Lying in the Sun

Pistoris Legal Experts

Pistorius Legal Experts


Three short interviews Sky's Jeremy Thomson speaking with Martin Hood, S.African legal expert, one before the proceedings commenced this morning, one after the morning break and one after end of day.


Number 1


Martin Hood

(commenting on whether Pistorius is allowed to speak with his Counsel during the period of cross examination)


The situation is very similar to that in UK.  When a witness is under cross examination his legal examiners are not allowed to discuss the merits case with him.  They cannot say – ‘don’t say this, say that.’

What they could possibly do because there is going to be contact with your legal team, you can’t be totally isolated from your legal team particularly over a 5 day period like this.  What they could possibly do is say to Oscar, ‘you are not answering the question, or you are being argumentative make your answers shorter.'  So they are not talking about the merits they are just talking about the delivery.  And I would be interested to see this morning if that talking to has actually taken place, as when we’ve seen Oscar under examination by his own Defence team his evidence was very emotional his voice was high pitched which is a sign of stress.  Then Gerrie Nel gets his teeth into him and he becomes a different person in many respects, his voice is firmer, it’s a bit deeper, and he’s argumentative, he’s firm, and I’d be interested today if he carries on in that way or if  this talking to has taken place and if he’s going to be more relaxed, perhaps a little more direct, perhaps not so evasive.

Thomson, Sky News

How much does the Judge take into account that whole question of demeanor?

Hood

Very much!   You might recall our discussions yesterday I focused a great deal on credibility. Demeanour is part of credibility.  But your method of delivery would be very important.  We can’t see Oscar giving evidence, what I have been listening to is the tone of his voice because the tone of a person’s voice shows a lot about what they are actually going through at that particular time.  As I said if you’re voice is under stress it tends to go up a couple octaves if you are confident if you are telling the truth you tend to be direct and firm and in this particular case with Oscar I think that because there is only one version that can be given orally that’s his version the credibility aspect Is the major aspect of deciding whether he is guilty or not.

Thomson

Alex Crawford word has said that Mr Pistorius seems determined to focus only on the Judge he will not look at Mr Nel.

Hood

I don’t think that is too unusual, as the way I tell my witnesses to give evidence in criminal trial  is to look at the Judge because you want the judge to see your face you want the judge to look.. And what I say is look at the judge or the magistrate in their eyes, you are convincing that judicial officer of truth -'look at me I am telling the truth   Look at me I have a direct stare I am not unhappy to hold your gaze I am telling the truth I want you to look into my mind and understand that I am telling the truth.'

So talking directly to the Judge is not that unusual

Thomson

Gerrie Nel  has  said time and time again emphasised - 'you won’t take responsibility,  you won’t answer the questions, your evasive your lying, you’re the centre of the universe you don’t take account of what anybody else says.'  He’s obviously banging home those points so that the Judge is left with this impression of this man.


(***Note...I don't believe Gerrie Nel did actually ever say to Pistorius - you're the centre of the universe***)

Hood

I think it goes beyond an impression I think that factually we are looking at a situation where Pistorius has not answered the questions, where he has been evasive, where he has been argumentative, and as a result of that, as I indicated yesterday his credibility I think has been left in tatters.

And again that is really what this is about he’s going to…we’re hopefully going to get to that today to his real version or the version of what happened, uner credibiity and we are going to see that we are going to test that.  Gerrie Nel is going to test that, and we are going to see how well Pistorius stands up to that cross examination, and it’s going to be, not what he says, as much as how he says it, and  that goes back to the very issue of credibility again.

END


Number 2

Thomson

What was Gerrie Nel up to he seems to be darting from one topic to another.

Hood

I’m not sure where he’s been...where he’s going.  He may just be filling in some gaps before teatime.  He did start getting into the main event just before break.  I think we can take two things out of what has happened this morning, and one is a picture of a person who is more prone to going into confrontation than that of average persons.  We have two occasions, examples of where he initiated the contact that led to a confrontation, discussion as Oscar has called it.  And I’m pretty sure he is going to tie that to – ‘when you picked up your firearm you were just  doing that again, you initiated a confrontation’   So I think that is where we are going.

And then the second point we can take out of what has happened is again the character of his evidence.   Nel has done a good job of actually saying  - ‘but this is improbable you say you saw a flash you heard a gunshot but you got off highway, you parked your car but you can’t remember who you phoned, you can’t remember who came and collected you,  can’t you remember who you called?   This is a significant event in your life why can’t you remember these things.’ 

