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The Van Breda murder trial
Apparently, that halfhearted day on Monday was Day 23 as I see they are saying today is Day 24. 

Botha is back with a vengeance and we are in for a ride. 

Andre Hitchcock is on the stand again.

Advocate Botha: You told us last week that when you arrived at the scene on 27 January 2015, there had already been other officers there? And there had been various bloody footprints at the scene?
Hitchcock: Yes
Botha: Captain Joubert had also been on the scene. Looks like you forgot that he had also been taking photos. He is in one of the photos. 

Hitchcock then said that Joubert had been there for blood spatter. 

Botha then asked whether anyone else was in the house while the photos were being taken and the scene processed. However, Hitchcock said he can’t confirm if anyone else had been there. To which Botha replied that nobody should have been in the house while he documented the scene.

Hitchcock said Joubert and Captain Danie van der Westhuizen had been there to look at the blood spatter and bloody footprints. 

They then referred to photos of possible points of entry at the boundary wall and back gate, which Hitchcock did mark as possible points of entry. He said that he doesn’t know if the side gate was locked but the key was in the keyhole. 

Botha then refers to the open cupboard doors where touch DNA was taken. A photo shows a sealed and an unsealed evidence box. Hitchcock said it’s possible that it hadn’t been sealed at that time. Botha then asked for the outcome of the DNA evidence on the cupboard. Hitchcock said that the outcome does not get sent to them. 

Botha: Seals can’t just fall off, right?
Hitchcock: No.

Hitchcock said that he remembers collecting the evidence of the blood in the basin and the shower in the bathroom of the bedroom where the bodies were found. Botha then referred to photographic evidence that clearly shows Joubert taking the swabs. Botha said he gave Hitchcock the opportunity to say he does not remember or that he was unsure. Hitchcock conceded and said that no one is perfect and he made a mistake. 

Botha said that the chemical spray used to look for blood was a false positive for the shower, later determined by officer Nel. 

Botha then asked for the photos of the evidence kits number 113 – 117. Hitchcock then said it appears that it was not taken. Botha asked why they didn’t follow usual procedure. Hitchcock meekly said he can’t give a specific reason for this. 

There are also no photos of the sealed evidence bags after they were put in their boxes. There was also an exhibit number changed. Wrong address was used in one of his reports.

Hitchcock said no swabs were taken in any other bathrooms in the house.

Botha then showed two photos of the axe. Hitchcock said that the sharp end of the head was tested for blood. Hitchcock indicated that he tested for touch DNA. Botha said that the axe appeared to be the weapon, why not swab the blood? Hitchcock said he sent the axe to the lab but made note of the touch DNA. Hitchcock sent it to the lab, then to his office in Worcester for fingerprints and blood swabs.

Hitchcock can’t confirm if he lifted more than one spatter. He only took one swab from the head of the axe, and from the blunt side. But he can’t confirm how. 

Botha then asked whether Hitchcock can remember if between the when the video was recorded and the photos were taken if the knife was moved by anyone. Hitchcock said he definitely did not move it. 

Botha referred to a photo of the knife sticking out from under the bed. Hitchcock said he placed it on the bed and swabbed it. (this seems contradictive to me from what he just said) Botha then said but there would be DNA on the bed that would affect the knife. Hitchcock said it could. 

Hitchcock can’t say which one of the numerous droplets on the knife he swabbed. 

Botha then referred to mark on a door at the back of the house which looked like blood. Botha asked if they looked there for blood. Hitchcock said that they searched for everything they could find. (as vague as it comes.)

The state had further questioned which got postponed until tomorrow. Officer Lorraine Nel will be called as well as a DNA expert.

Wow the level of incompetence in this Hitchcock dude is astounding to say the least.

Day 25 was, I am sure, a very compelling day in court. Not so much by words but visually.

The 30-minute video Hitchcock took of the scene that greeted him that morning at 12 Goske Street was played in court. 

