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

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Oscar Pistorius refuses to look at photo of dead girlfriend Reeva Steenkamp
South African Paralympian athlete Oscar Pistorius (C) leaves the High Court in Pretoria on 8 August 2014. A verdict in the high profile murder trial of sports star Oscar Pistorius has been set for September 11, after lawyers wrapped up five months of drama-filled proceedings on August 8. Eighteen months after Pistorius shot dead his girlfriend Reeva Steenkamp on Valentine's Day 2013, the star's fate now lies in the hands of South African Judge Thokozile Masipa. AFP PHOTO/MUJAHID SAFODIEN (Photo credit should read MUJAHID SAFODIEN/AFP/Getty Images)
PRETORIA, SOUTH AFRICA SEPTEMBER 4: (SOUTH AFRICA OUT) Oscar Pistorius arrives at his Uncle's house on September 4, 2014 in Pretoria, South Africa. Pistorius is currently awaiting the verdict on his murder trial. Judge Thokozile Masipa will deliver her verdict on September 11, 2014. (Photo by Waldo Swiegers/Sunday Times/Gallo Images/Getty Images)
PRETORIA, SOUTH AFRICA - AUGUST 21:(SOUTH AFRICA OUT) A broken toilet seat from the bathroom where the Paralympian athlete Oscar Pistorius shot and killed his model girlfriend, Reeva Steenkamp on August 21, 2014 in the house in Silver Woods Estate, Pretoria, South Africa. Pistorius is currently awaiting the verdict on his murder trial. Judge Thokozile Masipa will deliver her verdict on September 11, 2014. (Photo by Waldo Swiegers/Sunday Times/Gallo Images/Getty Images)
PRETORIA, SOUTH AFRICA - AUGUST 21:(SOUTH AFRICA OUT) Bullet holes on the tiles inside the bathroom where the Paralympian athlete Oscar Pistorius shot and killed his model girlfriend, Reeva Steenkamp on August 21, 2014 in the house in Silver Woods Estate, Pretoria, South Africa. Pistorius is currently awaiting the verdict on his murder trial. Judge Thokozile Masipa will deliver her verdict on September 11, 2014. (Photo by Waldo Swiegers/Sunday Times/Gallo Images/Getty Images)
PRETORIA, SOUTH AFRICA - AUGUST 21:(SOUTH AFRICA OUT) Bullet holes on the tiles inside the bathroom where the Paralympian athlete Oscar Pistorius shot and killed his model girlfriend, Reeva Steenkamp on August 21, 2014 in the house in Silver Woods Estate, Pretoria, South Africa. Pistorius is currently awaiting the verdict on his murder trial. Judge Thokozile Masipa will deliver her verdict on September 11, 2014. (Photo by Waldo Swiegers/Sunday Times/Gallo Images/Getty Images)
PRETORIA, SOUTH AFRICA - AUGUST 21:(SOUTH AFRICA OUT) An empty room in the house where the Paralympian athlete Oscar Pistorius shot and killed his model girlfriend, Reeva Steenkamp on August 21, 2014 in the house in Silver Woods Estate, Pretoria, South Africa. Pistorius is currently awaiting the verdict on his murder trial. Judge Thokozile Masipa will deliver her verdict on September 11, 2014. (Photo by Waldo Swiegers/Sunday Times/Gallo Images/Getty Images)
PRETORIA, SOUTH AFRICA - AUGUST 21:(SOUTH AFRICA OUT) Inside the bathroom where the Paralympian athlete Oscar Pistorius shot and killed his model girlfriend, Reeva Steenkamp on August 21, 2014 in the house in Silver Woods Estate, Pretoria, South Africa. Pistorius is currently awaiting the verdict on his murder trial. Judge Thokozile Masipa will deliver her verdict on September 11, 2014. (Photo by Waldo Swiegers/Sunday Times/Gallo Images/Getty Images)