And Pistorius doesn’t have a very credible answer to these things. 
  So again Nel has unpacked a course of Pistorius conduct, and he’s put a question mark over it.

Thomson

Mr Nel has said several times your stories are (?)   but he’s acutally called him a liar and the Judge finally jumped in there at the end.  What  is that all about?

Hood

I find that interesting because earlier on the Judge also intervened.  We’ve had 20 days now, with very little intervention by the Judge and this morning, she has intervened twice.   She’s made sure to  Pistorius – ‘you’re not tired,  I don’t want your evidence to be tainted by the fact that you are tired?’

She’s closing doors.  She’s saying –‘listen I want this to be fair and I want there to be no doubt your evidence is good evidence.  I don’t want you to come back afterwards, and say ‘I was tired I was wrong.'

And then she’s kind of rapped Nel on the knuckles a bit, and personally… and let me say I am not supposed to be critical of judicial officers,  but I think maybe she’s been a little bit unfair because Nel has called him a liar on a number of occasions…

Thomson

...3 days in a row...

Hood

…And now all of a sudden the Judge kind of pulls him up a bit.  Might be just a sign of frustration saying – ‘Let’s get into the nitty gritty of the matter, we’ve been doing this for 5 days now, I want to hear what really happened.'

 

Thomson

I was wondering about the 6/7 topics.  He darted about (he lists topics) Is he trying to throw him off balance, is that a legal tactic, closing the door?  Will the Judge be confused, know where he is going?

Hood

There are several questions there.  I think its tactics and he’s trying to keep him off balance.  You always try and keep your witness unstable because then their answers are going to be less planned.  I don’t think the Judge will be thrown off because what will happen is, when all the evidence is finished, and the closing arguments have been completed the Judge will postpone the matter.  I  cannot see that she will give the judgement there and then.    She will get the record and she will study the record and she will have  ample time to actually go through everything that is necessary -the exhibits, the written record etc and then make a proper decision.  So she is not going to be put off by this jumping around.

 

Hood

I assume tactical here.

Keeping Pistorius on brink he wants to keep him unnerved until Monday.  I think also he wants the opportunity to go through bail application, he intimated he needed to refer to it but he didn’t have it immediately  available so I think he wants to go back and make reference to certain elements that are set out in the bail application.

I think there is a very important sub text here though which Nel is going to bring up on Monday, and that is, on taking Oscar through certain elements of what happened on that day, he’s actually leading up to proving the intent to commit murder.  He indicated that he went into a confrontation instead of moving out of a confrontation   And, as I’ve indicated it’s one of those unwritten rules when you are a firearm owner, that taking someone else’s life with a firearm is an absolute last resort.  And now Nel has got him to concede yes – I was standing up for mysel,f I was going into that confrontation, and that is going towards proving intention.

Thomson

And he made the point, he asked him if he felt vulnerable because he was on his stumps he didn’t have his prosthetic legs on and Pistorius said yes, and he said well you can’t be vulnerable and approach danger.

Hood

Can’t be vulnerable, and aggressive, and there were just so many contradictions in Pistorius evidence.  He’s really come across poorly in this last hour or so.


Thomson

And what he extracted from Pistorus was that ‘it was not your intention to protect Reeva but confront what you tell us were intruders.

Hood

Absolutely, that is just the crux of this matter you had  an intent to take the life of another human being and that is enough to proof that Reeva’s killing was in fact a murder.

Thomson

And what he’s saying is what Mr Nel was saying you could have and perhaps should have taken her away from the danger?

Hood

Absolutely the taking of some else life even in a self -defence situation where your life is I danger is a last resort you must do absolutely everything possible to avoid taking soennn else life.   We have a constitutional right to life in this country he should have said let’s get away from this danger.  Nel has demonstrated very very simply that there was a door to the bedroom he could have gone the other way why didn’t he go the other way.  Pistorius was forced to concede because I wanted to stand up for myself, I’m not the type of person who gets pushed around I went into that confrontation

 

Thomson

Is it fair to say that the moment that Mr Nel  established that Pistorius  had moved forward to danger than moved away from it that it changes the complexion of the case?

Hood

Dramatically!  Remember,  for self- defence to be a defence in law you must be defending yoursef.  When you move toward an environment where there is going to be a confronatation you become the aggressor not the victim.   And Nel has effectively established at this stage that Pistorius state of mind was that of an aggressor – ‘I was standing up for myself’.  I think he used words to that effect.  ‘I’m not type person that get pushed around’  That’s what he said so he has established that Pistorius ’ has gone from being a potential victim to the aggressor

Thomson

And they talked a lot about… he kept pressing the button if you like, about the mistakes,  he’s making… your making mistakes/ another mistake, and the judge checked with Pistorius - are you tired?

