Paralympian murder accused Oscar Pistorius has admitted that he did not have time to think before he fired four shots into a toilet door, killing his girlfriend Reeva Steenkamp on Valentine’s Day last year. Into his third day on the stand, he gave evidence that says he pulled the trigger of his pistol without thinking of the consequences. He also told the court on several occasions that his life was “on the line” and that he was defending his future.
Today was his third day on the stand, and marked the end of questioning by his advocate Barry Roux. During this phase of questioning, one of the last statements Pistorius made was to say he had not intended “to kill Reeva or anybody else for that matter!”
Then the state prosecutor, Gerrie Nel (pictured above) began his cross-examination that proved to be a roller coaster ride for Pistorius. Although not admitted as evidence, Nel showed the court a video that is in the public domain on YouTube that features the accused shooting a watermelon that Pistorius states is “a lot softer than brain.” The video was, said Pistorius in reply to Nel, just the result of a group of friends getting together to test the gun that was intended for use by people attacked by animals on walking trails in North America. He said he had bought the gun and applied for a legal license for it, but had not taken possession of it so was trying it out at the shooting range. He said it was “nearly double the size” of the 9 mm gun he shot Reeva Steenkamp with on Valentine’s Day last year.
On the defensive throughout the day’s questioning, Oscar Pistorius admitted that he sometimes makes mistakes; that he was not trying to lie – although admitting that his memory was not always very good; and that he was now “defending his life.” With contradictory statements between his bail application and current court evidence quoted by Nel, he told the court today that the discharge of his firearm was accidental and that he did not intend to shoot anyone. This part of the evidence has him saying that he pulled the trigger of his firearm without thinking.
The latter part of today’s day’s evidence was related to Oscar’s bail application statement and his plea application. Throughout, he maintained that his story had not changed, but he admitted that there were several things that his defense attorneys had not included in the bail application. One was that they did not include the fact that when he “sat up in bed” (either late that night or early that morning), Reeva was “speaking to me.”
There was a lengthy discussion about the fan or fans in the room, with Nel maintaining that Pistorius had lied about bringing at least the smaller one inside. There was also lengthy discussion about whether the scene had been disturbed, contaminated and/or tampered with, as was stated in the plea explanation. Pistorius said he was “not trying to lie,” while Nel said he would “show” that Pistorius was lying.
What has undoubtedly gone down as the most emotional day in court so far, ended with evidence relating to whether the fatal shots were fired accidentally or deliberately, with intention to kill.
Accused by state prosecutor Nel of rehearsing answers and presenting them in an “irrelevant way,” Pistorius said he understood he might be “taken apart” because he had tried to correct statements given in his bail application that he now realized were not factual. But he insisted that he did not ever intend to shoot anyone and put himself “between danger and Reeva” on the fateful night. He shot, he insisted, because he “believed someone was coming out to attack me.” He said he “shot out of fear,” adding again, “my life is on the line.”
Repeating statements several times, in a similar manner, he said he did not “intend to shoot anyone.” When he heard the noise coming from the toilet, “I didn’t have time to think what I was doing.” Pushed by Nel he continued saying he had his “finger on the trigger,” but that the shooting was “an accident.”
I didn’t intend to shoot anyone. I fired before I could think.
Like a bulldog, Nel persisted in his questioning asking, “Was the only way out to shoot this intruder to protect yourself? Did your gun go off accidentally, yes or no?” Pistorius stuck dogmatically to his story saying that when he fired the gun he was convinced that “someone was coming out of the toilet to attack me.” He “pulled the trigger at that moment,” without having any “time to think about it.” He insisted that he believed his “ life was in danger” and did not “have time to think.” He had “many, many thoughts,” he said, but “before thinking, out of fear I fired four shots.”
With Oscar’s face crumpled and trembling, and tears swelling in his eyes, Nel simply said: “Why are you emotional now?” Not making a value judgment, Judge Thokozile Masipa cut him short saying, “He has been emotional throughout.”
Nel continued to accuse him of thinking of the implications of any answer he came up with. In response Oscar Pistorius said that he understood it was “not just a physical accident or movement ” but at that time he did not know what to think. So instead, he “fired into the toilet door, because I believed someone was coming out to attack me,” adding that because his “life is on the line,” and he is therefore defending his life, he must “consider the implications of each answer” he makes.
So until tomorrow when the court resumes, we are left with the thought that as Oscar Pistorius says, he pulled the trigger without thinking, and now he is defending his life.
By Penny Swift