BY COURT ORDER, THIS IMAGE IS FREE TO USE. PRETORIA, SOUTH AFRICA - AUGUST 8: Oscar Pistorius walks past Reeva Steenkamp's parents in the Pretoria High Court on August 8, 2014, in Pretoria, South Africa. Oscar Pistorius stands accused of the murder of his girlfriend, Reeva Steenkamp, on February 14, 2013. This is Pistorius' official trial, the result of which will determine the paralympian athlete's fate. (Photo by Herman Verwey - Pool/Foto24/Gallo Images/Getty Images)
BY COURT ORDER, THIS IMAGE IS FREE TO USE. PRETORIA, SOUTH AFRICA -AUGUST 8: OBarry Roux gives his closing arguments in the murder trial of Oscar Pistorius in the Pretoria High Court on August 8, 2014, in Pretoria, South Africa. Oscar Pistorius stands accused of the murder of his girlfriend, Reeva Steenkamp, on February 14, 2013. This is Pistorius' official trial, the result of which will determine the paralympian athlete's fate. (Photo by Herman Verwey-Pool/Foto24/Gallo Image/Getty Images)
BY COURT ORDER, THIS IMAGE IS FREE TO USE. PRETORIA, SOUTH AFRICA -AUGUST 8: Barry Roux gives his closing arguments in the murder trial of Oscar Pistorius in the Pretoria High Court on August 8, 2014, in Pretoria, South Africa. Oscar Pistorius stands accused of the murder of his girlfriend, Reeva Steenkamp, on February 14, 2013. This is Pistorius' official trial, the result of which will determine the paralympian athlete's fate. (Photo by Herman Verwey-Pool/Foto24/Gallo Image/Getty Images)
South African Paralympian Oscar Pistorius leaves the Pretoria High Court at the end of the first of two days of concluding arguments on August 7, 2014. A South African prosecutor branded Pistorius 'deceitful' and insisted the Paralympian cannot avoid a conviction for murdering his glamorous model girlfriend, as the state closed its case against him. AFP PHOTO/MuJAHID SAFODIEN (Photo credit should read MUJAHID SAFODIEN/AFP/Getty Images)
BY COURT ORDER, THIS IMAGE IS FREE TO USE. PRETORIA, SOUTH AFRICA -AUGUST 8: Oscar Pistorius talks to a member of his defence team, Brian Webber in the Pretoria High Court on August 8, 2014, in Pretoria, South Africa. Oscar Pistorius stands accused of the murder of his girlfriend, Reeva Steenkamp, on February 14, 2013. This is Pistorius' official trial, the result of which will determine the paralympian athlete's fate. (Photo by Herman Verwey - Pool/Foto24/Gallo Image/Getty Images)
BY COURT ORDER, THIS IMAGE IS FREE TO USE. PRETORIA, SOUTH AFRICA -AUGUST 7: Oscar Pistorius during his murder trial in the Pretoria High Court on August 7, 2014, in Pretoria, South Africa. Oscar Pistorius stands accused of the murder of his girlfriend, Reeva Steenkamp, on February 14, 2013. This is Pistorius' official trial, the result of which will determine the paralympian athlete's fate. (Photo by Werner Beukes/Independent Newspapers/Gallo Image/Getty Images)
South African paralympic champion Oscar Pistorius gestures during the presentation of the final arguments of his murder trial at the high court in Pretoria on August 7, 2014. Pistorius is accused of the murder of his girlfriend Reeva Steenkamp, who was fatally shot inside his home. AFP PHOTO/ POOL/MUJAHID SAFODIEN (Photo credit should read MUJAHID SAFODIEN/AFP/Getty Images)
South African Paralympian Oscar Pistorius leaves the Pretoria High Court at the end of the first of two days of concluding arguments on August 7, 2014. A South African prosecutor branded Pistorius 'deceitful' and insisted the Paralympian cannot avoid a conviction for murdering his glamorous model girlfriend, as the state closed its case against him. AFP PHOTO/MuJAHID SAFODIEN (Photo credit should read MUJAHID SAFODIEN/AFP/Getty Images)
