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Oscar Pistorius’ lawyer has said in closing remarks that prosecutors have twisted the facts to discredit the South African athlete in his murder trial.
Barry Roux said Oscar Pistorius should have faced a lesser charge of culpable homicide over the shooting of his girlfriend Reeva Steenkamp.
Oscar Pistorius, 27, denies prosecution claims that he deliberately shot Reeva Steenkamp.
Barry Roux conceded that he should be found guilty for negligence for discharging a firearm in a restaurant.
Oscar Pistorius pleaded not guilty to all the charges he faces, including two counts of shooting a firearm in public and the illegal possession of ammunition.
In the early hours of Valentine’s Day in 2013, Oscar Pistorius says he mistook his girlfriend – a model and law graduate – for an intruder when he shot her through a toilet door in his home in South Africa’s capital, Pretoria.
Oscar Pistorius denies prosecution claims that he deliberately shot Reeva Steenkamp
Once concluding arguments are finished, Judge Thokozile Matilda Masipa is expected to adjourn the trial to consider her ruling. Analysts say this process could take between a week and a month as she has 4,000 pages of evidence to consider.
The prosecution is trying to characterize Oscar Pistorius as a “hothead” who intentionally killed Reeva Steenkamp after an argument.
His defense team wants to portray him as having a heightened response to perceived danger due to his disability and background.
In court on Friday, Barry Roux said growing up with a disability conditioned Oscar Pistorius always to confront danger because he could not flee.
He described it as a “slow burn” of insecurities and compared it to an abused woman shooting her abuser.
Barry Roux also dealt with phone data evidence on the night of the shooting to show that the timeline of events fits the defense’s argument that Oscar Pistorius fired the shots at the toilet door first on his stumps.
Realizing he had shot Reeva Steenkamp by mistake, the defense says Oscar Pistorius put on his prosthetics and used a cricket bat to knock down the door at 03.17 local time – five minutes after he says shots were fired.
The prosecution alleges that the noises heard at 03.17 were the shots being fired.
Barry Roux said analysis of the evidence showed there was anxious high-pitched screaming followed by shouts of “help, help, help” between the two sounds, which near neighbors say were made by a man, not a woman as other witnesses testified.
Earlier, the defense said that there had been “no respect for the crime scene”, saying the state’s case was discredited as Oscar Pistorius’ house was tampered with inadvertently, with a fan and duvet being moved.
State prosecutor Gerrie Nel, in his closing statement on Thursday, argued the athlete “cannot escape” a murder conviction, accusing him of being a “deceitful witness” who told the court a “snowball of lies”.
Known as the “bull terrier”, prosecutor Gerrie Nel said the athlete’s lawyers had presented two lines of defense that “can never be reconciled”.
Oscar Pistorius said he had fired both involuntarily and also out of fear, Gerrie Nel argued, insisting the court had to choose only one of his defenses.
Last month, a psychiatric report said Oscar Pistorius had post-traumatic stress disorder but no mental illness that could prevent him being held criminally responsible for his actions.
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At the start of closing arguments in his murder trial, Oscar Pistorius has been accused of being a “deceitful witness” who dropped the “baton of truth”.
Prosecutor Gerrie Nel began his concluding remarks on Thursday, with the defense due to follow on Friday.
Oscar Pistorius denies murdering his girlfriend Reeva Steenkamp.
The South African athlete says he mistook her for an intruder, but the prosecution says he deliberately shot her after a row.
Reeva Steenkamp was killed at Oscar Pistorius’ home in Pretoria on February 14, 2013.
The long-running trial was adjourned last month ahead of closing arguments.
Oscar Pistorius denies murdering his girlfriend Reeva Steenkamp (photo Reuters)
At the court in Pretoria, Gerrie Nel began his closing argument by accusing the athlete’s lawyers of presenting two lines of defense that “can never be reconciled”.
Oscar Pistorius, 27, said he had fired both involuntarily and also out of fear, Gerrie Nel argued, insisting the court had to choose only one of his defenses.
He said the court “should have no difficulty in rejecting” the athlete’s version of events because it was “devoid of any truth”.
Gerrie Nel also attacked Oscar Pistorius for presenting himself as “a victim of circumstance”.
