David Bain's younger brother, Stephen, appeared to fight his killer even as he bled heavily from a bullet wound, while other family members may have survived for a time after they were shot.
The fatal injuries to Bain's parents and three siblings were outlined by a pathologist yesterday as graphic images of the dead were shown to the High Court at Christchurch.
Bain, 37, on trial for murdering all five of his family members, avoided looking at the video screens as the images of his family were displayed.
Pathologist Alexander Dempster yesterday described a bloody struggle in which one bullet fired at Stephen seemed to travel straight through his left hand, before grazing his head and ending up embedded in his pillow.
"I think that would have probably accounted for a lot of the blood present at the scene."
Stephen might have fought on, but then appeared to have had his own T-shirt used against him.
"He has been effectively strangled, I would have thought most probably to the point of being incapable of continuing the fight, and has then been shot finally with a bullet though the top of the head."
A gunshot wound, 5mm in diameter, was found in the top of Stephen's skull and was most likely to have been fired in a downwards direction when he was "semi-upright".
David's sister Laniet, 18, suffered three gunshot wounds as she lay in bed.
The first shot went through her cheek, under her brain, and might have left her still conscious. Blood on her hand suggested she might have checked what had happened, Dr Dempster said.
The second bullet wound was above her left ear, and the third on top of her skull, which Dr Dempster described as "extraordinarily large"at 15mm diameter.
He thought the rifle's silencer might have pressed right against her scalp.
Dr Dempster said he would be surprised if Laniet lived for any time after these wounds, but it was possible. Gurgling sounds could have been heard as she inhaled fluids that obstructed her airway.
This is considered important because of a previous statement by Bain that he heard Laniet gurgling after returning home from his paper run on the day of the killings.
Bain's sister Arawa, 19, was found on the floor of her bedroom with a gunshot wound in the right side of her forehead that probably incapacitated her immediately.
"She may have continued to breathe for some time, but only for a short time."
Bain's mother, Margaret, 50, was found dead on her waterbed with a gunshot probably fired through her eyelid as she slept. An indentation in her duvet might have been left by the killer's knee as he got into position to fire, Dr Dempster said.
"She survived long enough to breathe for a little while ... but probably not more than few minutes."
Bain's lawyers argue that his father, Robin, shot the rest of the family before turning the rifle on himself.
Bain's defence team have already accused a policeman of planting evidence, and yesterday the prosecution responded by recalling a witness.
Detective Jacques Legros said he worked closely on the case with Detective Sergeant Milton Weir and would have reported it immediately if he saw Mr Weir plant a spectacle lens in the bedroom of Stephen, 14.
Mr Legros told the court he was "basically working shoulder to shoulder" with Mr Weir when the spectacle lens was found that the Crown says came from David Bain during the struggle with Stephen.
He would not have stood for it if Mr Weir had planted the lens.
"I would have no problem of denouncing him, so to speak."
But asked by Bain's lawyer, Helen Cull, QC, if he could rule out that Mr Weir planted the lens when he was not there, Mr Legros said: "I can't exclude it 100 per cent. But I have worked with ... Milton Weir for a period of time and I don't believe he would have stooped that low."