South African Paralympian Oscar Pistorius leaves the Pretoria High Court at the end of the first of two days of concluding arguments on August 7, 2014. A South African prosecutor branded Pistorius 'deceitful' and insisted the Paralympian cannot avoid a conviction for murdering his glamorous model girlfriend, as the state closed its case against him. AFP PHOTO/MuJAHID SAFODIEN (Photo credit should read MUJAHID SAFODIEN/AFP/Getty Images)
South African paralympic champion Oscar Pistorius attends the presentation of the final arguments of his murder trial at the high court in Pretoria on August 7, 2014. Pistorius is accused of the murder of his girlfriend Reeva Steenkamp, who was fatally shot inside his home. AFP PHOTO/ POOL/MUJAHID SAFODIEN (Photo credit should read MUJAHID SAFODIEN/AFP/Getty Images)
South African paralympic champion Oscar Pistorius blows his nose during the presentation of the final arguments of his murder trial at the high court in Pretoria on August 7, 2014. Pistorius is accused of the murder of his girlfriend Reeva Steenkamp, who was fatally shot inside his home. AFP PHOTO POOL/MUJAHID SAFODIEN (Photo credit should read MUJAHID SAFODIEN/AFP/Getty Images)
PRETORIA, SOUTH AFRICA - AUGUST 7 (SOUTH AFRICA OUT): Oscar Pistorius's father, Henke Pistorius leaves the Pretoria High Court on August 7, 2014, in Pretoria, South Africa. Oscar Pistorius, stands accused of the murder of his girlfriend, Reeva Steenkamp, on February 14, 2014. This is Pistorius' official trial, the result of which will determine the paralympian athlete's fate. Closing arguements begin today. (Photo by Herman Verwey/Foto24/Gallo Images/Getty Images)
PRETORIA, SOUTH AFRICA - AUGUST 7 (SOUTH AFRICA OUT): Barry Steenkamp, Reeva Steenkamp's father arrives at the Pretoria High Court on August 7, 2014, in Pretoria, South Africa. Oscar Pistorius, stands accused of the murder of his girlfriend, Reeva Steenkamp, on February 14, 2014. This is Pistorius' official trial, the result of which will determine the paralympian athlete's fate. Closing arguements begin today. (Photo by Herman Verwey/Foto24/Gallo Images/Getty Images)
South African paralympic champion Oscar Pistorius (C) arrives to take part in a hearing of his murder trial at the high court in Pretoria on August 7 2014. Pistorius is accused of the murder of his girlfriend Reeva Steenkamp, who was fatally shot inside his home. AFP PHOTO/MUJAHID SAFODIEN (Photo credit should read MUJAHID SAFODIEN/AFP/Getty Images)
BY COURT ORDER, THIS IMAGE IS FREE TO USE. PRETORIA, SOUTH AFRICA -AUGUST 7: Oscar Pistorius during his murder trial in the Pretoria High Court on August 7, 2014, in Pretoria, South Africa. Oscar Pistorius stands accused of the murder of his girlfriend, Reeva Steenkamp, on February 14, 2013. This is Pistorius' official trial, the result of which will determine the paralympian athlete's fate. (Photo by Werner Beukes/Independent Newspapers/Gallo Image/Getty Images)
Oscar Pistorius listens to evidence being given in court in Pretoria, South Africa, Tuesday, April 15, 2014 after questioning by state prosecutor Gerrie Nel, had earlier finished. Pistorius is charged with the murder of his girlfriend Reeva Steenkamp, on Valentines Day in 2013. (AP Photo/Alon Skuy, Pool)
Oscar Pistorius puts on his jacket as he arrives at the high court in Pretoria, South Africa, Friday, April 11, 2014. The chief prosecutor laughed scornfully at an answer from Pistorius during the Olympic athlete's murder trial Thursday, mocking the man who shot his girlfriend. Pistorius is charged with murder for the shooting death of his girlfriend, Reeva Steenkamp, on Valentines Day in 2013. (AP Photo/Themba Hadebe)
