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Oscar Pistorius refuses to look at photo of dead girlfriend Reeva Steenkamp

PRETORIA, South Africa (AP) -- Oscar Pistorius refused to look at a photo of his dead girlfriend's bloody head wounds while testifying at his murder trial Wednesday as the prosecutor urged the star athlete to "take responsibility" for killing her.

"It's time that you look at it," chief prosecutor Gerrie Nel said, setting the stage for a rigorous first day of cross-examination of Pistorius, the double-amputee Olympian charged with premeditated murder for shooting Reeva Steenkamp three times through a toilet door at his home.

"I remember," Pistorius said of Steenkamp's bloodied head, becoming distraught and then crying as he turned away from the gruesome image of the injuries he inflicted that were displayed next to him in a packed courtroom in South Africa's capital.

Nel said Steenkamp's head "exploded" when it was struck by one of four hollow-point bullets that Pistorius fired through the door on Feb. 14, 2013 with his 9 mm pistol. The showing of the photograph on TV screens in the courtroom caused gasps among spectators, who included Steenkamp's mother, June. The police photo showed a side view of the dead model and reality TV star's head, with a mass of blood and human tissue on the back and upper parts. Her eyes were closed.

"I will not look at a picture where I'm tormented by what I saw and felt that night," Pistorius said. "As I picked Reeva up, my fingers touched her head. I remember. I don't have to look at a picture, I was there."

Pistorius, 27, says he shot Steenkamp in the pre-dawn hours on Valentine's Day - in the head, arm and hip - by mistake thinking she was a dangerous intruder behind the door in his bathroom about to come out and attack him. Prosecutors charge he killed the 29-year-old intentionally, and Nel aggressively questioned Pistorius for the first time.

"You killed her," Nel said. "You shot and killed her," and he asked Pistorius to say it. Pistorius would not, saying merely: "I did."

Pistorius faces a possible prison term of 25 years to life if convicted of premeditated murder.

Nel also showed a video, first broadcast by Sky News days before the trial started, of the celebrated athlete firing a gun at a watermelon at a shooting range. On the video, Pistorius can be heard saying the melon was "softer than brains" after it explodes when the bullet hits it, and calling the powerful .50-caliber handgun he was using a "zombie stopper."

Referring to the watermelon, Nel said to Pistorius: "You know the same happened to Reeva's head. It exploded."

Defense lawyer Barry Roux objected to the gun video being shown, saying it was inadmissible character evidence and amounted to a legal "ambush" of the defense.

After the dramatic start, prosecutor Nel also started to poke holes in details of Pistorius' version of the events of the fatal night. The champion runner said that his claim in a court document a year ago that he went out onto a balcony at his home before the shooting was incorrect. Pistorius said he went to the edge of the balcony but not outside. The discrepancy could be significant because Pistorius says he heard a noise in the bathroom that alerted him to a possible intruder, which would have been harder if he was out on the balcony.

Nel tried to pin down Pistorius on whether he meant to fire into the toilet cubicle door at a perceived intruder, or whether his gun discharged accidentally. Pistorius said he didn't intend to shoot "anyone" and that he fired "before thinking" because he thought his life was in danger, prompting Nel to accuse him of weighing the legal implications of the question before answering.

The dogged prosecutor implied that Pistorius, who grew more agitated, was becoming emotional because he was faced with a difficult question. The judge noted that Pistorius had been emotional throughout the trial.

Pistorius told his questioner that he was trying to be careful with his answers because the stakes were high.

"My life is on the line," he said. Nel retorted: "Reeva doesn't have a life anymore because of what you've done."

And Nel tried to dismantle a sympathetic image of Pistorius that the defense had sought to build up in three days of testimony, asking the athlete to explicitly acknowledge that he killed Steenkamp.

"I made a mistake," Pistorius said.

"What was your mistake?" Nel shot back.

Pistorius then said he "took Reeva's life."

Nel also questioned the defense's portrayal of Pistorius as a good role model. The prosecution depicts him as an angry hothead with a gun obsession.

The prosecutor asked Pistorius if people looked up to him as a sporting hero, if he would hide anything and if he lived by Christian principles.

"I'm here to tell the truth, I'm here to tell the truth as much as I can remember," Pistorius said. He also said: "I'm human. I have sins."


Torchia reported from Johannesburg.

Join the discussion

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seyj5 April 09 2014 at 8:09 PM

Nail him, he did it.

Flag Reply +3 rate up
wittlief April 09 2014 at 4:36 PM

If I had accidently shot the person I loved in the head and killed her
I would have shot myself seconds later.

