girlfriend Reeva Steenkamp.

Prof. Aina Christina Lundgren was being questioned on her expertise regarding how long it takes a person to digest food after eating.

The testimony relates to an autopsy report on Steenkamp's body that said she still had food in her stomach after she was killed by Pistorius, leading prosecutors to challenge his story that the couple last ate around eight hours before he shot her through a toilet door. An expert testifying for the prosecution said a person's stomach is normally empty of food six hours after eating and Steenkamp ate much later on the night of the killing and not in line with Pistorius' story.

Prosecutors say that's because the couple were up arguing late into the night before Pistorius shot Steenkamp multiple times in the midst of a heated fight through a toilet stall door in his bathroom. Pistorius says he mistook her for an intruder hiding behind the closed toilet stall door. He testified the couple had dinner at around 7 p.m. on the night she was killed, and they were in bed around 10 p.m. Pistorius shot Steenkamp after 3 a.m. on Feb. 14, 2013.

Lundgren, who described herself as a specialist anesthetist, testified that there are a number of factors that could have delayed the digestion process in Steenkamp to explain the food found in her stomach, including that she was a pre-menopausal woman and had been sleeping.

Lundgren was presented by the defense to try and undermine the testimony of pathologist Prof. Gert Saayman, who said it was his opinion that Steenkamp ate much later than Pistorius says, possibly even at around 1 a.m. when the runner claims they were in bed. Lundgren said it was difficult to be exact about the rate of digestion and it was "speculative to attempt to estimate when she had last eaten."

Chief prosecutor Gerrie Nel cross-examined Lundgren and pointed to Saayman's findings that he could even identify vegetable and cheese matter in Steenkamp's stomach.

"Would you not have expected the digestive process to have caused the contents to be unrecognizable after eight hours?" Nel asked Lundgren.

"I can't comment," she replied.

"But he can, and he did," Nel said of Saayman's report. The state pathologist was present in the courtroom and Nel asserted that his evidence was "more probable."

Replying to Nel's questions, Lundgren said she was a clinician and unwilling to criticize Saayman, a pathologist. However, later on re-examination by chief defense lawyer Barry Roux, she said she did not agree with Saayman's assertion that Steenkamp ate at 1 a.m. or after.

Pistorius' lawyers also said in a statement Thursday that an offer to buy the villa where the Olympian killed Steenkamp had been accepted and the sale of the house was being processed. Pistorius is selling his home in the gated community in the South African capital Pretoria to help with his legal bills. His trial is now into its seventh week of testimony.

Lawyer Brian Webber said they would not identify who was buying the house or the amount it was being sold for until the sale was finalized. Pistorius last year valued the house at about $450,000.

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i12cae May 08 2014 at 7:51 AM

pre-menopausal?! Steenkamp was in her 20's, did she mean pre-menstrual? Or was it the reporters typo error?

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1 reply
whats2hunt i12cae May 08 2014 at 9:33 AM

Great catch - however ...........
She WAS pre-menopausal.................. about 25 years !!!!

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Cassandra May 08 2014 at 12:27 PM

Another guilty person who will not suffer any consequences like OJ Simpson and George Zimmerman. Unfortunately,there justice will be not be meted until life after death.

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2 replies
dralfredotaule Cassandra May 08 2014 at 12:42 PM

Wait and see!

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zygi & paris Cassandra May 08 2014 at 3:09 PM

OJ Simpson has met his fate. Now, if you are talking about Zimmerman, he still has to meet his. Karma is a you know what, and it's on its way.

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1 reply
lyricalvirgo zygi & paris May 08 2014 at 5:14 PM

How is it you figure that OJ Simpson met his fate. He got away with Murder!!!

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bellismoo May 08 2014 at 12:27 PM

how she ate at 1.00 am ..when she was shot at 10 ?? this doctor is cray

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3 replies
Rosemarie May 08 2014 at 12:40 PM

He has an anger problem to say the least, he killed her!!!!

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1 reply
zygi & paris Rosemarie May 08 2014 at 3:08 PM

I get angry sometimes and I've NEVER killed anyone. I don't even hit people who need to be hit. So there goes your theory.

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2 replies
soccerbob1152 zygi & paris May 08 2014 at 4:20 PM

don't get me angry or else.....

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jmcnab zygi & paris May 08 2014 at 5:09 PM

Not everyone can hold their temper like you can! Many people have been injured or killed by an angry person.

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Vimala Nowlis May 08 2014 at 7:42 PM

These are the undisbuted facts -
He invited Reeva over for Valentine's Day.
He knew she was spending the night.
They had an argument before bed.
He opened the window because it's a hot night.
He's a psycho living in a fortified and armed house.
He went shooting like Rambo in the middle of the night at the locked bathroom door and killed Reeva.
Neighbors heard screaming and shooting at the same time.

These are disputed facts -
He heard a noise and found Reeva in a locked bathroom crying.
He banged on the bathroom door with a bat, making holes in the door.
When she wouldn't open the door, he got his gun and started shooting at the locked bathroom door like Rambo.

These are the problems -
He did not call for help for 1/2 hour but cuddled her to make sure she's dead and disturbed the crime scene.
He continued to scream to confuse the neighbors because he knew the window was open.
After he did call 911, he moved her body downstairs and disturbed evidence.

He's as guilty as can be.

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Tom May 08 2014 at 1:28 PM

I would rather see this creep turned loose rather than hear another word about him.

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justalittlepalmtree May 08 2014 at 2:52 PM

Reeva was fully dressed when shot and this Lundgren woman says sleeping would slow down the digestive process. What next? Reeva got up from sleeping and dressed to go to the bathroom. This story has more holes that swiss cheese. He won't need to worry over selling his house to pay his legal bills. He's a hot tempered murderer and is going to prison for 25 years. No doubt about it.

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1 reply
sanrous2 justalittlepalmtree May 08 2014 at 5:35 PM

It's gets to 'reaching" on prosectors' part when he has decide timeline by digestion. Reason for "reaching" is so many inconsistencies of supposed witnesses. When they heard her scream..How many times, etc. They've already established that 1st shot was one that killed her. And incident where prosecutor sneer w. slight giggle when Pistorius was on the stand. Let's not forget the last prosecutor that did that! Casey Anthony should have sent him a basket of fruit. Some below said "He murdered her! Why is trial taking so long." We know he murdered her..Question is was it accidental or intentional. Still going with accidental.!

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1 reply
bdot157 sanrous2 May 08 2014 at 8:12 PM

Still got your blinders on too

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socaldavids May 08 2014 at 4:39 PM

Why would anyone want to buy that house? It's in such a dangerous gated community, with constant crime apparently. I've heard that people even are broken into via their bathroom windows at 3 AM in the morning. I hope that whomever purchased the house is properly armed to deal with bathroom occupying intruders.

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1 reply
bdot157 socaldavids May 08 2014 at 8:10 PM

Actually the gated community you are referring to has had like 2 break-ins in the last 10 years. The community is patrolled by guards as well, which Pistorius lied to after killing Steenkamp saying everything is okay

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db1219 May 08 2014 at 5:00 PM

Pistorius killed his girlfriend, whom he was living with, and some of you want to give him a free pass??? Man, you folks have no hearts. I'm glad that I'm not related to you.

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mtarnol May 08 2014 at 6:27 PM

Who hears a noise in the middle of the night, doesn't at least first check to make sure it's not the person sleeping next to them, then shoots throught a door no warning?

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