Oscar Pistorius again broke down on the witness stand as prosecutor Gerrie Nel relentlessly quizzed him today about the precise details on the night he shot and killed girlfriend Reeva Steenkamp.
Pistorius, 27, is on trial in Pretoria, South Africa, accused of murder in the Valentine’s Day 2013 shooting. Pistorius says he mistook Steenkamp for an intruder.
Nel repeatedly questioned Pistorius about whether he intended to shoot at the perceived intruders behind the bathroom door, saying the athlete is changing his defense.
“My defense is I heard the noise, I didn’t have time to think, I fired out of fear,” Pistorius said.
Nel targeted that statement, explaining that the athlete’s account had changed from self-defense to involuntary action.
“I did not fire at Reeva,” Pistorius wailed.
As his sobbing continued, the court adjourned for a short time to allow him the chance to compose himself.
He could face 25 years to life in prison if found guilty.
During today’s cross-examination, Nel continued to assault Pistorius’ credibility, questioning several statements Pistorius made previously that were not in his bail application or his plea explanation, saying they are examples of how Pistorius tailors his evidence.
"You see Mr. Pistorius, it's getting more and more improbable. ... You're building a version that is so improbable that no one would ever believe you."
The prosecutor, known in South Africa as the “Bull Terrier” for his no-holds-barred approach to cross-examination, questioned Pistorius about hearing a sound coming from the bathroom, alleging that Pistorius heard Steenkamp fall against a magazine rack and used that sound to adjust his aim.
Pistorius broke down on the stand when Nel asked him to repeat his exact words the night of the shooting. “I screamed, ‘Get the f*** out of my house … get the f***out of my house,’” Pistorius said, weeping.
Nel also analyzed blood spatter from the crime scene, saying the blood came from Pistorius’ carrying the victim’s body. The two disagreed about the position of a duvet.
Nel argued that Steenkamp’s clothing was packed in an overnight bag, with only her jeans in the bedroom, a clue that the couple had been fighting. Pistorius was also steadfast that the couple last ate at 7 p.m., despite the discovery of food in Steenkamp’s system.
"If it was an intruder [behind the door], would it have been an accident?" Nel asked him.
"I think so, my lady," Pistorius said. "I blame myself for taking Reeva's life."
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- Reeva Steenkamp