Chief prosecutor Gerrie Nel was unrelenting on Tuesday, as he ended his cross-examination of Oscar Pistorius by painstakingly examining details from the night when the sprinter shot and killed his model girlfriend Reeva Steenkamp.
On the fifth and final day of cross-examination in Pretoria, South Africa, Nel insisted that the Olympian’s version of events last Feb. 14 — that he mistook the 29-year-old model for an intruder — was false, and insisted that the couple had argued before Pistorius shot her through the bathroom door.
“I put it to you that your version [of events] is so improbable, that it cannot be possibly reasonably true,” said Nel.
“I disagree,” replied the defendant.
Pistorius maintains that Steenkamp was in bed when he woke in the night and went to fetch a fan from the balcony. He then claims to have heard a noise from the bathroom — apparently the opening of a window. Presuming it was an intruder, he grabbed his gun and shot through the toilet door, killing his girlfriend, he says, by mistake.
But Nel cast doubt whether Steenkamp could have opened the bathroom window, entered the adjoining toilet cubicle and voided her bladder during those moments.
“Mr Pistorius, on my understanding there would not have been enough time for her to have done that,” said Nel.
“I disagree,” replied the defendant.
Nel also asked why somebody as neat as Steenkamp would have left her jeans inside out, as they were pictured in police photographs, unless she was in a frantic hurry.
“It indicates that fact that she had to take it off quickly and did not have time,” he said
“When I got home Reeva was in her pajamas, she had just arrived minutes before me from the gates,” replied Pistorius. “I don’t know why she left her jeans inside out.”
“I put it to you that it was because of your argument,” said Nel. “She wanted to leave, there was an argument, she had to get undressed quickly.”
Nel asked Pistorius to demonstrate the breaking down of the toilet door in court and explain the moments after he found Steenkamp critically injured.
“I got the cricket bat and ran back to the toilet and tried to hit the door. I remember the first time I hit the door I was screaming,” said Pistorius. “I was overcome with terror and despair.”
“You weren’t screaming at Reeva because she was hiding in the toilet, were you?” challenged Nel.
Having gained access to the toilet, Pistorius described cradling his blood-soaking girlfriend during her last moments.
“I sat over her, I crouched down over her and I put my arm underneath her and I checked to see if she was breathing or had a pulse,” he said, voice quivering.
“I pulled her around onto me and then I heard her breathing and immediately tried to pick her up and bring her out of the toilet. I wasn’t able to pick her up.”
Nel summed up by saying that Pistorius had fired four shots through the toilet door knowing Steenkamp was inside, and that he had armed himself solely for the purpose or hurting her, but afterwards became overwhelmed after realizing what he had done.
“It’s more getting more and more improbable and you’re tailoring more and more of the evidence as we go along,” said Nel.
Pistorius stands charged with murder, first-degree murder and culpable homicide. He denies all charges but faces a minimum of 25 years in jail if convicted.
The case continues.
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