It was a heated fourth day of grueling cross-examination in Courtroom GD, with the Blade Runner breaking down several times as he repeatedly rehashed the minute details of the pre-dawn hours of Valentine’s Day last year, when he shot and killed his girlfriend Reeva Steenkamp. The prosecution says it was pre-meditated murder. The Paralympian remains adamant that he believed Steenkamp to be an intruder. The athlete says he did not aim his 9mm Taurus at any point, neither at an intruder, nor at Steenkamp, but out of fear fired four shots through a bathroom door from where he says he heard a noise.
“Was it just lucky that your gun was pointed in the direction of the noise?” prosecuting attorney Gerrie Nel asked sarcastically. “How would that be lucky? She lost her life, my lady!” Pistorius replied to the judge, becoming hysterical, his body heaving with sobs. “No, Mr. Pistorius, you now try to get emotional again,” said Nel, unsympathetic. “It’s not worth your while.”
It was the most damaging day of testimony for the athlete yet. Isolated on the stand, and barely managing to keep his emotions in check, Pistorius’ responses to Nel’s non-chronological questioning were confused, at times hesitant, and seemingly ill-advised. Nel’s questioning goes to the heart of the murder-accused’s defense, which, under the weight of legal interpretation, appeared to crumble.
The Paralympian’s defense has, until this point, been based on the principle of “putative self defense,” whereby he could be found guilty of “culpable homicide”, the South African equivalent of manslaughter, if he fired at a perceived intruder because he felt his life was under threat.
The athlete returns to the stand Tuesday, for a fifth day of interrogation by the prosecution.