Oscar Pistorius prosecutors 'twisted facts', defence says

A recap of the final day of evidence in the Oscar Pistorius trial

Prosecutors have twisted the facts to discredit South African athlete Oscar Pistorius in his murder trial, his lawyer has said in closing remarks.

Barry Roux said the double amputee should have faced a lesser charge of culpable homicide over the shooting of his girlfriend Reeva Steenkamp.

Mr Pistorius denies prosecution claims that he deliberately shot Ms Steenkamp.

But Mr Roux conceded that he should be found guilty of negligence for discharging a firearm in a restaurant.

June and Barry Steenkamp during in the Pretoria High Court on 8 August 2014 Reeva Steenkamp's parents were both in court to hear the defence's closing arguments

The Olympic athlete pleaded not guilty to all the charges he faces, including two counts of shooting a firearm in public and the illegal possession of ammunition.

In the early hours of Valentine's Day last year, he says he mistook his girlfriend - a model and law graduate - for an intruder when he shot her through a toilet door in his home in South Africa's capital, Pretoria.

At the end of the session on Friday, Judge Thokozile Matilda Masipa adjourned the trial until 11 September when she will deliver her verdict. She and her assessors have 4,000 pages of evidence to consider.

'Slow burn'

The prosecution tried to characterise Mr Pistorius as a "hothead" who intentionally killed Ms Steenkamp after an argument.

His defence team portrayed him as having a heightened response to perceived danger due to his disability and background.

In court on Friday, Mr Roux said growing up with a disability conditioned Mr Pistorius always to confront danger because he could not flee.

He described it as a "slow burn" of insecurities and compared it to an abused woman shooting her abuser.

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Analysis: Pumza Fihlani, BBC News, Pretoria
Oscar Pistorius in court on Friday 8 August 2014

Barry Roux tore into testimony given by some of Oscar Pistorius' neighbours during his rebuttal of the prosecution's case. The Stipps couple said they heard a woman's screams shortly before hearing gunshots, which goes against Mr Pistorius' version that Reeva Steenkamp did not scream at any point before she died. The defence lawyer spent a lot time discrediting their evidence, describing it as "unreliable".

He also made a compelling argument to show police tampering with the crime scene. The minute-by-minute timeline presented by the defence also seemed detrimental to the prosecution's assertion that there was an argument before the shooting.

But the fact that Ms Steenkamp was killed is not disputed, so now the judge must decide if it was murder or culpable homicide. Mr Roux urged her to evaluate Mr Pistorius as a reasonable man and then consider his actions in the light of his disability and anxiety disorder.

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Mr Roux also dealt with phone data evidence on the night of the shooting to show that the timeline of events fits the defence's argument that Mr Pistorius fired the shots at the toilet door first on his stumps.

Realising he had shot Ms Steenkamp by mistake, the defence says Mr Pistorius put on his prosthetics and used a cricket bat to knock down the door at 03.17 local time - five minutes after he says shots were fired.

Defence lawyer Barry Roux: "I don't see this motive. It does not make sense"

The prosecution alleges that the noises heard at 03:17 were the shots being fired.

Mr Roux said analysis of the evidence showed there was anxious high-pitched screaming followed by shouts of "help, help, help" between the two sounds, which near neighbours say were made by a man, not a woman as other witnesses testified.

Earlier, the defence said that there had been "no respect for the crime scene", saying the state's case was discredited as Mr Pistorius' house was tampered with inadvertently, with a fan and duvet being moved.

File photo: Oscar Pistorius (right) and his girlfriend Reeva Steenkamp pose for a picture in Johannesburg, 7 February 2013 Mr Pistorius and his girlfriend Reeva Steenkamp had been dating for three months before the fatal shooting

Mr Roux also hit back at the "baker's dozen" of inconsistencies noted by state prosecutor Gerrie Nel on Thursday.

In his closing statement, Mr Nel argued the athlete "cannot escape" a murder conviction, accusing him of being a "deceitful witness" who told the court a "snowball of lies".

He said the athlete's lawyers had presented two lines of defence that "can never be reconciled".

Mr Pistorius said he had fired both involuntarily and also out of fear, Mr Nel argued, insisting the court had to choose only one of his defences.

Last month, a psychiatric report said Mr Pistorius had post-traumatic stress disorder but no mental illness that could prevent him being held criminally responsible for his actions.

If found guilty of murder, the 27-year-old, who went on trial on 3 March, could face life imprisonment.

If he is acquitted of that charge, the court will consider an alternative charge of culpable homicide, for which he could - if convicted - receive about 15 years in prison.

For the first time since the trial began in March, the fathers of Oscar Pistorius and Reeva Steenkamp appeared in court for the closing arguments.

INTERACTIVE
  • ×

  • 1. Balcony

    × Balcony

    Mr Pistorius said in his statement at the start of the trial that he woke in the early hours and walked on his stumps to the balcony, pulled in two fans, closed the sliding door and drew curtains. He said that shortly before he had spoken to Reeva, who was in bed beside him.

    He said he rejected prosecution claims that a witness heard arguing coming from the house before the shooting.

  • 2. Bathroom window

    ×

    Mr Pistorius said he heard the bathroom window sliding open and believed that an intruder, or intruders, had entered the bathroom through a window which was not fitted with burglar bars.

    "Unbeknown to me, Reeva must have gone to the toilet in the bathroom at the time I brought in the fans," he said.

    Mr Pistorius said he approached the bathroom armed with his firearm, to defend himself and his girlfriend, believing Ms Steenkamp was still in bed.

  • 3. Shooting

    ×

    Both sides agree four bullets were fired. Ms Steenkamp was hit three times.

    Mr Pistorius said he fired his weapon after hearing a noise in the toilet which he thought was the intruder coming out of the toilet to attack him and Ms Steenkamp.

    He said he was in a fearful state, knowing he was on his stumps and unable to run away or properly defend himself.

    Mr Pistorius said he rejected claims that he was on his prostheses when he shot at the door.

    A witness told the trial she woke to hear a woman screaming and a man shouting for help. She said that after the screams she heard four shots.

  • 4. Bedroom

    ×

    Mr Pistorius said he went back to the bedroom after shooting at the toilet door, still shouting for Reeva. Lifting himself up onto the bed, he felt over to the right hand side of it and noticed Ms Steenkamp was not there.

    Mr Pistorius said this was when he realised she could have been in the toilet.

  • 5. Toilet door

    ×

    Mr Pistorius said he went back to the bathroom but the toilet was locked, so he returned to the bedroom, pulled on his prosthetic legs, turned on the lights before bashing in the toilet door with a cricket bat.

    Forensics expert Johannes Vermeulen told the court that the height of the marks on the door caused by the cricket bat suggest Mr Pistorius was on his stumps at the time.

  • 6. Emergency calls

    ×

    Mr Pistorius's defence team say he then called security at the gated housing complex and a private paramedic service before carrying Ms Steenkamp downstairs.

    A security guard claimed it was the other way round, and he had called Mr Pistorius first after reports of gunfire. However, phone records shown to the court revealed Mr Pistorius called the estate manager at 3:19am, a minute later he called the ambulance service and at 3:21am he called estate security.

    A minute later he received an incoming call - estate security calling him back.

    According to police phone expert Francois Moller, Mr Pistorius called his friend Justin Divaris a short time later and just after 4:00am he called his brother Carl.

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