Oscar Pistorius’ estranged father, Henke, was in the packed courtroom for the first time during the trial. It was also the first time that Barry Steenkamp, Reeva’s father, had attended.
The prosecution is convinced Oscar Pistorius gave conflicting accounts of how and why the double amputee shot Reeva Steenkamp four times through his toilet door.
Judge Thokozile Masipa is now likely to intervene more and her questions could well provide hints about a future verdict.
Oscar Pistorius’s lawyer, Barry Roux, will give his closing remarks after Gerrie Nel, in what correspondents say is the final showdown between two of South Africa’s top legal minds.
The judge is expected to adjourn the trial after hearing the arguments to consider her ruling, a process that analysts say will take in between a week to a month.
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Oscar Pistorius has been greatly affected by his disability, a sports doctor has told his murder trial.
Dr. Wayne Derman told the court in Pretoria that Oscar Pistorius suffered “significant stress and anxiety”.
Oscar Pistorius, 27, says he shot Reeva Steenkamp after mistaking her for an intruder in their house last year.
The prosecution argues that the Paralympic champion killed his girlfriend deliberately after a row.
At issue is Oscar Pistorius’ state of mind at the time of the shooting.
Oscar Pistorius has a lifetime vulnerability as a result of his disability
On Monday, the court heard he was not suffering from a mental disorder when he shot Reeva Steenkamp.
According to a psychiatrists’ report, Oscar Pistorius is capable of distinguishing between right and wrong and so should bear criminal responsibility for his actions.
The court also heard a psychologist’s assessment on Wednesday which found that Oscar Pistorius had PTSD since the shooting and could be a suicide risk.
It found he was mourning Reeva Steenkamp, a model and law graduate.
Oscar Pistorius’ lawyer, Barry Roux, has argued that his client would react more sharply to fear than an able-bodied person would because of the anxiety caused by his disability.
Wayne Derman, a professor of sports and exercise medicine at the University of Cape Town, was the final witness called by the defense.
Dr. Wayne Derman said Oscar Pistorius had had a “lifetime of real and learnt vulnerability” as a result of his disability. Disability, he said, had a “knock-on” effect through one’s entire life.
“Disability never sleeps.”
Oscar Pistorius, the professor added, also had a “profound fear of crime”.
The athlete, Wayne Derman said, had developed an “exaggerated fight response” and this was responsible for the “horrific tragedy” of Reeva Steenkamp’s death.
Oscar Pistorius says he fired multiple shots into a toilet cubicle where Reeva Steenkamp was, while in a state of panic.
The athlete and Reeva Steenkamp, 29, had been dating for about three months before the shooting.
Oscar Pistorius has often displayed his emotions during the trial, including breaking down in tears in court.
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According to a psychologist’s report submitted at Oscar Pistorius’ murder trial, the athlete has post-traumatic stress disorder and could be a suicide risk.
The report, read by Oscar Pistorius’ defense lawyer, said he was mourning his girlfriend Reeva Steenkamp.
On Monday, the court heard that Oscar Pistorius, 27, was not suffering from a mental disorder when he shot Reeva Steenkamp.
The Paralympic champion denies murder, saying he killed Reeva Steenkamp by mistake when fearing there was an intruder in the house.
Oscar Pistorius was not suffering from a mental disorder when he shot Reeva Steenkamp (photo EMPICS)
The prosecution says the Olympic athlete deliberately killed Reeva Steenkamp, a model and law graduate, after the couple had an argument.
Both prosecution and defense have accepted the findings of the psychologist’s report.
Two reports – one by a psychologist and another by three psychiatrists – were drawn up after a month of tests to evaluate the athlete’s state of mind.
The prosecution on Monday noted that the psychiatrists’ report said Oscar Pistorius, 27, was capable of distinguishing between right and wrong and so should bear criminal responsibility for his actions.
Defense lawyer Barry Roux on Wednesday quoted the second evaluation as saying that Oscar Pistorius, a double-amputee, has a history of feeling insecure and vulnerable, especially without his prosthetic legs.
It said he was likely to react more sharply to fear than an able-bodied person would.
“Should he not receive proper clinical care, his condition is likely to worsen and increase the risks for suicide,” Barry Roux quoted the report as saying.
