Stay Connected


Oscar Pistorius arrives at the high court in Pretoria, South Africa, Wednesday, April 9, 2014. Pistorius is charged with murder for the shooting death of his girlfriend Reeva Steenkamp on Valentine's Day in 2013. (AP Photo/Themba Hadebe)
File: In this Tuesday, Feb. 19, 2013 file photo a mourner holds a program with a photo of Reeva Steenkamp at her funeral in Port Elizabeth, South Africa.  A sobbing Oscar Pistorius refused to look at a photo of her bloodied head wounds while testifying at his murder trial Wednesday, April 9, 2014, turning away from the gruesome image as the prosecutor urged the star athlete to “take responsibility” for killing her. (AP Photo/Schalk van Zuydam, File) Mother of the late Reeva Steenkamp, June Steenkamp, left, is comforted by family lawyer Dup de Bruyn, as they listen to cross questioning of Oscar Pistorius, in court in Pretoria, South Africa, Wednesday, April 9, 2014. Pistorius is charged with the murder of his girlfriend Reeva Steenkamp, on Valentines Day in 2013. (AP Photo/Siphiwe Sibeko, Pool) Oscar Pistorius, leaves the high court in Pretoria, South Africa, Tuesday, April 8, 2014. Pistorius is charged with murder for the shooting death of his girlfriend, Reeva Steenkamp, on Valentines Day in 2013. (AP Photo/Themba Hadebe) Oscar Pistorius leaves the high court in Pretoria, South Africa, Wednesday, April 9, 2014. Pistorius is charged with murder for the shooting death of his girlfriend, Reeva Steenkamp, on Valentines Day in 2013. (AP Photo/Themba Hadebe) Sister of Oscar Pistorius, Aimee Pistorius, second from right, cries as she listens as her brother testifies in court in Pretoria, South Africa, Wednesday, April 9, 2014. Pistorius is charged with the murder of his girlfriend Reeva Steenkamp, on Valentines Day in 2013. (AP Photo/Siphiwe Sibeko, Pool) State prosecutor Gerrie Nel during cross questioning of Oscar Pistorius, in court in Pretoria, South Africa, Wednesday, April 9, 2014. Pistorius is charged with the murder of his girlfriend Reeva Steenkamp, on Valentines Day in 2013. (AP Photo/Siphiwe Sibeko, Pool) Sister of Oscar Pistorius, Aimee Pistorius, left, and aunt Lois Pistorius, right, listen as Oscar Pistorius testifies in court in Pretoria, South Africa, Wednesday, April 9, 2014. Pistorius is charged with the murder of his girlfriend Reeva Steenkamp, on Valentines Day in 2013. (AP Photo/Sydney Seshibedi, Pool) Oscar Pistorius leaves the high court in Pretoria, South Africa, Wednesday, April 9, 2014. Pistorius is charged with murder for shooting dead his girlfriend, Reeva Steenkamp, on Valentines Day in 2013. (AP Photo/Themba Hadebe) Defense lawyer Barry Roux, reacts to questions by state prosecutor, during cross-examination of Oscar Pistorius, in court in Pretoria, South Africa, Wednesday, April 9, 2014. Pistorius is charged with the murder of his girlfriend Reeva Steenkamp, on Valentines Day in 2013. (AP Photo/Siphiwe Sibeko, Pool) State prosecutor Gerrie Nel during cross questioning of Oscar Pistorius, in court in Pretoria, South Africa, Wednesday, April 9, 2014. Pistorius is charged with the 2013 murder of his girlfriend Reeva Steenkamp. (AP Photo/Siphiwe Sibeko, Pool)

Pistorius refuses to look at photo of dead lover


PRETORIA, South Africa — A shaken Oscar Pistorius refused to look at a gruesome photo of his slain girlfriend’s bloodied head on Wednesday, telling a prosecutor through tears, “I don’t have to look at a picture. I was there.”

“It’s time that you look at it,” chief prosecutor Gerrie Nel said during a fierce first day of cross-examination in which he doggedly pressed the double-amputee Olympian to “take responsibility” for killing Reeva Steenkamp.

