To close the first week of Oscar Pistorius’ testimony during his murder trial for killing girlfriend Reeva Steenkamp, the prosecution in Pretoria, South Africa, claimed the double-amputee was talking to the model in a locked bathroom after an argument when he fired four fatal shots through the door.
The dramatic scenario was denied by Pistorius, who has admitted to firing the deadly shots, but claims he thought a burglar had entered his home in the early-morning hours of Valentine’s Day, 2013.
“She was standing behind the toilet door talking to you when you shot her,” chief prosecutor Gerrie Nel said to Pistorius, adding that the couple arguing was the only “reasonable explanation” for why she was standing behind the cubicle door and facing it.
“That’s not true,” Pistorius replied.
Pistorius says he shouted at what he thought was an intruder in his house and also at Steenkamp to call the police. Nel said that if that were the case, she would not have stood up against the door. She would have retreated away from it. And she would have responded to Pistorius, the chief prosecutor said.
“I don’t think anybody could say where she would have stood,” Pistorius replied.
The double-amputee Olympian is charged with premeditated murder of Steenkamp, a model and rising reality TV star. He also faces gun and ammunition possession charges.
Nel led the double-amputee runner through his own account of what happened in those moments before he shot Steenkamp. He said he heard a noise in the bathroom and moved down a passage on his stumps toward the bathroom while screaming to his girlfriend — who he claims he had believed was in the bedroom — to get down and call the police.
Pistorius says he then heard what sounded like the toilet door slamming; then kept quiet as he reached the bathroom entrance; then heard a noise in the toilet that he perceived to be the sound of wood on wood, which he said made him think someone was opening the toilet door — which he said fit badly in the frame — to attack him. And then, Pistorius said, he opened fire.
At each stage, Nel argued that the account was improbable, questioning why Pistorius did not establish where Steenkamp was and make sure she was OK, and why he would approach the alleged danger zone if he felt vulnerable on his stumps.
“If you spoke to Reeva, the two of you could have taken lots of other steps,” Nel said.
Pistorius said he thought the perceived threat could strike at any moment.
“There was no time,” he insisted.
Nel also highlighted what he said was an inconsistency in Pistorius’ testimony, noting that the Olympic runner had said Steenkamp didn’t scream when he shot that night but also saying he could hear very little because his ears were “ringing” from the first gunshot.
“You knew that Reeva was behind the door and you shot at her knowing that she was behind that door,” Nel said.
“That’s not true, my lady,” Pistorius said, addressing the judge.
His testimony will continue next week.