It also said he did not show signs of narcissism or explosive rage, which is usually seen in men who are abusive to their partners.
The court has previously heard that Reeva Steenkamp had sent the athlete a message saying: “I’m scared of you sometimes.”
Final defense witness Wayne Derman, professor of sports and exercise medicine at the University of Cape Town, said Oscar Pistorius was an anxious individual, with hand tremors and chronic problems with the stumps of his legs.
Earlier, Oscar Pistorius’ manager was cross-examined, with prosecutor Gerrie Nel concentrating on the sprinter’s reported rows with roommate Arnu Fourie and his love life.
On Tuesday, Peet van Zyl said Oscar Pistorius had become a “global icon” at the 2012 London Olympics and could have increased his income five or six times.
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Oscar Pistorius did not have a mental disorder when he killed Reeva Steenkamp, a psychological report said as his murder trial resumed in Pretoria.
The report was presented following an evaluation into his mental health.
Oscar Pistorius’ defense team has argued he was suffering from an anxiety disorder at the time of the shooting.
Oscar Pistorius did not have a mental disorder when he killed Reeva Steenkamp
Both prosecution and defense have accepted the results of the report.
The defense team is now hearing from Dr. Gerry Versfeld, who amputated Oscar Pistorius’ legs when he was just 11 months old.
Oscar Pistorius had been born without the fibulas in both of his legs but went on to become an Olympic athlete.
Dr. Gerry Versfeld is testifying about the impact of the disability on Oscar Pistorius, now 27, and to what extent he can walk without his prosthetic legs.
The defense is expected to finish presenting its evidence in the next few days.
Reeva Steenkamp, a 29-year-old model and law graduate, was shot through a toilet door at Oscar Pistorius’ house in Pretoria on Valentine’s Day last year.
The couple had been dating for three months.
“Mr. Pistorius did not suffer from a mental illness or defect that would have rendered him criminally not responsible for the offence charged,” said state prosecutor Gerrie Nel, reading from the psychologist report.
The prosecution requested the evaluation after a defense witness said the double amputee was suffering from Generalized Anxiety Disorder (Gad).
Oscar Pistorius underwent a month of tests as an outpatient at Weskoppies psychiatric hospital in Pretoria.
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Prosecutor Gerrie Nel in the trial of Oscar Pistorius has formally requested that he undergo a mental observation.
Gerrie Nel made the application after forensic psychiatrist Merryll Vorster said the Olympic double amputee was “a danger to society”.
Judge Thokozile Masipa said she would announce her decision on Wednesday.
Oscar Pistorius denies intentionally killing his girlfriend Reeva Steenkamp on Valentine’s Day last year.
The Paralympic champion says he accidentally shot Reeva Steenkamp through the toilet door in a state of panic, mistaking the 29-year-old model and law graduate for an intruder.
Oscar Pistorius may spend up to 30 days in a state mental health institution for observation and assessment of his mental health
The court has adjourned until Wednesday.
The prosecution accused the defense on Tuesday of changing its plea – from putative self-defense to a psychiatric disorder.
Gerrie Nel said that a “psychiatric evaluation was essential” and it was in the interests of justice for the accused to be referred.
The defense is vigorously resisting the prosecution move, which it argues is “manifestly absurd”.
Dr. Merryll Vorster told the court earlier that she would not say that Oscar Pistorius had “a mental illness” and that he was “still able to function at high level as an athlete and still able to socialize”.
But she said that people with Generalized Anxiety Disorders (GADs) like Oscar Pistorius probably should not have firearms.
She said that GAD would not “render you unfit to stand trial”.
On Monday Dr. Merryll Vorster said that the athlete had had an anxiety disorder since childhood and was “anxious” about violent crime.
His actions on Valentine’s Day last year “should be seen in context of his anxiety”, she said.
If the prosecution request is granted, Oscar Pistorius may spend up to 30 days in a state mental health institution for observation and assessment of his mental health.
The athlete has described the prosecution move as “a joke”, insisting that Monday’s evidence from Dr. Merryll Vorster had “gone well”.
But the prosecution argues that her testimony is further proof that the athlete is changing his defense.
Court sources have indicated that it is unlikely that Judge Thokozile Masipa will grant the prosecution its request.
