Updates from Friday, April 11
Oscar Pistorius came up against a stern round of questioning from prosecutor Gerrie Nel on Friday, who continued his attempts to prove Pistorius knowingly murdered girlfriend Reeva Steenkamp.
Currently standing trial against a charge of premeditated murder, Pistorius claims he mistook Steenkamp for an intruder when he fired four shots through the toilet cubicle door.
Nel quizzed Pistorius on a series of key issues, not least the reason why he chose to confront the "intruder" rather than find Steenkamp and lead them both out of the bedroom. Nel also claimed Steenkamp would surely have responded when Pistorius was screaming at the perceived intruder.
You can follow the live stream right here (may now show in your territory):
Nel began Friday's session by conceding Pistorius had tried to contact the Steenkamp family to apologise to them prior to arriving in court.
Nel had earlier suggested to the contrary, but Steenkamp's mother supported Pistorius' view that he had tried to say sorry, per Sky News' Alex Crawford:
The Prosecution's first focus of the day was on past crimes suffered by Pistorius. Nel attempted to establish a lack of threat felt by the Paralympian on the estate in which he lived:
Nel quickly jumped on Pistorius, accusing him of "tailoring evidence" and changing his version from his original statement, per BBC News' Andrew Harding:
Nel also leapt on Pistorius over his recollection of whether he disabled the alarm before opening the door to Johan Stander, following the shooting of Steenkamp.
Pistorius said on Friday he disabled the alarm before he left the bedroom to go downstairs. Nel pointed out Pistorius had not testified about de-activating the alarm.
Pistorius claimed he was making mistakes because he was "tired," earning a reprimand from the judge:
Nel quizzed Pistorius on his claim that he was shot at back in 2008/09. Pistorius recalled many fine details about the incident, but could not recall who picked him up after the life-threatening incident.
Nel put it to Pistorius that he did not want to give a name because it was lie, which could be disproven:
Next Nel switched to an incident in 2012, when Pistorius had a confrontation with Quinton van der Burgh, whom he claims took his then-girlfriend Samantha Taylor overseas.
Pistorius said he remained calm with van der Burgh, but later ended his relationship with Taylor because she stuck up for van der Burgh, per Harding and EyeWitness News' Barry Bateman:
This led to a confrontation with van der Burgh's friend, Mark Batchelor:
Nel sharply switched back to the night of Steenkamp's death, ramping up the pressure on Pistorius in the witness box.
He focused first on the blue LED light that Pistorius claims kept him awake prior to him getting out of bed, with the aim of placing a pair of jeans over it.
The prosecuting lawyer quizzed Pistorius about how he couldn't see Steenkamp—as previously claimed—if the light was bright enough to keep him awake:
Nel asked Pistorius how he then heard the noise of a bathroom window being opened, but didn't hear Steenkamp get out of bed:
Nel then asked Pistorius why he didn't check with Steenkamp if she had heard the same noise:
Part of Pistorius' account says he placed the jeans on the floor, yet the jeans are sat on top of the duvet in police photos. Pistorius had said the duvet was on Steenkamp when he placed the jeans on the floor, and that police had moved the duvet to the floor.
However, according to the photos, police would have had to lift the jeans up to place the duvet underneath them:
Based on police photos, the images do not appear to support Pistorius' version, although Defence lawyer Barry Roux claimed it was "photo deception:"
Following an adjournment, Nel returned to photos of the fans at the side of the bed, claiming Pistorius would have run into the fans if he—as claimed—ran to the balcony to scream for help after shooting Steenkamp:
Upon resumption, key moments arrived.
Nel asked Pistorius why he had not mentioned in his bail application that he had spoken to Steenkamp before getting up to move the fan.
He also pointed out that if, as claimed, Pistorius' first thought was to protect Steenkamp, he would surely have asked her if she had heard the window being opened, and if she was OK:
Nel asks why he went toward the danger (the intruder) if he was "vulnerable" on his stumps:
Nel then asked if Pistorius shouted loudly at the "intruders" to get out. Pistorius said he did shout very loudly, before staying quiet when he approached the bathroom in order not to give his position away.
Pistorius confirmed he heard the toilet door close, and then he saw that the window was open and the door was closed. During his description, he contradicted himself about the door being kicked closed, allowing Nel to pounce:
Finally, Nel attempted to point out that, at the time Pistorius said he screamed toward the "intruder," Steenkamp was three metres away from him in the same room. She didn't respond. Nel asked why?
He also highlighted that Pistorius claimed Steenkamp did not scream after being hit by the first bullet. Nel questioned how Pistorius would know this when he said his ears blocked out all noise because they were ringing:
Court adjourned until Monday.
Pistorius, who claims he mistook Steenkamp for a burglar before shooting her four times, faced a barrage of direct questions from Nel on Thursday, who has proven a forceful presence in the courtroom.
The calculated interrogator began by questioning Pistorius' relationship with Steenkamp. He focused on phone messages in which Steenkamp claimed she was repeatedly picked on by the South African athlete, reported by Alex Crawford of Sky News:
Nel proceeded to ask Pistorius whether he suffered "tantrums" around Steenkamp. The prosecutor built on assertions made by the accused's former girlfriend Samantha Taylor, who previously told court he "screamed" at her. Crawford provided the details:
Nel turned his attention to the moment in which Pistorius fired his gun inside a restaurant. Despite a firearms expert already confirming there is no way the weapon could have shot without having its trigger pulled, Pistorius claimed he didn't expect to have a loaded gun passed his way, per Barry Bateman of Eyewitness News and Andrew Harding of BBC News:
After a brief adjournment, Nel honed in on the gun magazine Pistorius kept in a safe. Pistorius suggested he housed this item for his father, who refused to make a statement, a potentially important decision.
The accused then claimed he and his father share a "distant" relationship, per Jasmine Coleman and Richard Irvine-Brown of BBC News. Nel switched the emphasis to defence lawyer Barry Roux, whom Pistorius appeared to blame when being grilled about his illegal possession of his father's ammunition, per Crawford:
Pistorius admitted to also keeping a magazine in his bedside draw, another illegal act. Nel directly asked the accused if he would plead guilty after this moment, per Harding:
After discussing how many shots were fired on the night of Steenkamp's death, and in what fashion, Pistorius admitted he had no reason to shoot through his bathroom door, covered by Crawford:
Thursday's final key point returned attention to the fans that were supposedly on Pistorius' balcony. He previously claimed he moved them from outside and into the bedroom, potentially at the moment Steenkamp headed to the bathroom.
Nel asked why Pistorius didn't see her move, reported by Crawford:
Pistorius then admitted that, judging by the images shown, he couldn't have closed the balcony curtains or door, as originally suggested. He blamed police interference, aligning his story with accusations made by Roux earlier in the trial, per Crawford:
The day's proceedings came to a close shortly after this discussion. Nel's examination continues to uncover discrepancies that could heavily influence the outcome of the trial. Pistorius' suggestion that he had no reason to shoot is likely to be key, as he struggles to deal with Nel's prosecution.
Friday's events are sure to build on the intricate, yet extremely important details of the day before.