Pistorius could take stand next week

PRETORIA - The prosecution in the Oscar Pistorius murder case expects to rest early next week, prosecutor Gerrie Nel announced unexpectedly on Wednesday.

Nel has only four or five more witnesses to call, he declared to the shock of the courtroom just before lunch on the 13th day of the trial.

He requested and got an adjournment until Monday to consider the state's position in the case.

The surprise move prompted questions about whether Nel was thinking about throwing in the towel, whether he had surprise new evidence to study, or whether the state's case was simply running ahead of schedule.

Pistorius, 27, could take the stand in his defense as early as next week if the case goes ahead as planned.

His legal team has the option of moving for the whole case to be thrown out -- or "discharged," in South African legal terminology -- once the prosecution rests.

But it's not clear that the defense has so completely rebutted the state's case that the judge would end it there.

Eighteen witnesses have testified for the prosecution in the 13 days since the trial began, including three on Wednesday.

The most dramatic testimony of the day came from police Capt. Christian Mangena, who testified that Pistorius' first shot hit Steenkamp in the hip, knocking her back onto a magazine rack, and that two other shots then hit her arm and head.

Pistorius admits firing the shots that killed his girlfriend but has pleaded not guilty to murder, saying he thought she was a burglar and he believed he was acting in self-defense.

He fired four shots through the door to the toilet room in his house in the middle of the night, probably killing her almost instantly with the shot to the head, according to the autopsy.

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