Dr. Merryll Vorster said on Monday that the reactions of Oscar Pistorius in the early hours of 14 February 2013 would have been different to that of a “normal, able-bodied person without generalized anxiety disorder”.
She said that Oscar Pistorius was more likely to respond to any threat with “fight” rather than “flight”.
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Forensic tests carried out by expert Roger Dixon for Oscar Pistorius’ murder trial have been rigorously challenged by state prosecutor Gerrie Nel in South Africa.
Roger Dixon’s sequence for the shots that killed Reeva Steenkamp contradicts that of a police ballistics witness and pathologist.
Oscar Pistorius, 27, denies intentionally killing Reeva Steenkamp in the early hours of Valentine’s Day last year.
He says he fired in fear at a toilet door, mistaking her for an intruder.
The prosecution says the 29-year-old model and law graduate was deliberately killed after the couple had an argument.
Oscar Pistorius faces 25 years to life in prison if convicted of premeditated murder.
The trial has now adjourned for a break and will reconvene on Monday May 5.
Before the questioning got under way on Thursday, Judge Thokozile Masipa warned those watching the televised proceedings in an overflow court next door about their “unruly” behavior.
Judge Thokozile Masipa said she had been made aware that there had been shouting and cheering at times.
Roger Dixon’s sequence for the shots that killed Reeva Steenkamp contradicts that of a police ballistics witness and pathologist
“It is not an entertainment place,” she said.
The prosecutor Gerrie Nel then continued his cross examination of Roger Dixon, a defense witness, who says he believes Reeva Steenkamp was standing at an angle to the door and that all four bullets hit her as she fell to the ground.
Earlier in the trial, ballistics expert Captain Christiaan Mangena said he believed Reeva Steenkamp was standing up facing the closed door when she was hit in the right hip.
He said she then fell back on to a magazine rack next to the toilet before three more bullets were fired at the door, one of which missed her.
Roger Dixon’s testimony challenges the state’s version that Reeva Steenkamp would have had time to scream after the first bullet and that Oscar Pistorius then changed aim and continued firing.
The forensic expert also told the court about light tests carried out in Oscar Pistorius’ bedroom and sound tests of a cricket bat striking a door and bullets hitting a door.
However, Gerrie Nel has sought to cast doubt on Roger Dixon’s credibility and qualifications as a forensics witness, suggesting some of the tests were amateurish.
He criticized him for not using a model the same height as Oscar Pistorius when on his stumps in a photograph to illustrate what neighbors would have been able to see through the bathroom window at night.
In the photograph a man was kneeling in front of the window.
“It is something I omitted. I overlooked it at the time,” said Roger Dixon, a geologist and university lecturer who worked as head of materials analysis at a police forensic laboratory in Pretoria for 18 years until 2012.
Gerrie Nel also sought to prove that he was out of his depth when he was testifying about marks on Reeva Steenkamp’s body.
He had identified one as a bruise which other pathologists had not, Gerrie Nel said.
At one stage on Wednesday Roger Dixon used the phrase “in my layman’s understanding”.
“Now you call yourself a layman. You see how irresponsible it is to make inferences that aren’t in your area of expertise,” the prosecutor replied.
Before the court adjourned, he was re-examined by defense lawyer Barry Roux and described how an official at the shooting range, where the sound tests were carried out, mistook the sound of the cricket bat striking the door for gunshots.
Roger Dixon took the stand on Tuesday after seven days of testimony from Oscar Pistorius came to an end with him reading a Valentine’s Day card from Reeva Steenkamp.
If Oscar Pistorius is acquitted of murder, the court must consider an alternative charge of culpable homicide, for which he could receive about 15 years in prison.
He also faces charges of illegally firing a gun in public and of illegally possessing ammunition, both of which he denies.
There are no juries at trials in South Africa, and his fate will be decided by the judge, assisted by two assessors.
Oscar Pistorius is known as the “Blade Runner” because of the carbon-fibre prosthetics he uses on the track.
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Oscar Pistorius has told his murder trial in Pretoria he was “heartbroken” when he saw the body of his girlfriend Reeva Steenkamp.
“I crouched down over her… and I checked to see if she was breathing or if she had a pulse,” the athlete said.
