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Friday, October 21, 2016

By Robyn Dixon, Los Angeles Times

JOHANNESBURG — Police photographs show unexplained drops of blood on the wall above the left-hand bedside table and bed headboard and on the duvet in the main bedroom of South African Olympic athlete Oscar Pistorius, according to evidence at his trial Monday.

The blood spatters appear to have been some distance from the trail of blood leading from the bathroom out into the hall, left when Pistorius carried his dying girlfriend, Reeva Steenkamp, down stairs from the bathroom where he shot her.

Pistorius has pleaded not guilty to Steenkamp’s murder. He admits to the shooting but says he mistook her for an intruder.

The prosecution has not yet called blood stain analysts to testify on blood spatter in many locations throughout the house. Ballistics experts are also yet to testify.

At his bail hearing last year, Pistorius’ affidavit said after firing through the door of an enclosed toilet, the double amputee athlete went to the bedroom, put on his prosthetic legs, ran back, broke open the door with a cricket bat and dragged the bleeding Steenkamp from the toilet. He then phoned the estate manager and an ambulance, ran downstairs and opened the front door, then went back upstairs and carried Steenkamp downstairs, the affidavit said.

The police photos also showed damage to the main bedroom door at the edge of the door above the handle, which has so far not been explained by either the prosecution or the defense. Splinters and holes were visible in the picture.

Police photographs showed that the house had an alarm system and electronic alarm beams outside, designed to sound in the case of an intruder moving around outside.

A photograph of the contents of the bedroom drawer showed condoms and a cartridge holder. A gun magazine and holster were in the drawer but removed and photographed on the bed.

Police photographer Barend van Staden detailed the timing of each photograph and when he moved objects.

The meticulous detail about the photographs followed an attack from defense attorney Barry Roux last week when he questioned the reliability of the police photographic evidence and suggested the scene may have been tampered with.

But Van Staden said he captured each scene fully as police found it, after which he took photographs as objects were moved during police investigation. For example, he photographed blood drops on the duvet and then moved the duvet to find out if there was more blood.

Sean Rens, a gun instructor and dealer who trained and tested Pistorius, testified that the athlete loved guns and ordered six from him, including a Smith & Wesson .500 revolver, often described as the most powerful handgun in production, and a Winchester defender pump-action shotgun.

The total purchase, which reportedly cost about $5,000, was canceled a month after Pistorius shot Steenkamp.

Rens said Pistorius had “a great love and enthusiasm” for guns.

Rens said part of the training involved “code red” mode or “combat” mode, when a gun holder would pull a weapon out if an intruder was in the house. He said Pistorius once told him he had gone into “combat” mode and drawn his pistol, only to find he was confronting a laundry machine.

Pistorius tweeted about the incident on Nov. 27, 2012: “Nothing like getting home to hear the washing machine on and thinking it’s an intruder to go into full combat recon mode into the pantry! waa,” he tweeted at the time. The tweet has since been removed.

AFP Photo/Bongiwe Mchunu