Pistorius murder trial: Unrelenting questions from the prosecutor
Gerald Imray, The Associated Press
Published Monday, April 14, 2014 1:27PM EDT
Last Updated Monday, April 14, 2014 6:00PM EDT
PRETORIA, South Africa -- The chief prosecutor in the Oscar Pistorius murder trial continued Monday to question nearly every aspect of the Olympian's story surrounding his fatal shooting of girlfriend Reeva Steenkamp.
Prosecutor Gerrie Nel asked Pistorius exactly what words he used when he claims he was shouting at a perceived intruder on Feb. 14, 2013, what the noise was that he said he heard that made him fire through a toilet door to kill Steenkamp, and how long he held on to his 9 mm pistol for after the shooting.
Nel said the questions would all show that the double-amputee runner's version of a mistaken killing "cannot be reasonably possibly true."
PISTORIUS' EXACT WORDS
Asked by Nel to repeat the exact words he used at the perceived intruders, Pistorius said he screamed at them to "get the (expletive) out my house." Pistorius paused before answering and sobbed after the words, causing the judge to call one of two unscheduled breaks Monday for the athlete becoming emotional. Nel said Pistorius did use those words, but to Steenkamp in the midst of a fight the prosecution maintains ended with Pistorius shooting his girlfriend multiple times through the door.
THE CRUCIAL NOISE
Pistorius said he heard "a wood abrasion noise" from inside the cubicle that he interpreted as an intruder opening the door to come out and attack him, causing him to shoot. In hindsight, Pistorius said, he must have heard Steenkamp moving a magazine rack inside the cubicle. Again, Nel said part of Pistorius' story was correct, but Pistorius heard the magazine holder being moved as Steenkamp fell back on it after he shot her the first time, and he even changed his aim to hit her with later shots as she fell.
"That's not correct," Pistorius said, claiming he couldn't hear anything after the first shot because his ears were ringing.
Pistorius testified he searched desperately for Steenkamp in the dark bedroom after the shooting, feeling across the bed, on the floor next to it and behind a curtain before realizing it might have been her in the toilet. Nel asked Pistorius why he didn't turn on the lights and also check to see if the bedroom door was open and if Steenkamp had fled that way as gunshots had been fired.
"It's one of the things that make your version unbelievable," Nel said. Pistorius responded that once he realized Steenkamp wasn't in the bedroom he feared it was her in the toilet.
Even after being unable to find Steenkamp, Pistorius has testified that he still wasn't absolutely certain that there weren't intruders in the cubicle. Prosecutor Nel said he could have checked the bathroom window to see if a ladder outside had been put up against it by intruders, as Pistorius said he initially thought. Pistorius said he didn't do that.
"My mind was with Reeva," Pistorius said. "Yes, it could still be an intruder but my mind was with Reeva."
Nel doubted that Pistorius would have held on to his cocked 9 mm pistol all the time while searching for Steenkamp in the bed, on the floor and behind the curtain, and then later when he opened the curtains and unlocked the balcony doors to scream for help -- all while walking uncertainly on his stumps. Pistorius said it happened, he just doesn't remember it clearly.
"My mind wasn't thinking about this gun in my hand," Pistorius said.
JEANS ON THE FLOOR
A blood-marked duvet and a pair of Steenkamp's jeans that the prosecution claims were found on the bedroom floor were signs of a fight, Nel said. The prosecutor said Steenkamp was a neat person and it was out of character that her jeans were strewn on the floor when the rest of her clothes were packed away in an overnight bag. He said the jeans showed she was getting dressed to leave because of the fight. Pistorius denied the fight, pointing out the jeans were inside out and had merely been taken off.
Pistorius conceded that he had no explanation for the fact that Steenkamp still had undigested food in her stomach eight hours after the athlete says they had dinner. Experts said that the stomach would normally be empty of food six hours after eating. Nel said the explanation was that Steenkamp ate much later, around 1 a.m. according to the state pathologist, because the couple was up late and arguing. Pistorius again denied the argument, but on the stomach contents he said: "I don't have an explanation."