The prosecution has now finished five days of grueling cross-examination, which has seen the athlete break down on several occasions.
Oscar Pistorius, 27, denies murder, saying he mistook his girlfriend for an intruder.
The prosecution says Oscar Pistorius deliberately shot dead Reeva Steenkamp after the couple had had an argument and has suggested he is staging his emotional outbursts.
He faces 25 years to life in prison if convicted of premeditated murder.
Before his cross-examination ended, the court was shown a photograph of the toilet covered in blood where Reeva Steenkamp was shot in February 2013.
Oscar Pistorius said that after shooting through the toilet door at what he thought were intruders, he realized he may have mistakenly killed his girlfriend, a 29-year-old model and law graduate.
He said he tried to break down the door with his shoulder, before using a cricket bat, all the time screaming in panic.
Oscar Pistorius has told his murder trial in Pretoria he was “heartbroken” when he saw the body of his girlfriend Reeva Steenkamp
But the double-amputee sprinter said he stopped screaming when he finally opened the door and saw the body.
When asked why, Oscar Pistorius replied, his voice trembling with emotion: “I was heartbroken… overcome with sadness.”
Prosecutor Gerrie Nel said the athlete had deliberately killed his girlfriend following an argument.
“You fired four shots through the door whilst knowing that she was standing behind the door. She was locked into the bathroom and you armed yourself with the sole purpose of shooting and killing her,” he said.
Oscar Pistorius replied: “That is not true.”
The athlete has previously said he and Reeva Steenkamp had spent a quiet evening together before he woke up on hearing a noise in the bathroom.
After the cross-examination ended, Oscar Pistorius’ defense lawyer Barry Roux asked a few further questions before presenting to the court the Valentine’s Day card which Reeva Steenkamp had written for the athlete.
On the card, she had written: “Roses are red, violets are blue, I think this is a good time to say, I love you.”
Reeva Steenkamp was shot dead in the early hours of Valentine’s Day 2013.
Oscar Pistorius has now ended his testimony.
Prosecution witnesses have testified to hearing a woman scream, but the defense disputes their testimony.
Judge Thokozile Masipa temporarily halted proceedings on two occasions on Monday after Oscar Pistorius broke down sobbing.
Prosecutor Gerrie Nel said: “You’re getting emotional now because you’re getting frustrated because your version [of events] is improbable.”
Both prosecution and defense have asked Judge Thokozile Masipa to postpone the case until May 5, following Tuesday’s cross-examination.
Gerrie Nel said members of his team were engaged in “more pressing” cases, which needed their attention, as well as “personal arrangements”.
The defense said the case should still finish on May 16, as planned. The judge said she would deliver her judgement on this request on Wednesday.
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Prosecutor Gerrie Nel at the Oscar Pistorius murder trial in Pretoria has suggested the South African athlete is using his emotions “as an escape”.
Oscar Pistorius, 27, broke down in tears four times on Monday and has also vomited in court.
“Now you trying to be emotional and it’s not working,” said prosecutor Gerrie Nel.
Oscar Pistorius admits killing girlfriend Reeva Steenkamp on February 14 last year, but says he fired his gun after mistaking her for an intruder.
Gerrie Nel said Oscar Pistorius had deliberately shot Reeva Steenkamp after the couple had had an argument.
As the prosecutor resumed his cross-examination on Monday, he accused Oscar Pistorius of “tailoring his evidence” as he went along to suit the defense case, which had been “concocted”.
“Your version of events is untrue,” Gerrie Nel said.
Oscar Pistorius admits killing girlfriend Reeva Steenkamp on February 14 last year, but says he fired his gun after mistaking her for an intruder
Shortly before the case adjourned for the day, Gerrie Nel said: “You’re getting emotional now because you’re getting frustrated because your version [of events] is improbable.”
The prosecutor, known as “bull terrier” for his fierce style of questioning, then asked: “You’re not using your emotional state as an escape are you?”
Gerrie Nel spent much of the day trying to highlight apparent inconsistencies between Oscar Pistorius’ bail application and his evidence in court.
On one occasion, when Oscar Pistorius corrected Gerrie Nel, the prosecutor said this showed the athelte was a “stickler for detail” and yet on many aspects of the case, the athlete was being vague.
