Pretoria: The prosecutor in the murder trial of Oscar Pistorius ended his five-day cross-examination of the double amputee track athlete on Tuesday, with a stark summary of how he shot his girlfriend, insisting he killed her deliberately after an argument.
“You fired four shots through the door, whilst knowing that she was standing behind the door,” said prosecutor Gerrie Nel, known in South Africa as “The Pitbull” for his hectoring style of questioning. “She was locked into the bathroom. You armed yourself with the sole purpose of shooting and killing her.”
“That is not true,” said 27-year-old Pistorius, who faces life in prison if convicted of murder. Pistorius has broken down in tears on many occasions during the questioning, and at one point retched into a bucket on the witness stand, after being shown grisly pictures of Reeva Steenkamp after the shooting on Valentine’s Day last year.
He insists he killed the 29-year-old accidentally, after mistaking her for an intruder hiding behind a closed toilet door.
On Tuesday, he told the court he had pulled the trigger without thinking, after hearing a noise behind the door, out of terror and fear that his and Steenkamp’s lives were in danger. “I was extremely fearful, overcome with a sense of terror and vulnerability,” said Pistorius, whose lower legs were amputated as a baby.
“I didn’t think about pulling the trigger, as soon as I heard the noise, before I could think about it, I pulled the trigger.” The athlete’s voice quivered as he recounted how he was “overcome with terror and despair” on finding her bloodied body slumped against the toilet.
“I was broken, I was overcome, filled with sadness,” he told Judge Thokozile Masipa, adding he urged Steenkamp to hold on while he sought help from neighbours at his high security Pretoria residence.