As the prosecution ended five days of grueling cross-examination, Oscar Pistorius, the disabled track star accused of murder, rose from the dock on Tuesday to re-enact the moment he broke down a locked toilet cubicle door with a cricket bat after opening fire on it with his girlfriend inside.
The girlfriend, Reeva Steenkamp, 29, a model and law graduate, was shot to death in the early hours of Feb. 14, 2013. But Mr. Pistorius denies the prosecution’s charge of premeditated murder, saying he made a mistake, believing at least one intruder was inside the cubicle when he fired four shots from a handgun.
After the re-enactment, Mr. Pistorius testified that when he found Ms. Steenkamp, she was “sitting on the floor to the right. She was seated on her right buttocks with her right arm on top of the toiled bowl. Her head was on her shoulder.”
The prosecutor then displayed a grisly photograph of the toilet with blood smearing the bowl and a pool of blood on the floor.
Since last week, the double amputee athlete has faced a daily grueling interrogation by the state prosecutor, Gerrie Nel, who has accused Mr. Pistorius, 27, of lying, dissembling, changing his evidence and offering an improbable and untrue version of events.
“It’s got more and more improbable,” the prosecutor said on Tuesday shortly before he ended his cross-examination, which has frequently reduced Mr. Pistorius to tears. In a final summary of the state case, he accused the athlete of intending to shoot and kill Ms. Steenkamp when he opened fire at the door. They had argued, the prosecutor said, and Ms. Steenkamp wanted to leave the house “and you were threatening her.”
But Mr. Pistorius repeated that he ” believed there was someone coming out to attack me” when he fired. After the shooting, Mr. Pistorius he ran on his stumps and put on his prosthetic legs. Then, he tried to break the door down with his shoulder and by kicking it but the door did not break so he went to find a cricket bat. “I was crying out for the Lord to help me,” Mr. Pistorius said. “I was screaming for Reeva.” He added, “I was overcome with terror and despair.”
“When I saw Reeva there, I was broken,” he said.
“I checked if she was breathing, if she had a pulse,” he said “I heard her breathing and immediately tried to get her up and get her out of the toilet. I couldn’t pick her up and I scuttled around with my legs.”
“I managed to turn her around,” he said. Then he telephoned a friend to come and help him pick her up. “I was crying. I was saying: baby, please hold on. Jesus, help me.” He called emergency services where an operator told him to get Ms. Steenkamp to hospital as quickly as possible without waiting for an ambulance.
When Mr. Pistorius finally managed to pick her up, and carried her downstairs, Johan Stander, the manager of the gated complex where the athlete lived, arrived and told him to lay the body down.
On Monday, Mr. Pistorius was taken back to the early hours of Feb. 14, 2013, when he shot Ms. Steenkamp, in what the prosecution says was an act of premeditated murder and Mr. Pistorius says was a mistake.
Mr. Nel had Mr. Pistorius relive the final intimate moments of Ms. Steenkamp’s life, as the athlete walked unsteadily on his stumps down an unlit passage from his darkened bedroom, a pistol in his right hand, and into a bathroom where he fired four rounds at the locked door of a toilet cubicle.
Then, Mr. Pistorius said, “I ran down the passage; I ran past my bed” to look for his girlfriend and call for help.
“When I realized that Reeva wasn’t on the bed, that was the first time I thought it might be Reeva in the bathroom,” Mr. Pistorius said.
But, Mr. Nel said, the “first thing you would think is that you would check whether she left through the bedroom door” rather than assume she had been in the locked cubicle.
It required a “great leap” for Mr. Pistorius to go from believing that he had shot intruders to suspecting that he had opened fire on his girlfriend, said Mr. Nel, whose reputation as a pugnacious prosecutor has earned him the nickname pit bull.
“You see, Mr. Pistorius, this is one of the most crucial issues that makes your version so improbable,” Mr. Nel said, seeking to establish that the athlete’s evidence on the stand was, in the prosecutor’s words on Monday, “so improbable that it cannot possibly be true.”