Oscar Pistorius trial: Pathologist takes the stand

CHRISTOPHER TORCHIA GERALD IMRAY Associated Press Published:

PRETORIA, South Africa (AP) -- The chief lawyer defending Oscar Pistorius at his murder trial on Tuesday questioned the methods of the pathologist who conducted an autopsy on the girlfriend who was fatally shot by the double-amputee runner in his home.

Prof. Gert Saayman testified for a second day about the gunshot wounds suffered by Reeva Steenkamp when Pistorius opened fire through a toilet cubicle door at his home on Feb. 14 last year.

Saayman has asserted that, judging by the food contents in her stomach, Steenkamp probably last ate no more than two hours before her death. Steenkamp was shot after 3 a.m., meaning she must have eaten after 1 a.m. Pistorius has said the couple was in the bedroom by 10 p.m.

Lawyer Barry Roux asked Saayman what medical texts he had consulted in reaching his conclusion about the food, and said he wanted to see them. Saayman said his findings were a "synthesis" of his own professional experiences and observations in addition to consultation of past studies.

Saayman also said the amount of urine in Steenkamp's bladder at the time of her death amounted to the rough equivalent of a teaspoon. The evidence could relate to theories about whether Steenkamp had gotten up in the middle of the night to go to the toilet, as Pistorius contends, or was there following a loud argument with the runner, as the prosecution has suggested.

The pathologist said he had conducted between 10,000 and 15,000 autopsies over 30 years.

On Monday, Pistorius vomited and retched as he listened to Saayman's graphic testimony about Steenkamp's wounds.

He says he shot Steenkamp by accident, fearing there was a dangerous intruder in his home. The prosecution says Pistorius intentionally killed her.