Oscar Pistorius Trial Resumes, Estate Manager Testifies

Oscar Pistorius is back in court after a two week recess. His first witness is the estate manager Johan Stander. Stander was the first person Oscar called after the shooting. He arrived at the scene almost immediately. Oscar told him immediately he mistook Reeva for an intruder.

Stander was on the state's witness list but was not called to testify. Oscar's co-counsel, Kenny Oldwage, is questioning Stander. [More...]

Stander says he first met Oscar in 2009 when he first moved to the neighborhood. Oscar offered to help him move his furniture in. He said he looks after Oscar's pets when he goes overseas.

Stander says he lives 400 meters, or a one minute drive from Oscar's house. (212 meters measured by rooftop, or "as the crow flies.".) When Oscar called at 3:18 a.m., he was asleep. Oscar said, "Johan, please, please come to my house. I shot Reeva. I thought she was an intruder.” Stander and his daughter Carice got in their car and drove over. It took about three minutes from the end of the phone call to arrive at Oscar's house. The front door was open and there was a light on.

Stander's daughter pushed Oscar's front door open. They saw Oscar coming down the stairs. They could see that Reeva had a head wound. Oscar was crying, he was in pain. "He was broken, screaming, crying, praying. I spent some time trying to calm him down." He asked Stander and his daughter to help, and take Reeva to the hospital.

Stander went outside to call an ambulance and neighbor Dr. Johan Stipp arrived and said he’s a doctor. Stander asked him for the phone number for the ambulance, and Stipp told him "I'm actually a radiologist," then walked inside. (He was able to give him the ER number.)

Stander saw Oscar go upstairs. He told Carice to follow him, afraid he might harm himself. Oscar went upstairs to get Reeva's ID. He was upstairs for about 30 seconds.

Stander says Stipp told him he heard four shots, silence, screams then four shots again. (Two bursts of gunshots, which is important to the defense timeline.) Stander says he remembers it "distinctly" because he was concerned about anyone firing 8 shots - even at an intruder. When Stipp testified, he said he heard "three loud bangs" followed by a woman's screams.

Stander confirmed he asked security to call the police. His call to emergency medics was at 3:27 a.m. and lasted about 5 minutes.

Stander says he spent time with Oscar downstairs and in the kitchen. He saw Oscar bring Reeva's body downstairs. Oscar was crying and praying, asking G-d to help him. Stander describes "Oscar's commitment" to trying to save Reeva. He put his fingers in her mouth. He begged G-d to save her. Stander: "I saw the truth there that morning. I saw it. And I feel it."

More people arrived, including police. Stander called Oscar's brother Carl around 3:59 a.m., the same time police were arriving. Once police took over the scene, he remained outside. He saw people in police and civilian clothes going up and down the stairs.

Stander is asked about other incidents of crime in the neighborhood, and gives several instances involving intruders. (This supports Oscar's contention he had reason to be fearful of intruders.) In one incident, the intruders used a ladder to break in. In another, intruders locked a homeowner in his garage and robbed the place.

Prosecutor Nel objects as "hearsay" but Oscar's lawyer responds these were reported incidents and he was the estate manager. Stander says Oscar, as a resident, would have been told about these incidents. He and Oscar also discussed security and the various incidents when Oscar would return from his trips.

Stander knew Reeva and said she sometimes stayed at Oscar's when he was out of town. For example, when Oscar went to Capetown sometime after Christmas, she stayed at his house until Jan. 31.

Stander finishes his direct testimony, and prosecutor Nel cross-examines. He asks Stander about the improved security measures that were implemented while he was in charge of estate security. Stander says there were some.

Nel asks about what Oscar said on the phone, and Stander repeats it, and says he is 100% sure that is what Oscar said. He says he heard no shots and no screams.

Stander says he has not talked to Oscar about the incident since. He and his daughter did go to the memorial Oscar's uncle held for Reeva. He and Oscar only talked about having coffee at the memorial. He said he and Oscar never had long discussions and did not socialize. He says he never saw Oscar with a firearm.

He also says he ran into Oscar in "chambers" when he was going for a talk with the legal team but he and Oscar didn't have any discussion.

During cross, Nel elicits that Oscar told him he made a mistake, and then jumps on him for not having used that word before. He says, "It was a mistake for me, he said he thought she was an intruder." In other words, he interpreted Oscar to mean he made a mistake when he shot Reeva, not that he intended to shoot an intruder. He angrily denies Nel's accusation that Oscar was saying he meant to kill an intruder and shot Reeva instead.

Nel asks about the lighting. Stander says, there was enough light in the house for him to see the expression on Oscarís face when he came downstairs.

Nel asks if he saw Oscar call anyone else. He says no, and it was his daughter who called Oscar's friend Justin Devaris.

Stander tells Nel Stander he didnt help the defense team when they returned to house. He did have the house key, but hasn't been back to Oscar's house since that night.

Stander says he gave Stipp's number to the defense and called Stipp to tell him he had done so. "I thought it was right thing to do."

