The defense of Oscar Pistorius is falling apart after several days of wicked cross-examination by Gerrie Nel, the South African prosecutor who some refer to as a “pit bull”, and by others a “bull dog”.
Either way, he continues to tear Oscar Pistorius apart.
Pistorius, the double-amputee South African Olympian, and once inspirational hero around the world, is accused of intentionally shooting his girl friend, Reeva Steenkamp, as she hid in his locked bathroom, Valentine’s Day morning, 2013.
Oscar claims he mistook her as an intruder and her death was a tragic accident.
However, the longer Pistorius is on the stand, the more his story – a version of events that seemed extremely suspect from the outset – appears to crumble.
In a trial that has been difficult but admittedly fascinating to watch, Oscar Pistorius has been highly emotional throughout, often screaming out in hysterics, sometimes retching and vomiting into a bucket, and addressing every question he answers to “My Lady”, despite the fact that prosecutor Nel – the pit bull/bull dog – is the one asking the questions.
These behaviors, coupled with the truly horrific backdrop of model and lawyer, Reeva Steenkamp, being brutally shot to death, have made the trial, and everything around it, a very uncomfortable thing to witness.
But while this discomfort used to stem from the graphic and tragic evidence, and Pistorius’ pitiable, over-the-top reactions, it now comes from watching Pistorius wilt more and more beneath what seem to be glaring lies.
Crying on the stand like a guilty thing, Oscar has nowhere to run and hide, but must just sit there and endure the prosecution’s blows. Perhaps it’s some start of vindication for the untold damage and sorrow he has caused, but it’s disconcerting nonetheless.
The beating Pistorius took today included the prosecutor’s revelation that Steenkamp had a sports bag packed and ready to go when she was shot. The only things Steenkamp hadn’t yet packed were some flip-flops and a pair of jeans, obviously indicating she was ready to leave the house.
Instead, of course, she ended up being shot by Pistorius.
Reeva being ready to leave the house supports the prosecution’s contention that the couple were in a heated argument, not peacefully cohabitating and enjoying a good night’s sleep as Oscar contends, before he fired into the locked bathroom door at a supposed “intruder”.
From there, Nel pressed Pistorius further, tripping him up on details of whether or not the bathroom door had slammed, what he was thinking throughout, and finally what he had screamed, and who he had screamed at, in the chaos right before he fired.
Nel implied that Oscar was indeed screaming at Reeva and not any intruder at all.
“I screamed!” Pistorius testified. “I said, ‘Get the f**k out of my house! Get the f**k out of my house!”
Oscar then launched into one of his hysterical break downs, crying and wailing until the judge had to call for a recess.
Nel has continually questioned Pistorius about why he gets so emotional, suggesting not just that the outbursts are contrived but also that they’re driven by his guilt for intentionally shooting Reeva in a rage, not accidentally shooting her out of fear.
“Is it about what happened, or the questions and your frustration with answering them?” Nel asked Oscar.
“It’s emotional memories for me,” replied Pistorius.
But for Nel there’s a lot more to Pistorius’ outbursts than just tough memories:
“You’re getting frustrated because your version is improbable,” said Nel. “You will not use your emotional state as an escape.”
So, while Oscar Pistorius clings to his story, that he was just trying to protect himself and Steenkamp from a perceived intruder, Nel has made that story more and more difficult to keep cobbled together:
Why can’t Oscar remember if he whispered to Reeva, in “low tones”, before getting out of bed to check out the noise he heard?
Why can’t Oscar explain why the food found in Steenkamp’s stomach suggests she ate long after the 7 pm meal Pistorius claims they enjoyed together?
“I don’t have an explanation for the questions he’s putting to me,” Pistorius said.
Another question Oscar can’t explain is why his version of events has evolved into two distinct defenses – one in which he fires in fear, without thinking, the other where he responded, considered, and then fired at his perceived attackers.
Pistorius also caved to Nel about his fear that someone used a ladder to get into his home, when in fact, he never looked outside the window after the shooting to see if a ladder was there.
Perhaps Oscar Pistorius will have some answers today when he takes the stand.