Flag Reply +8 rate up
1 reply
LinkDeVille wittlief April 09 2014 at 5:18 PM

Touché' Sir...touché

Flag Reply +1 rate up
loamylam April 10 2014 at 7:02 AM

I'm sorry, but this is not a human. True, humans make errors and are subject to sin. But, this man is a monster. An ego maniacal monster. He is not sorry for taking her life. He is sorry his own life might be taken. Barf Bag Oscar is simply producing another spectacular drama to cover up what he really is. He has no connection with the truth so it is an insult to his victim's family to intimate he is revealing any truth what so ever. But, as fate will have it the truth WILL find him and this is what he cries about. No, Oscar. You are NOT a human but a self made monster and the world recognizes you for your deceptions so own up to your evil and wicked personna.

Flag Reply +3 rate up
Barbara April 09 2014 at 4:13 PM

Good thing he doesn't live in Florida ! He would be free with Casey Anthoney who murdered her little girl.

Flag Reply +6 rate up
1 reply
LinkDeVille Barbara April 09 2014 at 5:33 PM

Please leave Florida out of this...

Flag Reply 0 rate up
1 reply
bdot157 LinkDeVille April 09 2014 at 7:21 PM

Florida needs to rid itself of RepubliKKKlaners in office. Time to stand your ground in the voting booth !

Flag +1 rate up
richelleljohnson April 09 2014 at 4:12 PM

I think this guy is full of it. Call me crazy but if you are staying with your boyfriend why would you lock the bathroom door? Am I the only one that has enough trust to use the restroom without worrying about my boyfriend walking through the door? And isn't the first instinct when you hear a noise to feel for the person next to you??? This guy is either lying through his teeth or he is one idiot who should never wield a weapon of any kind. Even before this incident the gun had gone off too many times without cause. #triggerhappy #evidence

Flag Reply +7 rate up
1 reply
LinkDeVille richelleljohnson April 09 2014 at 5:34 PM

To piggy back...
I would have simply laid down in the prone position in the dark and WAITED to see who came out before I pulled the trigger.

Flag Reply +2 rate up
RAULMATTHEW April 10 2014 at 12:11 AM

Shooting watermelons with a shotgun what a dude. Another day of testimony and it went something like this. "wah, wah, wah, boo-hoo, boo-hoo, gag, gag, gag, boo-hoo, boo-hoo.

Flag Reply +1 rate up
Bruce April 09 2014 at 3:38 PM

Pistorius is toast. Despite an "A+" acting job, the facts keep getting in the way of his pitiful "poor little handicapped me" routine. They still have an electric chair in South Africa, right? Those "blade" should make excellent conductors...

Flag Reply +6 rate up
1 reply
bdot157 Bruce April 09 2014 at 7:30 PM

A+ for acting ? That is by far the most lame azzz obvious attempt at trying to conjure up sympathy. The sympathy he deserves can be found in the dictionary in between **** and syphilis

Flag Reply +1 rate up
bettyepler April 09 2014 at 3:36 PM

I heard someone trying to break into my house once. I grabbed a gun for protection. Instead of just shooting at the door, I made sure that I saw the door handle moving and I saw the shadow of the man outside. I then yelled out that I was standing inside the door with a loaded .357 pistol. I yelled that, if he broke in, I would defend myself and the choice was his to make. He ran away. I called the police to let them know about it and they searched the area. No way would I just start shooting. After all, the person isn't a threat to you until they are in the same room. Even if you buy his explanation, Pistorius wasn't in any danger if the person was in the next room. He should have woken his girlfriend to get her out of harms way and warned the would-be robber that he was armed so the robber would have had a chance to get away. There was no reason to shoot blindly through a door. His excuse just doesn't "hold water".

Flag Reply +8 rate up
Jorge April 09 2014 at 3:34 PM


Flag Reply +10 rate up
1 reply
jjrgamer Jorge April 09 2014 at 4:00 PM

By Jorge you got it! I don't know anyone who wouldn't do the same, if they cared about their significant other. He is such a phony with the crocodile tears.

Flag Reply +7 rate up
vigoddess April 09 2014 at 3:33 PM

The truth being that violence comes from within. Pistorius had to
have a lot of control over himself to become an Olympian. Control
is a major factor with violence, and Pistorius probably has to
justify himself calling it an accident, as a child would sob after
the fact, especially when there's no going back. It is done.
The gun in hand was the finale, and there are no mistakes
once you use it.

Flag Reply +6 rate up
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