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Pistorius trial: Boxer recounts gunshot at eatery




BY GERALD IMRAY AND CHRISTOPHER TORCHIA
ASSOCIATED PRESS

PRETORIA, South Africa (AP) -- Oscar Pistorius asked a friend to take the blame after a pistol was accidentally fired in a Johannesburg restaurant, weeks before the double-amputee runner fatally shot his girlfriend, a witness testified Wednesday at Pistorius' murder trial.

The testimony by boxer Kevin Lerena relates to firearms charges against Pistorius, and raises questions about the character of a man who insists he accidentally shot dead Reeva Steenkamp in his home in the early hours of Feb. 14 last year. Prosecutors allege he intentionally shoot Steenkamp, his 29-year-old girlfriend.

Lerena said the restaurant shooting happened when he and Pistorius and two other friends were in a restaurant in the swank Melrose Arch area of Johannesburg in January 2013. One friend, Darren Fresco, passed his gun to Pistorius under the table and told him that there was a bullet in the chamber, Lerena said. Then a shot went off, puncturing the floor near Lerena's foot had been, he said.

"There was just complete silence," said Lerena, who described being in shock and having blood where his toe was grazed in the incident. Then, he said, Pistorius apologized, saying: "Are you OK? Is everybody OK?"

Before the restaurant management approached the table, Lerena said, Pistorius asked Fresco to say he was responsible for the gunshot.

`"Just say it was you. I don't want any tension around me,"` Lerena remembered Pistorius saying. `"There's too much media hype around me."`

Lerena said they paid the bill and left the restaurant, and he never spoke about the incident. Two days after Pistorius shot Steenkamp, he said, he woke up to find over 100 missed calls on his telephone as media from around the world tried to contact him to ask about the restaurant shooting.

Earlier Wednesday, chief defense lawyer Barry Roux sought to undermine the prosecution testimony of a couple who say they heard a woman's screams and gunfire the night that Pistorius killed Steenkamp. Telephone records will show that the banging sounds the neighbors heard were not gunshots but a distressed Pistorius breaking down the toilet door with a cricket bat after realizing he had shot Steenkamp when she was in the toilet, thinking it was an intruder, Roux asserted.

Throwing doubt on the witnesses' recollection of the sequence is crucial for Pistorius' defense after the state maintained there was a loud argument on the night he shot Steenkamp through a door in his bathroom and screams and shouts before a gun was fired.

Pistorius' team wants to show the screams were Pistorius calling for help after the accidental killing.

Charl Johnson and his wife Michelle Burger have testified to hearing a woman screaming, a man shouting for help and then gunshots. During his cross-examination of Johnson, Roux said call records will show Pistorius called an estate manager at around 3:19 a.m. and soon after he bashed in the door with the bat.

In Johnson and Burger's testimony, they say they heard what they described as shots straight after making a call to security at 3:16 a.m. The similar times show the sounds were the bat on the door, Roux argued.

"There is only one thing you could have heard, because it coincides precisely," Roux said to Johnson. "That was the time that he (Pistorius) broke down the door (with the bat)."

Johnson replied, addressing the judge: "My lady, I am convinced the sound I heard was gunshots."

Pistorius, 27, was a globally admired athlete whose career peaked when he ran in the 2012 Olympics. He was born without fibula bones because of a congenital defect and his legs were amputated when he was 11 months old. He has run on carbon-fiber blades and is a multiple Paralympic medalist. He also competed at the London Olympics but didn't win a medal.

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sanmc58 March 05 2014 at 11:28 PM

He is a very arrogant, violent man. He probably think e is above the law and can lie his way out of this, let's hope he's wrong!

Flag Reply +2 rate up
vlastat March 05 2014 at 2:54 PM

He is guilty .

Flag Reply +2 rate up
oldsailor29 March 05 2014 at 2:52 PM

Who would think that a burgler was trying to steal something in the bathroom?

Flag Reply +1 rate up
1 reply
frozenbull oldsailor29 March 05 2014 at 3:10 PM

Aftershave .

Flag Reply 0 rate up
Billy March 05 2014 at 2:47 PM

.....time for deal with the prosecution, brother......

Flag Reply +2 rate up
hmcgeet March 05 2014 at 2:17 PM

why would an intruder lock himself in a bathroom? to make sure the cops got him? Also Pistorius said he didn't have his "legs on". why wouldn't the intruder just run?

Flag Reply +12 rate up
lukasiwicz March 05 2014 at 2:14 PM

Like many other people who have no knowledge of the circumstances of this shooting other than what has appeared in various media, I, too, in my relative ignorance, have an opinion about the Pistorius case, which is that he is guilty, if not of premeditated homicide, then of negligent homicide. Anyone who knows anything about armed self-defense knows you don't fire your weapon until you have identified a suitable target; blasting away through a closed door when you don't know who is on the other side of the door is not an acceptable tactic. At the same time, I do wonder how a witness who, by all accounts, was almost 2 football fields (194 yds.) distant from the scene of the shooting managed to hear much of anything of any sounds, screams or otherwise, coming from inside the Pistorius apartment.

Flag Reply +6 rate up
1 reply
lillaana lukasiwicz March 05 2014 at 8:01 PM

amen

Flag Reply 0 rate up
John Meltorment March 05 2014 at 1:59 PM

The first picture below the headline says it all.

Flag Reply +2 rate up
1 reply
Klarue John Meltorment March 05 2014 at 2:35 PM

Ha!

Flag Reply 0 rate up
folklifer March 05 2014 at 1:41 PM

Generally, when people live together for any period of time, they become used to the sounds of the night, getting up to use the bathroom, getting a drink of water, being unable to sleep, being restless. Most of the time one partner can do all these things without even waking the other. The "fact" that he says he wakened thinking there was an intruder, just doesn't seem to make any sense, in light of their having lived together for some time. The thing that I find more compelling is that he, apparently, was wearing his blades when all of this happened. What amputee have you ever heard of, who sleeps in their prosthetic devices? Most would be "naked" and less able to navigate, especially having awakened suddenly. And, who would take the time to put on such devices, while hearing the screams of his loved one? It just doesn't seem to hang together.

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1 reply
Klarue folklifer March 05 2014 at 2:36 PM

good points, i must say.

Flag Reply 0 rate up
Muscles March 05 2014 at 1:14 PM

The defense expects jurors to believe Pistorius didn't hear his girlfriend screaming from the bathroom. He's a douche.

Flag Reply +5 rate up
blo2thehead March 05 2014 at 1:14 PM

' You put your right foot in....
You take your left foot out...
You put your left foot in and you shake it all abou.... ( BANG! )....
game over.

Flag Reply +5 rate up
1 reply
mm3rdeye blo2thehead March 05 2014 at 2:36 PM

More like .............

' You put your right leg on....
You take your left leg off...
You put your ammo in and you aim it all .... ( BANG! )....
game over.

Flag Reply +1 rate up
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