“I tried to help her. I tried to open the airway and to look for any signs of life…she was clenching down on Oscar’s fingers…and all during that time, there wasn’t any signs of life I could see…to me it was obvious that she was mortally wounded.” This was the highly descriptive testimony of Dr. Johan Stipp who lives near Oscar Pistorius’ home in the Silverwoods Estate in Pretoria.
Dr. Johan Stipp is a radiologist who operates in a private practice. He was the first doctor on the scene of the shooting which left Reeva Steenkamp dead at the Pistorius residence. Ever since the shooting, Pistorius has repeatedly said that the death of Steenkamp was an accident and he had believed that there was an intruder in his home. He is facing trial for her death at the North Gauteng High Court in Pretoria.
Dr. Stipp said that he heard loud, intermingled voices of a man and woman before he heard what he was certain were gunshots. The woman was screaming and the man’s voice had a lower pitch.
Emotions ran high as the state’s seventh witness, Dr. Stipp gave graphic details about the state that he found Reeva Sttenkamp in shortly after the shooting. He also gave an account of the hysterical utterances of Pistorius after he realised how seriously injured Steenkamp was. The doctor said that Pistorius was crying uncontrollably and begged God to save Reeva’s life. At some point that night, Dr. Stipp began to worry that the accused was in such a state of shock and grief that he might cause harm to himself. While the doctor testified, Pistorius sat with his head in his hands and cried. When the court session was interrupted for a tea break, Aimee Pistorius comforted her brother and held his hand.
Aimee also shared a warm moment with the Steenkamp family. The two families were visibly shaken by the testimony of the doctor. Day four of the trial was an especially draining day for the Pistorius family as it was also the anniversary of the death of Sheila Pistorius, Oscar’s mother.
The heart-wrenching testimony of Dr. Stipp was preceded by the continuation of the cross-examination of Charl Johnson, the husband of the first state witness Michelle Burger. Defence lawyer Barry Roux is convinced that Johnson and Burger have altered the evidence they presented in court. Roux insisted that Johnson should concede that it was possible that the screams that the witness thought were those of a woman were actually those of a distressed Pistorius. Roux went further and raised the possibility that Johnson did not hear gunshots but really heard the sounds made by a cricket bat slamming against a wooden door. John was reluctant to agree to both possibilities.
A few minutes after three in the afternoon, Judge Thokozile Masipa adjourned the court. Court will resume on Friday morning in the first week of the Oscar Pistorius trial for premeditated murder.