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Pistorius accused of staging outbursts at trial

PRETORIA, South Africa (AP) -- Oscar Pistorius came under intense pressure Monday at his murder trial from the chief prosecutor, who dismissed his account of how he killed girlfriend Reeva Steenkamp as a flimsy web of lies and accused the Olympian of staging emotional outbursts to mask difficulty in answering a barrage of probing questions.

His voice quavering at times, Pistorius struggled to explain alleged inconsistencies in his testimony and broke down sobbing on two occasions, forcing Judge Thokozile Masipa to temporarily halt proceedings.

Prosecutor Gerrie Nel was sometimes quick to acknowledge Pistorius' distress - possibly to allow him time to recover and avoid any defense argument that he is not getting a fair trial - but also said the athlete was frantically trying to shore up a fabricated story.

"You're getting frustrated because your version is improbable," Nel said, standing at a lectern and gesturing with his spectacles in his right hand. "You're not using your emotional state as an escape, are you?"

Pistorius said he wasn't in a "rational frame of mind" at the time of the shooting in his home in the early hours of Feb. 14, 2013, suggesting he was therefore unable to remember some things about that night or explain some of his actions, such as rushing around with a cocked gun after he killed Steenkamp.

The cross-examination, which resumes for a fifth day Tuesday, is at a pivotal stage in a trial watched on television around the world by viewers who had admired the double-amputee runner for his track achievements. Once a role model with lucrative sponsorship deals, Pistorius is now a suspect in a witness box, challenged by an accuser in a black robe.

Pistorius faces 25 years to life in prison if convicted of premeditated murder, and Nel's challenge is to prove the state's case beyond a reasonable doubt. Meticulously, he has sought to pick apart the runner's account, exposing what he describes as a pattern of improbabilities that, taken as a whole, prove Pistorius is lying when he says he mistakenly shot Steenkamp through the closed door of a toilet cubicle because he feared an intruder was inside.

Nel, who alleges that Pistorius killed his lover after an argument, noted that the athlete earlier said he whispered to Steenkamp to call police about an intruder, contradicting later testimony that he warned her in a "low tone." The prosecutor also said blood spatter evidence indicated that the athlete's statement about a duvet in the bedroom was false.

Pistorius has said the duvet was on the bed, and that police photographs of the bed cover on the floor suggest that police moved it there after the shooting. Nel said a pattern of blood drops on the duvet and on a nearby carpet show that it was on the floor before police arrived, and that its location amounts to evidence that the couple were arguing.

Nel also challenged Pistorius about his version of events after the shooting, asking why he didn't check outside a bathroom window to see if there might be a ladder used by a perceived intruder to gain entry, and why he didn't check to see if Steenkamp might have fled through the bedroom to another part of the house before concluding - in a "huge leap" of logic - that he had mistakenly shot her.

"It didn't even cross my mind to check the bedroom door," Pistorius replied, saying he was entirely focused on the possibility that Steenkamp was in the toilet cubicle.

Pistorius testified he fired four shots through the toilet door after hearing a "wood" sound that he mistook for the door being opened by a possible assailant. Pistorius said that, in retrospect, he probably heard a magazine holder being moved by his girlfriend.

He denied Nel's allegation that he heard Steenkamp fall against the magazine rack after being hit by the first shot, and used the noise to adjust his aim to make sure he hit her again. Steenkamp was hit by three shots.

The prosecutor tried to pin down Pistorius on whether he intended to shoot at the perceived intruder.

"I didn't have time to think about what I wanted to do," Pistorius replied, prompting Nel to question whether Pistorius was changing his legal strategy from "self-defense" to "involuntary action."

Pistorius said he shouted for any intruder or intruders to get out of his house and that he had no idea who was behind the toilet door when he fired. Nel remarked that, according to Pistorius' account, he didn't know whether a child, an unarmed burglar or more than one person could have been in the toilet stall.

"You never gave them a chance, in your version," Nel said, noting that he never fired a warning shot. The truth, the prosecutor argued, is that Pistorius shot to kill - and that his target was Steenkamp.

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jcsill40 April 14 2014 at 6:44 PM

I think he did it without thinking. I also think they may have had a fight and maybe she
was hiding in the bathroom. She was partially helping her family out financially. Did this
annoy him? He killed her in cold blood no doubt about it. He may be crying now but
wait until they jail him.

