'Pistorius sounds like a woman when he screams'
Advocate Barry Roux attacked the testimony of the state's first witness on day one of the case.
PRETORIA - Defence advocate Barry Roux on Monday told the state's first witness in the Oscar Pistorius murder trial that noises she believed were gunshots were in fact his client bashing down the door with a cricket bat.
University lecturer and neighbour Michelle Burger was questioned about her version of events when the Olympic and Paralympic athlete's 29-year-old girlfriend Reeva Steenkamp was gunned down at his Pretoria East home on 14 February 2013.
The "trial of the decade" got underway today in the North Gauteng High Court in Pretoria with Pistorius's legal team going on the offensive.
Oscar Pistorius and his lawyer Barry Roux outside the Pretoria High Court on 3 March 2014. Picture: Govan Whittles/EWN.
Burger lives in Silver Stream Estate, which is adjacent to the Silver Woods Country Estate, where the shooting took place.
She gave haunting evidence about hearing blood-curdling screams, four gunshots and then silence from the athlete's house.
Roux questioned Burger about each detail of her testimony. Defence Advocate Barry Roux speaks at the start of the Oscar Pistorius murder trial on 3 March 2014. Picture: POOL.
Defence Advocate Barry Roux speaks at the start of the Oscar Pistorius murder trial on 3 March 2014. Picture: POOL.
He put it to Burger that she was in fact asleep when Pistorius fired the four gunshots which killed Steenkamp.
Roux said Pistorius sounds like a woman when he screams because his voice pitches when he is anxious and said they will call a witness to testify to that effect.
Burger battled with the translator's interpretation of her testimony, which was given in Afrikaans.
Last year, a scandal erupted at former president Nelson Mandela's memorial service at FNB Stadium when translator Thamsanqa Jantjies suffered what he described as a schizophrenic episode. He was accused of making references to prawns and rocking horses instead of displaying what speakers were saying.
Eventually, Burger volunteered to testify in English as much as she could.
Despite the intense grilling, Burger stuck to her story.
Earlier, pictures were shown on screens pointing out where she lives in relation to Pistorius. While it is far, she does have a line of sight.
Meanwhile, Pistorius maintained his composure throughout day one of his hearing.
After proceedings were adjourned, the Paralympian was confronted by a media frenzy and dozens of screaming fans as he left the court this afternoon.
Many of them were journalists, but the majority were teenagers who were waiting to catch sight of the Paralympian.
Oscar Pistorius leaves the Pretoria High Court after the first day of his murder trial on 3 March 2013. Picture: Sebabatso Mosamo/EWN.
Outside the Pretoria High Court following the first day of the Oscar Pistorius murder trial on 3 March 2013. Picture: Sebabatso Mosamo/EWN.
Earlier, a group of ANC Women's League (ANCWL) members staged a protest in support of Steenkamp's family.
The ANC Women's League sing outside the Pretoria High Court ahead of the first day of Oscar Pistorius murder trial on 3 March 2014. Picture: Govan Whittles/EWN.
These scenes are expected to play out throughout the duration of the trial.
The state has 107 witnesses lined up for the trial.