Jumping back for a moment to Stander's testimony. He was asked about the statements he gave to police and not being called by the state as a witness. He said former investigator Hilton Botha (who was removed early on after allegedly mishandling the investigation) asked Stander to give a written statement. Later, Botha's replacement, Mike van Aardt, had him give another statement. Van Aardt told him he would be a state's witness. Then he was told by prosecutors they are only calling one witness from each family, and they were going to call his daughter. But his daughter was not called as a witness.

It seems to me Stander emerged unscathed from Nel's cross and was a stong witness for Oscar.

Also expected to testify shortly: Ballistics expert Wollie Wolmarans.

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  • Display: Sort:
    To play devil's advocate (5.00 / 1) (#1)
    by Dadler on Mon May 05, 2014 at 06:13:40 PM EST
    It seems OP needed a few minutes to come up with a story to explain the shooting, which is why OP told the first security guard who called that everything was fine. This testimony does NOTHING to get around that giant hole in OP's story, and his defense have to know that. Without that original witness being impeached completely, this is, IMO, largely a waste of time.

    I Haven't Heard of Evidence (5.00 / 1) (#5)
    by RickyJim on Tue May 06, 2014 at 10:02:27 AM EST
    being presented by the defense that can refute the Culpable Homicide charge.  Maybe all they can hope for is to beat the murder rap.  How he couldn't be found very negligent in the death of a guest in his own home is a mystery.

    That reminds me... (none / 0) (#2)
    by Rumpole on Mon May 05, 2014 at 09:02:12 PM EST
    .... of a point that occurred to me watching the trial live......

    [b][i]"Then he was told by prosecutors they are only calling one witness from each family....."[/i][/b]

     Ha!!!! So the prosecution admits that people from the same "family" are not independent witnesses. Is it a sign of DESPERATION that they not only called Dr Stipps and Michelle Burger, but also called their respective spouses. It seems to me to be an attempt to bloster the "single" witnessing by each married couple, and attempting to present it as two different testimonies that coincide.

     I'd like to ad that the "time wasting" is beyond a joke. After an (unnecessary) 2 week vacation they did PROMISE to "up their game" and make up for lost time. Instead they have taken lack of preparation to new lows. With very short working days and frequent long "tea breaks" there is no excuse for not managing to provide witnesses to take them even as far as the lunch break.

    Or, more likely (none / 0) (#3)
    by jbindc on Tue May 06, 2014 at 06:53:25 AM EST
    So the prosecution admits that people from the same "family" are not independent witnesses.

    They decided the testimony would be not be cumulative and would just waste the court's time.


    Oh, and that "2 week vacation"? (none / 0) (#4)
    by jbindc on Tue May 06, 2014 at 07:06:59 AM EST
    Turns out the prosecutor wanted to attend to other cases where another defendant was sitting in jail.  Pistorius is free on bond, so his case takes a back seat.

    It was stated by Nel (5.00 / 1) (#6)
    by Rumpole on Tue May 06, 2014 at 06:43:17 PM EST
    that ONE of Nel's assistants was to attend to the other matter of a defendant "sitting in jail". (I wonder how far they got with that case?). Nel sheepishly said that was not the whole reason and the reason related to "personal arrangements". I would guess "vacation plans"  The time wasting in the OP case is farcical. They work 6 hour days with a half hour "tea break" and an hour for lunch. Even so, they often "knock off" early, and as we have seen, also made excuses to have days (weeks) off as well.

    This is (5.00 / 1) (#7)
    by Rumpole on Tue May 06, 2014 at 06:47:26 PM EST
    a MURDER trial, and a high profile one at that. I should take precedence once it has commenced. Time costs money as well as costing people involved in regards anguish etc. The criminal Justice system should not be about who has enough money to fund a VERY expensive legal defence team through a ridiculously long trial.

    Did you read the artcle? (none / 0) (#8)
    by jbindc on Wed May 07, 2014 at 07:37:12 AM EST
    The prosecution said Tuesday that it wanted to attend to other cases in which defendants were in detention. Mr. Pistorius, 27, is free on bail.

    The request also had the support of the defense, so it seems that you are the only one whining about this delay.


    I am not (none / 0) (#9)
    by Rumpole on Wed May 07, 2014 at 07:41:02 PM EST

    The "support of the defence" was more like "acquiescing" (watch the trial)and so what?

    It is still a farce.


    Both sides (none / 0) (#10)
    by Rumpole on Wed May 07, 2014 at 08:09:21 PM EST
    promised to compensate by trying to make up for lost "vacation time' when they got back.... start half hour early (and up their game generally)...

     How is that working out?

    They are starting at same old time and have not been prepared enough to even get as far a lunch time the first two days. And then it's yet another day off?  lol


    Blame the judge (none / 0) (#11)
    by jbindc on Thu May 08, 2014 at 06:13:17 AM EST
    She's the one running the courtroom.

    Meanwhile, OP is still free on bond....