Oscar Pistorius Has Taken The Stand To Give Crucial Testimony In His Defence

Throughout March it was up to the prosecution in The State vs Oscar Pistorius case to build a picture of Oscar Pistorius as a person, his relationship with Reeva Steenkamp and the night of her death. As of yesterday the defence has begun with Pistorius taking to the stand to recount his version of February the 14th, 2013.

During the first three days prosecutor Gerrie Nel, a noted hard-ass, called on neighbours who allegedly heard the sounds of an argument and a woman’s scream prior to gunshots (it was at this point the defence invoked the ‘Flanders Defence’). One such neighbour testified on the fourth day of the trial that he came over after hearing screams only to find Pistorius praying over Steenkamp’s body. After which he allegedly said to him: “I shot her. I thought she was a burglar. I shot her.”

On day five of the trial a security guard at the estate in which Pistorius lived testified that he told him “everything is fine” approximately five minutes after Steenkamp was shot.

The same day a former girlfriend of Pistorius also took to the stand and outlined an instance in which she remembered him shooting his gun out of his car in frustration after being pulled over by a policeman for speeding. She has also claimed that he used to wake her regularly in the middle of the night if he heard a noise and, of the insistence by the defence that Pistorius screams like a woman, she said: “That is not true – he sounds like a man.”

During day six a state pathologist testified that the contents of Steenkamp’s stomach suggested that she ate hours later than Pistorius’s account suggested. He also outlined the autopsy details and injuries sustained by Steenkamp; causing Oscar Pistorius to vomit in court.

Since then the WhatsApp messaging history between the couple has been examined, with the findings suggesting “ninety percent [of all the messages] were normal and loving conversations” but the remaining 10% painted Pistorius as the jealous boyfriend type.

After being postponed (due to the illness of an assessor) the trial has now resumed with the opening of the defence case. First up was Professor Jan Botha, a pathologist, who throughout his questioning by Pistorius’s defence counsel Barry Roux, contradicted the prosecutiosn evidence that Steenkamp was sitting on the magazine rack when the second shot struck her and that her autopsy suggested she had eaten two hours before death.

After Professor Botha was cross examined by Nel it was time for Pistorius to take the stand, he began with an apology to the Steenkamp family:

Pistorius went on to outline how he grew up very aware of crime: “Everyone in South Africa has been exposed to crime at some point. My mother had a lot of security concerns, we grew up in a family where my father wasn’t around much, she would often get scared at night, she would phone the police…
My mother had a pistol. She kept her firearm in a padded bag under her pillow.”

Moving forward ballistics experts will be called to testify that the four shots were in quick succession – two “double taps” – and will likely bring in an expert to explain the alleged internet connection on Pistorius’ phone an hour before the shooting, suggesting he was awake. Then it will be up to Pistorius’ legal team to convince Judge Thokozile Matilda Masipa that his upbringing, crime in South Africa, combined with the fact that he is a double amputee, meant that the shooting of Reeva Steenkamp was a reasonable act of self defence.

Image via Getty
via The Guardian