Advocate Botha objected to the video being played by the State as he said evidence had been tampered with between the time the video was taken and the photographs were taken, as well as the gruesome nature of the video, showing close-ups of the dead bodies of Martin, Rudi and Teresa. 

Judge Desai overruled the objection but he did clear the public gallery. The media was allowed to view the footage but were warned that they may not be graphic in their reporting. 

Henri had moved to another bench so as not to view the footage of his previous home on that morning.

Hitchcock’s recording showed bloody footprints and blood spatters in the entrance hall. The lounge seemed to look normal, with everyday things standing and lying around. Magazines and a laptop on tables, a handbag and a monopoly board. It all seems so normal until you remember what had happened. 

In the kitchen there were cigarettes and a lighter, a cordless phone and a cellphone were lying on the counter. Kitchen drawers were slightly open. Cigarette butts lay on the floor, seemingly burnt out on their own. A drop of blood was noted on the doorway leading to the pantry. 

The back door stood open, and items on a washing line could be seen. 

A perimeter inspection showed numerous first floor and second-floor windows open. Two blood droplets were shown on the boundary wall near the gate where the key was still in the keyhole. 

Back inside, Hitchcock moves toward the tiled stairs. There is blood spatter at the foot of the stairs next to a pair of shoes. As he continues up the stairs blood spatter is seen everywhere but the top few steps were completely covered in blood. 

At the top of the staircase, next to a bookshelf, Teresa lies on her stomach in a pool of blood, wearing a vest and underwear. 

Moving on to Henri and Rudi’s room, Martin’s body is collapsed over the bed closest to the door. The wall above the headboard is covered with blood spatters, as is the gray duvet and pillow on the bed that he lies on. 

At the end of the second bed, Rudi is seen on the floor with his feet towards the en-suite bathroom.

In the en-suite bathroom, Hitchcock has footage of the faeces in the toilet. Henri said in his plea explanation he had been busy passing his bowels when he heard the noises in the bedroom. 

There is footage of all the valuables still in the house. Various laptops and cellphones were left as they are. 

A variety of footprints were marked, but Botha pointed out that there were much more. Hitchcock said only those that were thought relevant were taken (38 pairs) 

Shoe print expert Captain Danie van der Westhuizen is next on the stand.

Not much happening here, now we wait for the next, hopefully thrilling update, come Tuesday

So today was apparently Day 25? These things are really confusing. 

But I have a section that was not available last week at the time of writing about the shoe prints.

Danie van der Westhuizen testified about the footprints found at the scene. 38 were taken and 36 were identified and accounted for – belonging to emergency services and officers. Danie said that he didn’t consider the other two to be real footprints as it could not really be said what they were. 

Now onto today’s trial. 

Candice Brown was on the stand. A ballistics expert, with a degree in Human Life Sciences and an Honors in Genetics. 

She was called to 12 Goske Street in January 2015 to examine impact marks at the scene. She compiled a report in February 2015.

To credit this to News 24, part of Candice’s report: “One piece of painted cement laying on the floor at front door entrance; one impact mark with damage caused by adjacent to the front entrance area.

One piece of painted cement on the staircase; an impact mark consistent with sharp-edged movement above staircase rail; powder particles, like cement powered particles on staircase rail.

A piece of tile fragment on the staircase with the same appearance of tile on staircase floor; impact damage and particles consistent with breakage damage on the 17th stair; impact damage consistent with a sharp edged tool movement in the tile area in the first bedroom.”

A piece of tile fragment on staircase floor lying in debris; one impact mark in the bedroom.

She said that they make replicas of marks with a rubber type substance to make a cast of it. She examined both the axe and the knife. 

Impact marks B, D, and H were caused by a sharp-edged tool. The right-hand area in the front entrance hall is marked as B. In terms of impact mark B, she couldn’t determine if the axe was the cause.

