After seven harsh days of cross examination, Oscar Pistorius was allowed off the stand, but not until after reading the Valentine’s card Reeva Steenkamp had given him before he tragically killed her with four gunshots through a locked bathroom door.
Oscar Pistorius, a double-amputee South African Olympian, claims the shooting was an accident and that he thought Reeva, who was in the bathroom, was an intruder. The prosecution contends that Oscar shot at Reeva during a heated argument as she attempted to hide behind the locked bathroom door.
Prompted by his defense advocate, Pistroius read the Valentine’s card in court today, but did not display the often out-of-control emotions that have wracked him throughout the trial.
“Roses are red, violets are blue,” read Pistorius.”I think today is a good day to tell you that I love you,” the message from Reeva concluded.
Pistorius’ reading followed the conclusion of prosecutor Gerrie Nel’s often harsh cross-examination in which Nel continuously accused Oscar of intentionally killing Steenkamp.
“She was locked into the bathroom, and you armed yourself with the sole purpose of shooting and killing her,” said Nel. “And that’s what you did. Afterwards, indeed, you were overcome by what you’d done, that is true. Only because you intentioned to kill her. You realized that.”
If convicted of murder, Pistorius faces 25 years to life in prison. South Africa doesn’t have jury trials, the ultimate decision of guilt or innocence is up to a judge.
But ABC News reports some experts believe the brutal beating Oscar Pistorius endured during cross-examination did nothing to help support his version of events, and that his testimony “may have tripped up his defense.”
“His demeanor and antics… did him more harm than good,” said attorney Anton Smith, referring to Oscar Pistorius’ hysterics, weeping and break downs.
“It seemed at stages, as Nel stated, that Oscar Pistorius might have tailored his evidence during cross-examination. Also, during cross by Nel, a lot of questions were either left unanswered or evaded by Pistorius.”
Lawyer Henk Louw also thinks Pistorius’ demeanor and the flip-flopping of his testimony in recent days are a problem. Also, both Oscar’s bail application affidavit from last year, and his plea explanation when the trial began, could work against him as “these factors all contribute to a credibility finding. The credibility of a witness, together with the evidence before the court, all play a role when the judge comes to a conclusion.”
Discrepancies between Pistorius’ court testimony and his bail application include him testifying that when he leaned over Steenkamp after the shooting, she wasn’t breathing. But in his bail application he claimed she was slumped over but still alive. Similarly, in his testimony Oscar claimed he whispered to Reeva to call the police but no such detail was included in his statement from last year.
Defense lawyer, Gideon Scheepers, said that Oscar Pistorius’ story evolving into two defenses also presents a problem for his defense team.
“The fact that Pistorius changed his version from putative self defense, based on the fear that his life was threatened by an intruder, to involuntary action basically leaves his defense team with the task to explain the discrepancy between the version pleaded and put to the witnesses, and the new version advanced under cross examination.” Scheepers said.
Image via ABC News