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Noreen April 14 2014 at 6:07 PM

Anyone who is guilt ridden for shooting a loved one would say that they should be in prison. He shows no remorse.

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Jamie April 14 2014 at 6:03 PM

Good Grief Tink Tink!! Just admit to what you did... It was so cowardly for you to shoot through that door to kill her... Your story sucks...no one with more than two brain cells could believe that one! Time for you to put on your big boy britches!

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Phyllis April 14 2014 at 6:02 PM

If the burglar was locked in the bathroom, why would you not go get your girlfriend, call the police and leave the house. He did it, no way no how that man was that scared that he just kept shooting into a bathroom. Some burglar breaks into the house to go to the john, locks themself in at that. Give me a break, he did it, no way, no how do I believe his story. Was his girlfriend not saying anything in the bathroom, she wasn't say you fool its me in here.

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1 reply
mimosaday Phyllis April 14 2014 at 6:26 PM

Personally, I think he threatened to kill her, she ran in the bathroom and tried to lock herself in there to get away from him, and he shot her through the door. I mean, I am stunned that anybody thinks he thought it was a burglar. Why would a burglar break in a house and shut himself up in the bathroom, this is outrageous. A neighbor hear the girl screaming and testified to that! He knew she was in there, he meant to kill her, and he killed her. He trumped up that flimsy story about thinking a burglar was in the bathroom to save his hide. I hope that Judge doesn't fall for that ridiculous story, because it is up to HER. We will now see if there is any justice there at all, or if they just decide to let him get away with murder.

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jupiterjef April 14 2014 at 8:29 PM

First of all, there was no intruder. Who grabs a gun, then goes to a locked bathroom door, and starts firing"random" shots, when there was no intruder. ...maybe OJ, but that's even a stretch for him. Too bad they don't have the death penalty, cause if there was ever a case for it, this is it!

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Sage April 14 2014 at 5:54 PM

Too bad the law is the same over here, it would save us billion of dollars. Get them on the stand and don't let up.

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2 replies
jdvernell Sage April 14 2014 at 6:05 PM

Here they don't even take the stand are you serious? They would never convict him here based on the awful witnesses and botch crime scene. He might get convicted of involuntary manslaughter here at best. I would never go to trial without a jury and after 47 years of criminal defense work my husband has won with much better evidence than this. The prosecutor would be hated here, too much name calling and badgering, that is not practicing law, it is practicing being a pitbull but may have backfired.

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jdvernell Sage April 14 2014 at 6:07 PM

BTW do you want to go back to the rubber hose method? The law is not equal in any country for any man. We have so many innocent men incarcerated it is disgusting, you need to be able to PAY the best to get the best representation anywhere.

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sarasotaduff April 14 2014 at 5:52 PM

I don't know the layout of the house but it seems to me that a burgler/intruder would try to leave the house fast if someone yelled, "Who's there?" and not lock themselves in a dead end bathrom with no way out. Locking one's self in a bathroom is more what someone would do if they lived there and their roommate was trying to hit them, etc.

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2 replies
elleyboo0706 sarasotaduff April 14 2014 at 6:03 PM

That is very true! I have been in an abusive relationship myself and that was one of the places I would lock myself into to get away from my abuser.

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1 reply
jdvernell elleyboo0706 April 14 2014 at 6:20 PM

I would run especially if the guy didn't have legs. She DID NOT live with him.

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sharon barger sarasotaduff April 14 2014 at 6:07 PM

Exactly! You took the words right out of my mouth!!!

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shrynf April 14 2014 at 5:52 PM

Amazing, you have a house guest and you never lay eyes on that guest yet you choose to shoot into a closed bathroom door as if a intruder would close themselves into a bathroom. Makes no sense and I hope the judge sees that. SMH if he gets away like OJ.

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1 reply
Miss Beverly shrynf April 14 2014 at 6:17 PM


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IN MY OPINION ONLY April 14 2014 at 5:50 PM

Quit that showmanship act. He should accept his guilt and be hanged immediately? Remember that his girl broke news that she was seeing a full legged gentleman, it was his rage of jealousy?

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1 reply
oldfarrk IN MY OPINION ONLY April 14 2014 at 5:57 PM

No death penalty in South Africa .

Flag Reply +1 rate up
ajccorp April 14 2014 at 5:47 PM

He is a guilty bastard

Flag Reply +10 rate up
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