Oscar Pistorius‘ murder trial will go on break following Thursday’s session until May 5 after the judge honored a request from the chief prosecutor Wednesday.
Judge Thokozile Masipa granted an adjournment, allowing a member of the prosecution to attend to another case.
“At the time, it was not envisioned that this trial would run this long,” Masipa said in the Pretoria courtroom. Masipa will spend the break reading through some 2,000 pages of court records with her assessors. The trial will resume two days before South Africa’s national elections.
Pistorius, the first double amputee to run in the Olympics in 2012, faces 25 years to life in prison if convicted of premeditated murder of girlfriend Reeva Steenkamp.
Pistorius said he thought Steenkamp was an intruder when he shot through a locked bathroom door, hitting her four times on the early morning of Valentine’s Day 2013. The prosecution asserts he knowingly shot Steenkamp after an argument.
If not found guilty of premeditated murder, Pistorius could be convicted of culpable homicide, South Africa’s version of manslaughter for negligent killing.
The trial, originally scheduled for a March 3-20 window, concluded its 24th day with forensic analyst Roger Dixon in the witness box all of Wednesday.
Dixon continued testimony as the third of a possible 17 witnesses called by the defense, which expects to finish calling its witnesses by mid-May.
Its second witness, Pistorius, was cross-examined by chief prosecutor Gerrie Nel for five days, finishing Tuesday. Pistorius spent much of Wednesday covering his ears, sometimes retching, during testimony about Steenkamp’s wounds, according to courtroom reports.
Dixon testified that Steenkamp was standing close to the door when first shot, not straight on but at a slight angle, with an arm in front of her. He also talked about where bullets were found in Steenkamp’s body, her wounds and analyzed audio recordings played of a cricket bat striking a door and gunshots from 60m and 180m away.
Pistorius has said he knocked down the bathroom door with a cricket bat to find Steenkamp inside last year. The cricket bat sound has been argued that it’s similar to that of a gunshot.
Dixon was then cross-examined by Nel, who spent about three hours questioning Dixon’s qualifications and credentials as a witness.
The trial is expected to resume at 3:30 a.m. ET on Thursday for the last session before the two-week break.