TODAY   |  March 19, 2014

Expert: Steenkamp shot in ‘defensive’ position

A ballistics expert at athlete Oscar Pistorius’ murder trial said the athlete’s girlfriend, Reeva Steenkamp, was in a “defensive” position when shot, evidence that could be a major blow to the defense. NBC national investigative correspondent Jeff Rossen reports.

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This content comes from Closed Captioning that was broadcast along with this program.

>> in a bit. we begin this half hour with the latest twists and turns in the murder trial of oscar pistorius . let's get to jeff rossen . jeff, good morning to you.

>> hey, savannah, good morning to you. it could be one of the biggest days in court yet, and the most damaging testimony yet against as car pistorius. a crime scene expert saying reeva was in a defensive position, a position like this inside the bathroom when she was shot and that the bullet that killed her likely came at the end of the shooting, which means she may have been screaming before she died. oscar pistorius could barely stand to listen today, head in hands, reeva steenkamp's family emotional, too, of course, as this ballistics expert revealed his bombshell conclusions. what really happened that night in oscar 's house.

>> holding the firearm --

>> oscar says it was all an accident, he mistook reeva for an intruder, that she must have been going to the bathroom . but this expert refuted that today.

>> i tried -- but the wound on the hip, the too low for that. how i came to the conclusion that most probablily the wound on the hip was when she was in a standing position between the door and the toilet seat.

>> even more disturbing, he says reeva was trying to protect herself.

>> if you look at the position -- the defensive position, it's like this position. the wound on her left hand fell between the two fingers, separated here and she was facing down. it also penetrated.

>> reporter: then there are the bullets. oscar used bullets known for deep impact.

>> you get maximum wounding from this type of ammunition. this is how it opens up. now, these are the two bullets fired.

>> oscar 's defense team fired back giving alternate theorys, one of them, that the injuries didn't come from the bullets but rather falling on to the magazine rack.

>> caused by the magazine rack, your theory would not be correct.

>> my lady, i still say i'm sticking to my theory.

>> how damaging was this for oscar today?

>> the testimony today was very damaging to the defense. the expert did not crack under the pressure and painted a picture of reeva's cowering for her life in the corner.

>> can they come back from this?

>> perhaps with their experts, but it's going to be difficult.

>> reporter: also this morning, we are getting a closer look inside oscar pistorius ' life. a police tech expert took the stand today. he analyzed oscar 's ipad. in the days before the shooting, the search history on those ipads includes luxury cars and free pornography. prosecutors announced they need more time, they need to postpone this trial until monday to consult with their witnesses, matt and savannah, saying they plan to rest their case early next week and then it's oscar 's turn.