Tears, Texts and Media Swarms: Pistorius Trial’s Big Moments

Pistorius arrives in court ahead of his trial at the North Gauteng High Court in Pretoria
Pistorius arrives in court ahead of his trial at the North Gauteng High Court in Pretoria


During the murder trial of his girlfriend, Oscar Pistorius has shed tears, retched and thrown up, and sat through accusations of being a cheater — all while cameras rolled.

On Friday, the double-amputee runner is likely to take the stand as the first defense witness, marking another landmark moment in the quest for justice over the Valentine’s Day 2013 death of Reeva Steenkamp, whom Pistorius insists he killed by accident after he mistook her for an intruder.

Here are other major milestones in the “Blade Runner” case, which has captivated South Africa and the world since it began March 3:

Trial evidence leaked

Two weeks before the trial even started in Pretoria, South Africa, it was already creating a media frenzy. Prosecution evidence — including a claim that Pistorius told security guards nothing was wrong after he shot and killed Steenkamp through a locked toilet door in his house — was leaked to South African media.

“Everything is fine,” he allegedly told a security guard about 10 minutes after the fatal shooting.

The leak only piqued interest in the trial for the murder of Steenkamp, a 29-year-old model whose fame was rising before her death.

Steenkamp’s clothes examined

The defense claims Steenkamp got out of bed to use the bathroom, unbeknownst to Pistorius, resulting in him thinking an intruder was in his home. Prosecutors poked through that claim early in the trial by pointing out the clothing Steenkamp was wearing at the time of her death.

She was dressed in white shorts and a black top, not pajamas, prosecutors said, and two iPhones were found in the bathroom — which would be unusual if she had just woken up in the middle of the night.


Neighbors testify

On the first day of the trial, state witness Michelle Burger, a neighbor in Pistorius’ gated community, testified she heard screams for help and four gunshots.

“It was blood-curdling; something that leaves you cold,” she said of the screams.

That testimony contradicted Pistorius’ version of events, in which he did not describe a woman screaming. Later in the trial, Pistorius’ lawyer, Barry Roux, suggested the scream was actually from Pistorius.

On March 24, another neighbor, Anette Stipp, testified that she heard gunshots as well asscreams from both a man and a woman on the night of the murder.

Pistorius cries… and cries

Pistorius was seen wiping away tears early in the trial as he listened to details of Steenkamp’s bullet wounds, including one that would have caused brain damage. It was the first of many times he’s seen crying in court. Later on in the trial, another neighbor who witnessed Pistorius after he shot Steenkamp said he also wept that night.

“Oscar was crying all the time,” Johan Stipp said. “He was praying to God, ‘Please let her live.'”

Pistorius vomits… and vomits

Hearing testimony from the pathologist who carried out an autopsy on Steenkamp was too much for Pistorius: He retched loudly and threw up as Gert Saayman read details from his postmortem report on March 10. (Earlier, Judge Thokozile Masipa had ruled that Saayman’s “explicitly graphic” evidence could not be broadcast or tweeted, but could be summarized by the media.)