Reeva Steenkamp was standing in a toilet cubicle and facing the closed door when she was hit in the right hip by the first of four hollow-point bullets fired at her by Oscar Pistorius, a police ballistics expert testified Wednesday.
Steenkamp then fell back onto a magazine holder in the cubicle and was struck in the right arm and head by the last two shots fired by the double-amputee Olympian with his 9 mm pistol through the door.
Pistorius' girlfriend crossed her arms over her head to protect herself, Capt. Christiaan Mangena said, when she was hit in the arm and head. He testified that he believed the second bullet shot missed the law graduate and ricocheted off a wall inside the cubicle and broke into fragments, which caused bruising on her back.
Mangena concluded through his analysis of the shooting scene and wounds on Steenkamp's body from post-mortem photographs that one of the final two bullets went through Steenkamp's left hand before penetrating her skull as she held it over her head. The policeman said he couldn't determine the order of the last two shots.
As Mangena threw his hands up to cover his head in court and replicate the "defensive position" he said Steenkamp took as the last shots were fired, Pistorius put his fingers in his ears in an apparent attempt to block out the testimony.
Pistorius fired from a distance of at least 60 centimeters (12 inches) and no further than a wall behind him, about 3 meters (3.28 yards) away, Mangena said.
Mangena also described the impact of the type of bullets in Pistorius' gun, which were designed to cause maximum damage, he said. "It hits the target, it opens up, it creates six talons, and these talons are sharp," Mangena said. "It cuts through the organs of a human being."
The track star is accused of premeditated murder after fatally shooting his girlfriend Reeva Steenkamp through a bathroom door on Valentine's Day last year. Pistorius, 27, insists he mistook the model and law graduate for an intruder.
The trial earlier this month heard that a hollow-point bullet fired by Pistorius likely killed Steenkamp almost instantly.
Pistorius has pleaded not guilty to murder and firearms charges.
On Tuesday, the sprinter's chief defense lawyer argued that police photographs of the blood-spattered scene indicated that evidence was moved during the investigation.
The trial continues.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.
First published March 19 2014, 2:01 AM