Earlier, Gerrie Nel again pressed Oscar Pistorius on the moment he shot Reeva Steenkamp.
The athlete said he had not intended to kill anyone.
“I fired out of fear,” he said.
This prompted Gerrie Nel to say Oscar Pistorius was changing his story from self-defense to saying he shot by accident.
The prosecutor said this was because the truth was: “You fired at Reeva.”
“It’s not true,” Oscar Pistorius replied, breaking into tears and prompting the court to briefly adjourn.
After the break, Gerrie Nel said that, as Oscar Pistorius was trained to use firearms, the court could not accept he had fired by “mistake”.
The prosecutor said the fact that a pair of Reeva Steenkamp’s jeans was lying on the bed showed that she was in the middle of getting dressed in order to leave Oscar Pistorius’ house when she was shot after the couple had argued in the early hours of Valentine’s Day 2013.
This was denied by Oscar Pistorius.
The Paralympic champion also started sobbing as he recalled shouting at the burglars he thought were in his house.
When asked why he broke down, Oscar Pistorius said: “I am traumatized” by the events of that night.
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Oscar Pistorius said that Reeva Steenkamp did not scream or shout as he grabbed a gun and fired shots that killed her.
At the athlete’s murder trial in Pretoria, prosecutor Gerrie Nel said it was “improbable” that Reeva Steenkamp would stand in the bathroom saying nothing while Oscar Pistorius was just 10 ft away shouting at her to call the police.
Oscar Pistorius, 27, said he could not explain why she had not shouted out.
The Paralympic champion denies murder saying the killing was a terrible accident.
He admits killing Reeva Steenkamp but says he fired his gun after mistaking her for an intruder.
Oscar Pistorius believed Reeva Steenkamp had been in bed when he grabbed his gun, made his way to the bathroom and fired shots through the door.
The prosecution says he killed her after an argument.
On the third day of his cross-examination, Gerrie Nel pressed Oscar Pistorius to explain the final moments leading up to the shooting.
Gerrie Nel asked why he had not checked whether Reeva Steenkamp had heard his calls for her to phone the police, or why he had not taken her to safety instead of going to confront the supposed intruder.
Oscar Pistorius said that Reeva Steenkamp did not scream or shout as he grabbed a gun and fired shots that killed her
Oscar Pistorius said it was his personality to confront what he believed was an intruder.
The trial has been adjourned until Monday morning.
Later, Gerrie Nel questioned Oscar Pistorius’s account that he had not heard Reeva Steenkamp shout or scream during the whole incident.
He said it was the “most improbable” part of the account.
“At that stage when you shouted at Reeva to phone the police, she was 3 m away from you in the toilet, but she didn’t say anything,” he said.
“Why would she not say anything?”
Oscar Pistorius said he did not know.
The prosecutor accused the athlete of lying, and said he had shot Reeva Steenkamp while she was talking to him from the bathroom.
“She wasn’t scared of an intruder,” he said.
“She was scared of you.”
He went on: “Are you sure that Reeva did not scream after the first shot?”
Oscar Pistorius took a long time to answer, and broke down into sobs.
“At no point did Reeva shout out or scream,” he said.
Gerrie Nel then disputed his claim, saying he would not have been able to hear if he had just fired his gun.
Prosecution witnesses have testified to hearing a woman scream, but the defense disputes their testimony.
Gerrie Nel repeated a line of attack he had used on Thursday, testing the defendant’s version of events, and accusing him of lying.
Oscar Pistorius told the court he had heard a window opening and closing, and had immediately got out of bed and grabbed his gun.
“I told Reeva to get down and phone the police,” he said.
Gerrie Nel asked if he had not looked at Reeva Steenkamp, or asked if she had heard the noise.
“On the morning of the 14th I was sure of what I heard,” he said.
“My whole being was fixated on this person that I thought was in the bathroom.”
The double amputee faces life imprisonment if convicted of murdering 29-year-old model Reeva Steenkamp.
If he is acquitted of murder, the court must consider an alternative charge of culpable homicide, for which he could receive up to 15 years in prison.
Oscar Pistorius also faces charges of illegally firing a gun in public and of illegally possessing ammunition, both of which he denies.
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