The prosecutor cross-examining Oscar Pistorius at his murder trial on Friday tried to shred his version of events on the night he shot and killed his girlfriend, saying they do not add up and go completely against how people would react in the situation the double-amputee Olympian has described.
Instead, chief prosecutor Gerrie Nel said the “only reasonable explanation” for what happened in the pre-dawn hours of Feb. 14 last year was that Pistorius fatally shot Steenkamp multiple times through a toilet door from about 3m away as they argued.
“She was standing behind the toilet door talking to you when you shot her,” Nel put to Pistorius right at the end of the first week of the athlete’s testimony.
“That’s not true,” said Pistorius, one of numerous denials he issued to accusations that he was a liar through three days of rigorous cross-examination by the dogged prosecutor.
Nel cited the trajectory of the three bullets that hit the model in the hip, arm and head and which showed she was standing behind the door and facing it, and not backing away as she would have been if she thought there was an intruder in the house, Nel said.
Steenkamp was not scared of anyone “other than you,” Nel said to the 27-year-old athlete charged with premeditated murder.
Pistorius claims he shot Steenkamp, 29, by mistake, thinking she was an intruder about to come out the toilet and attack him. Pistorius, once the hero of disabled sport and a multiple Paralympic champion, faces going to prison for 25 years to life if convicted on the premeditated murder charge.
Nel also scrutinized the positioning of items in the bedroom. They also indicated that Pistorius’ story was a fabrication, he said.
Nel said a duvet strewn on the floor in the bedroom in police photographs shows the pair was awake and arguing just before the shooting, and not in bed as Pistorius has claimed. Pistorius says it was one of many items moved by police after the shooting.
Nel led Pistorius through his own account of what happened moments before he shot Steenkamp.
Pistorius said he heard a noise in the bathroom and moved down a passageway on his stumps toward the bathroom with his pistol, while screaming to his girlfriend to get down from the bed and call the police. Pistorius said he then heard a noise in the toilet that he perceived to be the sound of wood on wood, which he said made him think someone was opening the toilet door to attack him. Then, Pistorius said, he opened fire.
At each stage, Nel argued that the account was improbable, questioning why Pistorius did not establish where Steenkamp was and make sure she was OK, why he would approach the alleged danger zone in the dark if he felt vulnerable on his stumps, why Steenkamp would not respond to him and why an intruder would close himself in a toilet stall.