Hood

She was making sure that Pistorius evidence on his own version, was good evidence and he can’t say I shouldn’t have said that because I was a little bit tired, a little bit confused, I wasn’t thinking quickly enough’ And now we have situation where after that was established that he was okay to give evidence he again has been put through the situation where he has conceded on two occasions, if I remember correctly. -  I made a mistake I didn’ understand question properly, I didn’t answer the question properly.   So again we get this impression that he’s got feet of clay when it begins, to  become difficult for him to actually continue a version and remain credible, he changes.  Very bad for a witness!


END

Number 3

Thomson

The whole point of this case as far as the Prosecutor is cocern is try and prove a case of murder. Has he laid down sufficient foundations  yet or is he still working on it

Hood

The foundations are there, and as far as I’m concerned they’re pretty solid. We must bear in mind there is only one eye witness, and that evidence is Oscars, and that evidence is going to be tailored - to use the word of Gerry Nel- to suit Oscar.

So Gerry Nel has to do two things, he has to establish that Pisrorius evidence is not credible. And I think he has done a very good job of hat.

The second thing he’s got to do is, to get into the state of mind of Pistorius.    He'as got to illustrate to the Court what Oscars state of mind was at the time he pulled that trigger.  Not once, because remember, he said he didn’t mean for the gun to go off, it went off 4 times!  He's got to establish to the Court that not only did Oscar go into that situation, but he intended the consequences he intended the result, and I think hes doing very well toward proving that.


Thomson

When Oscar Pistorius gives him the answer- 'that it was an accident, I didn’t mean for the gun to go off  that isn't a sufficient defence.


Hood

It just goes back to the point Gerrie Nel made - that he doesn’t want to take responsibility.  By saying it's an accident you are saying I'm not responsible.  It is not a defence.   To say I did not intend it to happen, it was an accident. It is not a defence.  You’ve got to have a credible explanation that excuses your conduct and we have not heard that credible explanation.

Thomson

I notice you were telling me earlier that the fact he advanced with the gun instead of retreated to protect himself, it does tip the balance, that changes the complexion of where case stands?

Hood

I would go further than that. I would use the word watershed. When Nel established that he became that person that went intentionally or deliberately into that situation he was no longer an innocent person was no longer a potential an innocent victim. He was taking control of the situation,  and when you take control you act consciously, and therefore you act intentionally.

Thomson

Come Monday can Oscar Pistorius repair some of the damage you suggest has been done or is it a matter of damage limitation so to speak?

Hood

I really think Oscar should say less.  Hehas tried to justify, and exculpate, excuse himself all along, and he just carries on and on saying more and more and more, and Gerrie Nel has made the point - ' you are not making sense because  you don’t believe what you are actually saying and you don’t believe what you are saying because because you can’t remember what you said just now because its not true.'

And that is amply illustrated by the fact he keeps saying -' I made a mistake.'


END

Alex Crawford

Alex Crawford states that Pistorius was yawning, wiping his eyes quite often even before the case started this morning.   She said in fact the whole Pistorius family looked pretty tired.   She said Pistorius was holding up pretty well this morning, a few contradictions but that he seemed to be getting stuck in there and not quite so combatant as he was yesterday with Gerrie Nel.


Personally I think Pistorius dug himself in deeper than ever.  He was equally as arrogant and argumentative, and the lies flowed faster and thicker than before.


END


I believe he got emotional when it suited him, and was very sharp, on the ball, if you like when it suited him also.

He accepted no responsibility whatsoever for anything at all everyone was a liar but him, everyone who has testified has lied about him.  He blamed everyone.

Sickeningly he blamed Reeva Steenkamp for not calling out to him to alert him that she was in the toilet!

He wished she had he said, but she didn't!

I wish she’d let me know she was there.  She did not do that!

The man is a despicable low life.

Mrs Steenkamp Reeva's mum sits there so dignified and has to listen to how this excuse for a human being, this coward, deliberately took her daughter's life in the most violent of ways, and he comes out with something like that.    It's Reeva's fault now?

The guy could not sink lower.

As for Pistorius being darn well tired.   Who gives a toss?

If  justice is served he will have plenty of time to rest in a cell in a South African prison.


l-azzeri-lies-in-the-sun.com
11th April 2014

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