The 27-year-old Pistorius is charged with premeditated murder in the Valentine’s Day 2013 shooting of Steenkamp, who was hit three times — in the head, arm and hip — as she cowered behind a locked toilet door. Pistorius says he shot the 29-year-old model and law school graduate by mistake, thinking she was a dangerous intruder.

Gasps could be heard in the courtroom from spectators, including the dead woman’s mother, June, when the police photo suddenly appeared on multiple TV screens showing Steenkamp’s head turned to the side, her blonde hair drenched in blood and a mass of tissue on the back and upper parts of her skull, her eyes closed.

Pistorius turned away and refused to look at the image, even as the prosecutor insisted he do so and face up to what he did.

“I will not look at a picture where I’m tormented by what I saw and felt that night,” Pistorius said, becoming distraught and breaking into sobs. “As I picked Reeva up, my fingers touched her head. I remember. I don’t have to look at a picture. I was there.”

Wednesday’s heated questioning began with the showing of a video, first broadcast on Sky News, of the star athlete firing a gun at a watermelon at a shooting range. Pistorius can be heard saying the melon was “softer than brains” as it exploded when the bullet hit, and calling the powerful .50-caliber handgun he was using a “zombie stopper.”

“You know the same happened to Reeva’s head,” Nel told Pistorius. “It exploded.”

“You killed her. You shot and killed her,” the prosecutor said. “Take responsibility for what you’ve done, Mr. Pistorius.”

Defense lawyer Barry Roux objected to the showing of the gun video, saying it was inadmissible character evidence and amounted to a legal “ambush” by the prosecution.

Nel also attempted to poke holes in Pistorius’ version of the fatal night, including his reversal of a claim in court documents a year ago that he went out onto a balcony at his home before the shooting. The runner now says he went to the edge of the balcony but did not step outside. The discrepancy could be significant because Pistorius says a noise in the bathroom alerted him to a possible intruder, which would have been harder to hear if he were outside.

Nel tried to pin Pistorius down on whether he meant to fire into the toilet door at a perceived intruder. Pistorius said he didn’t intend to shoot “anyone” and that he fired “before thinking” because he thought his life was in danger.

This prompted Nel to accuse him of weighing the legal implications of the question before answering.

Pistorius said he was merely trying to be careful with his answers because the stakes are high.

“My life is on the line,” he said, to which Nel retorted: “Reeva doesn’t have a life anymore, because of what you’ve done.”

Attempting to dismantle a sympathetic image of Pistorius the defense sought to create during three days of testimony, Nel pressed the athlete to explicitly acknowledge that he killed Steenkamp.

“I made a mistake,” Pistorius said.

“What was your mistake?” Nel shot back.

“I took Reeva’s life,” Pistorius said.

Nel also questioned the defense’s portrayal of Pistorius as a good role model. The prosecution depicts him as an angry hothead with a gun obsession.

The prosecutor asked Pistorius if people looked up to him as a sporting hero, if he would hide anything and if he lived by Christian principles.

“I’m here to tell the truth, I’m here to tell the truth as much as I can remember,” said Pistorius, who faces a possible prison term of 25 years to life if convicted of premeditated murder.

“I’m human. I have sins,” he added.

———

Torchia reported from Johannesburg.



Back to National
Top Stories of the Week

Man charged in March drug raid arrested again by Meriden …
MERIDEN — Police surveillance led to the arrest of two people on drug charges last week, including a 25-year-old city man previously arrested in March … more ...

Last copper beech planted by prominent Meriden industrialist cut down …
MERIDEN — The last of three European copper beech trees planted along Broad Street 150 years ago by prominent industrialist Jebediah Wilcox was cut down … more ...

Top 5 stories on MyRecordJournal.com this week …
Here are the top 5, most clicked stories on MyRecordJournal.com this week. Father of Southington teen killed in car crash helps others heal “I recently … more ...

Meriden man accused of “groping” co-worker in Cheshire …
CHESHIRE — A Meriden man accused of “groping” a co-worker was released on $10,000 bond and is due to appear in court next week, police … more ...

City market sold to Durham investor …
MERIDEN — The former George’s East Side Market and Deli on South Curtis Street sold to a Durham investor who plans to renovate the vacant … more ...

Comments