PRETORIA, South Africa — Police photographs of Oscar Pistorius standing on his blood-stained prosthetic legs and wearing shorts covered in blood, taken shortly after the athlete fatally shot his girlfriend, were shown to the court at his murder trial Friday.
Prosecutors displayed two photos on TV monitors in the courtroom. In one, the muscled Olympic athlete, who is shirtless, is standing facing the camera wearing his prosthetics. There are blood stains up to the knees of his limbs and his shorts are also bloodied, but his naked chest appears to be clean of blood.
A second photograph shows Pistorius from the waist up and from the left side, also showing blood on his shorts and parts of his body, with a tattoo visible on his back.
The photographs were taken in the garage of Pistorius’ Pretoria home where the athlete killed Reeva Steenkamp in the early hours of Valentine’s Day last year, a former policeman testified.
Former police colonel G.S. van Rensburg described the early part of the police investigation into the shooting after he arrived at the scene around 30 to 40 minutes after prosecutors say Pistorius killed Steenkamp in the pre-dawn hours of Feb. 14, 2013. The prosecution says Pistorius intentionally killed Steenkamp in an upstairs bathroom after a loud argument and then tried to cover it up by saying he thought the 29-year-old model was a dangerous intruder.
Pistorius, 27, maintains the killing was an accident and has pleaded not guilty to all charges against him.
Van Rensburg, the former commander at a police station close to Pistorius’ home, said he didn’t arrest Pistorius immediately after discovering Steenkamp had been shot dead, but did warn him to remain at the house.
“I told him I observed him as a suspect at that stage,” van Rensburg said. “I warned him of his rights. I said to him I wasn’t arresting him at that stage. … I requested him to remain present at all times at the scene.”
Van Rensburg didn’t describe Pistorius’ reactions in detail, but said that the runner’s brother, Carl, sister, Aimee, and a lawyer arrived at the house.
During the investigation in the bathroom, van Rensburg also said that he turned around at one point to see that the firearms expert had handled the gun Pistorius used to kill Steenkamp and taken the magazine out of the weapon without using gloves.
“I asked him, ‘What are you doing?”’ van Rensburg testified. The officer realized his error, apologized, put the magazine back in the gun and laid it on the mat where it was on the floor, van Rensburg said. He then took the gloves out of his chest pocket, and again picked up the gun, according to van Rensburg.
“I was very angry,” he said.
Van Rensburg also testified Friday that one of Pistorius’ expensive watches was apparently stolen from the crime scene that night. About eight expensive watches were found in a blood-spattered box in Pistorius’ bedroom upstairs, said van Rensburg and he said he warned fellow officers that the watches should be observed closely because they could be tempting to anyone moving through the crime scene.
Pistorius’ sister asked if she could take one of the watches, leaving seven in place, he said. But van Rensburg said another went missing while he was out of the room, prompting him to order the frisking of all the police forensic experts on the scene, as well as a search of their bags and vehicles, and the entire house.
Van Rensburg, who recalled that one of the officers had estimated the cost of one watch at close to $10,000, said he then opened a case of theft after the watch was not found.
Later, he said, Pistorius’ brother, Carl, asked if he could take the watches. Van Rensburg said he would instead hand the watches directly to Oscar Pistorius, the owner of the watches, but without the box, which was still being analyzed. While doing so, he asked Pistorius to inform him if anything else went missing, but nothing else was reported stolen.
On Thursday, images of blood stains on the walls, floors and furniture in Pistorius’ home were displayed in court, prompting Pistorius to look away from TV monitors showing the photographs. The screen in front of Pistorius was switched off Thursday and remained off for the testimony Friday morning.
Pistorius, the first double amputee to run at the Olympics, faces 25 years to life in prison if convicted of murder in Steenkamp’s killing.