Kimberley – The mystery of the unknown fingerprint on a cooldrink glass outside the Griquatown farm murder house has likely been solved, the Northern Cape High Court heard on Tuesday.
“There is a reasonable possibility that the print on the glass was of Marthella Steenkamp,” fingerprint expert Phillip Bekker told the court.
Judge President Frans Kgomo was hearing evidence in the trial of a 17-year-old youth accused of killing Northern Cape farmer Deon Steenkamp, 44, his wife Christel, 43, and their daughter Marthella, 14, on their farm Naauwhoek, near Griquatown, on April 6, 2012.
Warrant Officer Phillip Bekker, of the crime scene unit and laboratory in Port Elizabeth, painstakingly testified on Tuesday afternoon to the methods of fingerprint analysis used to come to his conclusion. Earlier in the case the fingerprint on the cooldrink glass, found near the farm house’s back door, remained a mystery.
Investigators had no comparable fingerprint on record to identify the prints.
Investigators also indicated that police could not find any record of the girl’s fingerprints in the state’s record system.
On Tuesday, the court was told police seized a set of Marthella’s schoolbooks to look for identifiable fingerprints.
Bekker testified that his analysis of prints on school material and the glass indicated the girl held the glass.
“The prints point to each other, the normal position for holding a glass in the left hand.”
Bekker told Kgomo the fingerprints on the glass were those of a child or small adult. He asked the judge to hold his thumb over a print for measure.
“It’s smaller (the lifted print),” said Kgomo.
There was no sign of any adult prints on the glass. Bekker said even though he was able to only get five identifiable marks of a fingerprint on the glass, it was a reasonable possibility the Steenkamp daughter drank from the glass.
Seven identifiable points on a fingerprint was the standard practice in South Africa.
Defence lawyers indicated they would only be able to cross-examine Bekker after their expert looked at the evidence on Tuesday night.
On Tuesday, defence counsel William Coetzee did not cross-examine two of the State’s other expert witnesses.
They were DNA expert Lieutenant Cicilia Janse van Rensburg and police ballistic expert, Warrant Officer Nosamose Nhlapo.
Janse van Rensburg testified to DNA tests done on the two firearms used in the crime, and various clothing items the victims and the accused had worn.
Nhlapo told the court evidence indicated that several shots at the murder scene were fired from inside the house.
Damage to the wooden double door of the kitchen was from a .357 revolver fired inside the house, Nhlapo said.
Items of the victims’ clothing had tested negative for propellant residue.
Nhlapo said there could be many reasons for this, such as their being outside the range for propellant residue to settle.
The trial continues.