The bullet-riddled toilet door through which Oscar Pistorius shot and killed his girlfriend Reeva Sttenkamp is exhibited in court in Pretoria, South Africa, Monday, April 14, 2014. The chief prosecutor in the murder trial of Oscar Pistorius on Monday accused him of tailoring his version of how he killed his girlfriend to fit evidence at the scene, exhaustively listing alleged inconsistencies in the athlete's account of the fatal shooting of Reeva Steenkamp. (AP Photo/Antoine de Ras, Pool)
South African chief state prosecutor Gerrie Nel questions Oscar Pistorius in court in Pretoria, South Africa, Monday, April 14, 2014. A judge temporarily adjourned the murder trial of Oscar Pistorius after the athlete started to sob while testifying about the moments before he killed girlfriend Reeva Steenkamp in his home last year. (AP Photo/Antoine de Ras, Pool)
South African chief state prosecutor Gerrie Nel gestures as he explains a possible scenario into how Oscar Pistorius might have fired on girlfriend Reeva Steenkamp, in court in Pretoria, South Africa, Monday, April 14, 2014. A judge temporarily adjourned the murder trial of Oscar Pistorius after the athlete started to sob while testifying about the moments before he killed girlfriend Reeva Steenkamp in his home last year. (AP Photo/Antoine de Ras, Pool)
Sister of Oscar Pistorius Aimee Pistorius, center, attends his murder trial as chief prosecutor Gerrie Nel questions Oscar Pistorius in court in Pretoria, South Africa, Monday, April 14, 2014. Pistorius who is charged with the murder of his girlfriend Reeva Steenkamp on Valentine's Day in 2013, is being cross-examined at his trial for the fourth day by Nel. (AP Photo/Kim Ludbrook, Pool)
Oscar Pistorius arrives at the high court in Pretoria, South Africa, Wednesday, April 9, 2014. Pistorius is charged with murder for the shooting death of his girlfriend Reeva Steenkamp on Valentine's Day in 2013. (AP Photo/Themba Hadebe)
Oscar Pistorius leaves the high court in Pretoria, South Africa, Wednesday, April 9, 2014. Pistorius is charged with murder for shooting dead his girlfriend, Reeva Steenkamp, on Valentines Day in 2013. (AP Photo/Themba Hadebe)
State prosecutor Gerrie Nel during cross questioning of Oscar Pistorius, in court in Pretoria, South Africa, Wednesday, April 9, 2014. Pistorius is charged with the murder of his girlfriend Reeva Steenkamp, on Valentines Day in 2013. (AP Photo/Siphiwe Sibeko, Pool)
Lois and Arnold Pistorius, aunt and uncle of South African Paralympic athlete Oscar Pistorius, cry as he testifies during his ongoing murder trial in Pretoria, South Africa, on April 8, 2014. Star Paralympian Oscar Pistorius returned to the witness box at his murder trial on April 8, insisting he and girlfriend Reeva Steenkamp had a loving relationship and saw a future together before he shot her dead on Valentine's Day. AFP PHOTO / POOL / KIM LUDBROOK (Photo credit should read KIM LUDBROOK/AFP/Getty Images)
PRETORIA, SOUTH AFRICA - APRIL 9: (SOUTH AFRICA OUT): Gina Myers, Reeva Steenkamp's best friend, is overcome with emotion as she listens to Oscar Pistorius' testimony in the Pretoria High Court on April 9, 2014, in Pretoria, South Africa. Oscar Pistorius stands accused of the murder of his girlfriend, Reeva Steenkamp, on February 14, 2014. This is Pistorius' official trial, the result of which will determine the paralympian athlete's fate. (Photo by Sydney Seshibedi - Pool/Getty Images)
Oscar Pistorius leaves the high court in Pretoria, South Africa, Tuesday, March 25, 2014. Pistorius is charged with murder for the shooting death of his girlfriend, Reeva Steenkamp, on Valentines Day in 2013. (AP Photo/Themba Hadebe)
