THE chief prosecutor in Oscar Pistorius’ murder trial yesterday urged the athlete to “take responsibility” for fatally shooting his girlfriend, while urging him to look at a police photograph of Reeva Steenkamp’s bullet-mutilated head.
Prosecutor Gerrie Nel said Ms Steenkamp’s head “exploded” when it was struck by one of four hollow-point bullets the double-amputee runner fired through a toilet door in his home last year. The photograph showed a side view of her head. Her eyes were closed.
“It’s time that you look at it,” Mr Nel said on the first day of his cross-examination of Pistorius in Pretoria, South Africa.
“I remember,” Pistorius said, turning away from the photo was shown on a TV screen.
“I will not look at a picture where I’m tormented by what I saw and felt that night. As I picked Reeva up, my fingers touched her head. I remember. I don’t have to look at a picture, I was there.”
Mr Nel had set the stage for a rigorous cross-examination by demanding Pistorius openly say he killed his girlfriend, challenging him when he said he made a “mistake.”
Mr Nel showed a video of the Olympic athlete firing a gun at a watermelon and saying it was “softer than brains” and calling the .50-calibre handgun a “zombie stopper”.
Defence lawyer Barry Roux had earlier objected to the gun video being shown, saying it was inadmissible character evidence and amounted to a legal “ambush”. Judge Thokozile Masipa allowed the video to be shown.
Referring to the watermelon video, Mr Nel said to Pistorius: “You know the same happened to Reeva’s head? It exploded.”
Mr Pistorius, 27, starting to sob, said he was at the scene when Steenkamp died and knew of her terrible head injury.
Pistorius claims he shot the model by accident on 14 February last year, mistaking her for an intruder. The prosecution alleges he killed her by firing through a closed toilet stall door after an argument.
After an aggressive start to his cross-examination, Mr Nel also started to pick holes in details of Pistorius’ version of events.
Pistorius conceded his claim in a statement a year ago that he went out on to the balcony at his home before the shooting was incorrect. Pistorius said he went to the edge of the balcony but not outside.
Mr Nel opened by asking the athlete to acknowledge that he killed Steenkamp.
“I made a mistake,” Pistorius said.
“What was your mistake?” Mr Nel retorted.
Pistorius then said he “took Reeva’s life”.
“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 also described what he said were the last moments of his girlfriend’s life and how he dragged her, bleeding and “struggling to breathe” out of a toilet cubicle and downstairs to get help after shooting her in the head, arm and hip.
He said she died in his arms before paramedics arrived.
“Reeva had died while I was holding her,” he said, telling how he put his fingers in her mouth to try to help her breathe and put his hand on her hip to try to stop bleeding from one of several gunshot wounds.”
The trial continues.