Candice Brown: “When looking at these marks I observed there was certainty of direction, the edge of the two walls was the weaker area of the wall structure, the marks had a beginning and an end, I could follow the course of the marks. In ballistics terms, we normally look at striated marks and indentations. When looking at those marks, there was definitely force applied to have made this controlled sharp edged tool impact mark.”

Advocate Galloway then referred to Henri’s plea bargain where he said he saw the attacker in the middle of the landing and threw the axe, not knowing where it landed or what it hit. 

Brown held up the axe and said that there is a quarter of a chance the axe might land on the sharp area or any of the other areas (butt, head and handle)

The impact on the landing was deep as the brick was exposed. Judge Desai asked if the throwing the axe could result in an unpredictable result? Brown said it is highly unlikely, possible but highly unlikely. 

There were about three uncontrolled impact marks. Galloway then asked what is the damage on the axe? Brown said that there was a little nick out of the metal at the top part of the blade edge. The metal was basically folded she said. She noticed some scrapings off the head of the axe on the green paint.  There were also chip marks at the rear pole area. 

Advocate Botha asked for matters to stand down to consult with his expert. Galloway didn’t object. Court resumes tomorrow.

Day 26 has clearly not garnered a lot of attention for the media as by 16:13 all I can find is a very unhelpful Times Live article. Not a stitch from News24 which I usually use for their live tweeting of the entire trial, but alas, it seems today not a single person pitched. 

Candice Brown was on the stand again, and from what I can gather, Brown and Combrink (for van Breda) went back and forth for a good hour and a half over a mark on one of the walls (not the one on the stairs) with Brown standing her ground and Combrink standing his, neither conceding. 

They then went back to debate the mark on the stairs. Brown said yesterday that the way Henri said he threw the axe in his plea explanation was “possible but highly unlikely”. Combrink went after her statement today saying that she did not do any calculations or experiments, asking her whether it was all then “thumbsuck”? 

Brown replied that the theory of throwing the axe was only put to her on Monday in court, and based on her official reports it was not thumbsuck.

Combrink asked her to share Newton’s Laws of Motion which she had referred to on Monday. Which she could do. Combrink then said that without knowing the velocity her statement has no meaning in this world. 

Brown responded and said that that is why she called it a possibility instead of ruling it out completely. She is sticking to her statement of “possible but highly unlikely” based on how she examined Mark D and her 14 years of experience. 

UPDATE: Matthys Combrink alluded to the fact that the axe shown in court is maybe not the axe everyone thinks it is. James Reade-Jahn remembers it being black but the family’s domestic worker, Precious, was the only one who testified that it is the same she saw in the scullery. 

Incredulously Judge Desai asked whether Combrink thinks there was another axe? To which he replied, “There was possibly more than one axe.” 

Combrink asked Brown if she had thrown the axe? Brown responded that that was not asked of her. The defence’s expert, Kobus Steyl, has thrown it a distance of 1.5m and it hit straight into the surface without spinning. 

Unfortunately for us, the trial has been postponed until 7 August.

Well I've grown bored of this entire case and I have a feeling many others feel the same. It's moving so slowly with very little real substance at this stage.

At this rate it's going to be a few more months

I see the views dropping, which is understandable, people are uniquely wired to search for the sensational - which this trial is not so far. I want to hear from Marli and I wish they'll decide to stream it already. Everything in this country is taking a lifetime.

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You really think they going to put Marli on the stand?

It hasn't been confirmed nor denied. And in a witness list of eighty or more I would expect Marli to be one of them. What if she does remember something? Even if she remembers an intruder or whether Henri did it. Or if she could attest to anything different from what Henri says.

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Wait what, eighty or more witnesses, jeebus, this trial is going to take 4 months then Sad

Earlier in the trial someone was called to the stand who was said to have been witness number 80 on the list.

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*me pokes carly*

Nothing new on the trial front?

Today the news broke that Henri won his battle in court against Media24 to NOT livestream the trial.

So be prepared to read my neverending updates.

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Sooooo I take it the trial has been delayed due to Media24 case?

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