Oscar Pistorius hops into the car as a police offer watches the high court in Pretoria, South Africa, Tuesday, March 25, 2014. Pistorius is charged with murder for the shooting death of his girlfriend, Reeva Steenkamp, on Valentines Day in 2013. (AP Photo/Themba Hadebe)
Oscar Pistorius leaves the high court in Pretoria, South Africa, Monday, March 24, 2014. Pistorius is charged with murder for the death of his girlfriend, Reeva Steenkamp, on Valentines Day in 2013. (AP Photo/Themba Hadebe)
Oscar Pistorius, left, with a relative leaves the high court in Pretoria, South Africa, Monday, March 24, 2014. Pistorius is charged with murder for the shooting death of his girlfriend, Reeva Steenkamp, on Valentines Day in 2013. (AP Photo/Themba Hadebe)
PRETORIA, SOUTH AFRICA - APRIL 11 (SOUTH AFRICA OUT): Oscar Pistorius arrives at the Pretoria High Court on April 11, 2014, in Pretoria, South Africa. Oscar Pistorius, stands accused of the murder of his girlfriend, Reeva Steenkamp, on February 14, 2014. This is Pistorius' official trial, the result of which will determine the paralympian athlete's fate. (Photo by Deaan Vivier/Foto24/Gallo Images/Getty Images)
PRETORIA, SOUTH AFRICA - APRIL 11 (SOUTH AFRICA OUT): Oscar Pistorius arrives at the Pretoria High Court on April 11, 2014, in Pretoria, South Africa. Oscar Pistorius, stands accused of the murder of his girlfriend, Reeva Steenkamp, on February 14, 2014. This is Pistorius' official trial, the result of which will determine the paralympian athlete's fate. (Photo by Deaan Vivier/Foto24/Gallo Images/Getty Images)
BY COURT ORDER, THIS IMAGE IS FREE TO USE. PRETORIA, SOUTH AFRICA -AUGUST 7: scar Pistorius's defence lawyer Barry Roux in the Pretoria High Court on August 7, 2014, in Pretoria, South Africa. Oscar Pistorius stands accused of the murder of his girlfriend, Reeva Steenkamp, on February 14, 2013. This is Pistorius' official trial, the result of which will determine the paralympian athlete's fate. (Photo by Werner Beukes/Independent Newspapers/Gallo Image/Getty Images)
South African Paralympian Oscar Pistorius (L) reads notes during the lunch break on the first of two days of concluding arguments at the Pretoria High Court on August 7, 2014. A South African prosecutor branded Pistorius 'deceitful' and insisted the Paralympian cannot avoid a conviction for murdering his glamorous model girlfriend Reeva Steenkamp, as the state closed its case against him. AFP PHOTO/POOL/MUJAHID SAFODIEN (Photo credit should read MUJAHID SAFODIEN/AFP/Getty Images)
South African Paralympian Oscar Pistorius attends the first of two days of concluding arguments at the Pretoria High Court on August 7, 2014. A South African prosecutor branded Pistorius 'deceitful' and insisted the Paralympian cannot avoid a conviction for murdering his glamorous model girlfriend, as the state closed its case against him. AFP PHOTO/POOL/MUJAHID SAFODIEN (Photo credit should read MUJAHID SAFODIEN/AFP/Getty Images)
BY COURT ORDER, THIS IMAGE IS FREE TO USE. PRETORIA, SOUTH AFRICA -AUGUST 8: Oscar Pistorius's family in the Pretoria High Court on August 8, 2014, in Pretoria, South Africa. Oscar Pistorius stands accused of the murder of his girlfriend, Reeva Steenkamp, on February 14, 2013. This is Pistorius' official trial, the result of which will determine the paralympian athlete's fate. (Photo by Herman Verwey-Pool/Foto24/Gallo Image/Getty Images)
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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.

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