Oscar Pistorius trial: 'Pit bull' prosecutor Gerrie Nel grills athlete in dramatic cross-examination

 

Oscar Pistorius was left shaken after an extremely graphic photograph of Reeva Steenkamp's head wound was shown in court as State Prosecutor Gerrie Nel began his cross-examination demanding he "take responsibility" for killing his girlfriend.

On the first day of cross-examination, Mr Nel, known in South Africa as the 'pit bull', asked for permission to show a video in which the athlete is seen firing at a watermelon at a shooting range and appears to whisper: "It's softer than brain, but f**k it's a zombie stopper".

He went on to show a graphic photograph of Ms Steenkamp's head wound caused by a Black Talon bullet that impacted her right temple after Pistorius shot her three times through a locked toilet door on Valentine's Day last year.

Mr Nel told the athlete Ms Steenkamp's head "exploded" just like the watermelon did, and asked him to look at the photograph, which showed a side view of the model's head, with a mass of blood and human tissue on the back and upper parts, and her eyes closed. 

"It's time you look at it", he added, urging him to take responsibility for taking Ms Steenkamp's life. A sobbing Pistorius turned away from the television screen and told the court he was "tormented" by the events that took place in the early hours of 14 February.

He added: "I've taken responsibility, but 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."

Prosecutor Gerrie Nel referred to a video of Pistorius shooting a watermelon at a firing range where the athlete is overheard saying: "It's softer than a brain, but f**k it's a zombie stopper" Mr Nel also demanded the athlete openly admitted he shot and killed his girlfriend. The prosecutor insisted her death wasn't just an "accident" and asked him to repeat the words: I shot and killed Reeva Steenkamp in one of the most dramatic scenes yet.

"You killed Reeva Steenkamp, didn't you?" he asked at the start of questioning. "You made a mistake? You killed a person. You killed Reeva Steenkamp. Say it. Say I shot and killed Reeva Steenkamp."

"I did, my lady," Pistorius tearfully replied.

Mr Nel accused the athlete of "not listening" to his questions and telling the court well "rehearsed answers" over and over. Pistorius told the court he was telling the truth and was under pressure because his life is "on the line".

"Please answer the questions, don't argue the case," Mr Nel warned. "You will get into trouble."

After the aggressive start to his cross-examination, Mr Nel began to poke holes in Pistorius's bail statement where he claimed police contaminated the crime scene and tampered evidence.

Pistorius insisted that "things were moved".

 

In a new development, the athlete told the court his bail application had wrongly stated he went onto his balcony to collect a fan. Today, he told his murder trial he grabbed a fan that was on the balcony.

He added: "I never went onto the balcony. I got the fan that was on the balcony. I admit that it is incorrect that I went onto the balcony. I collected the fan from the balcony."

READ MORE: OSCAR PISTORIUS'S BAIL AFFIDAVIT IN FULL

An emotional Pistorius insisted he never intended "to kill Reeva, or anyone else" and discharged his firearm in the belief that an intruder was coming out to attack him. He was scared and wasn't wearing his prosthetic legs.

"I went to the bathroom so I could put myself between what I perceived was danger and Reeva. To approach in the time I did, I didn't have time to think. I was dealt with a set of circumstances that I was trying to deal with."

Earlier in his evidence, Pistorius described the dramatic moments that followed the shooting, after he realised he had shot Ms Steenkamp through a locked toilet door, in what he claims was a case of mistaken identity.

Pistorius told Pretoria's High Court that he put his hand on her hip, where she had been shot, to stop the bleeding and placed his fingers on her mouth to help her breathe.

The athlete told the court Ms Steenkamp died in his arms.

Pistorius said he felt helpless and that he wanted to take her to a hospital, but a neighbor advised him to wait for paramedics to arrive at the Silver Woods estate.

"The paramedics arrived. They asked for some space to work so I stood up," he said. "Reeva had already died while I was holding her, before the ambulance arrived, so I knew there was nothing they could do for her."

Police arrived at the scene soon after.

"Every time I looked up there were more people in the house. There were more policemen. There were people going up and down the stairs. I was standing in the kitchen.

"I asked a policeman if I could wash my hands because the smell of the blood was making me throw up," Pistorius said. "Every time I saw Reeva, I got sick. So I stayed inside the kitchen. I sat in the pantry against the washing machine."

He was then told to go to the garage and later told he was under arrest. Police advised him to keep his head down while exiting the house because there was "a lot of media" waiting for him.

Yesterday, Pistorius sobbed uncontrollably as he described the moment he realised Ms Steenkamp wasn't in bed and smashed down the toilet door to reach her. By the time Pistorius entered the toilet, Ms Steenkamp "wasn't breathing".

He told the court he feared an intruder had entered the house after hearing the sound of a "window sliding open". Pistorius told the court he asked Ms Steenkamp to call the police immediately.

He then heard the sound of a door slamming shut, which he said convinced him an intruder was already inside his bedroom and shot at the toilet door four times using his 9mm pistol. 

READ MORE:  CRIME SCENE PHOTOGRAPHS REVEAL BRUTAL SHOOTING

Prosecutors argue he intentionally shot and killed the 29-year old model following a domestic dispute.

There are no juries at trials in South Africa and Pistorius's fate will ultimately be decided by Judge Masipa, assisted by two assessors.

The case continues.

Travel
travel
News
Tim Vine has won the funniest joke award at the Edinburgh Festival 2014
peopleTim Vine, winner of the Funniest Joke of the Fringe award, has nigh-on 200 in his act. So how are they conceived?
News
Jamie and Emily Pharro discovering their friend's prank
video
Arts and Entertainment
Taylor Swift crawls through the legs of twerking dancers in her 'Shake It Off' music video
musicEarl Sweatshirt thinks so
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
ebooksAn evocation of the conflict through the eyes of those who lived through it
News
Our resilience to stress is to a large extent determined by our genes
science
Travel
travel
Arts and Entertainment
tv
Sport
sportBesiktas 0 Arsenal 0: Champions League qualifying first-leg match ends in stalemate in Istanbul
News
Pornography is more accessible - and harder to avoid - than ever
news... but they still admit watching it
Arts and Entertainment
The eyes have it: Kate Bush
musicKate Bush asks fans not to take photos at London gigs
News
i100
Extras
indybest
Sport
Manchester United are believed to have made a £15m bid for Marcos Rojo
sportWinger Nani returns to Lisbon for a season-long loan as part of deal
News
news
News
i100
Arts and Entertainment
O'Toole as Cornelius Gallus in ‘Katherine of Alexandria’
filmSadly though, the Lawrence of Arabia star is not around to lend his own critique
Independent
Travel Shop
the manor
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on city breaks Find out more
santorini
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on chic beach resorts Find out more
sardina foodie
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on country retreats Find out more
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Marketing & Commnunications Executive, London

£30000 - £34000 per annum: Charter Selection: This highly successful organisat...

Junior Database developer (SQL, T-SQL, Excel, SSRS, Crystal rep

£25000 - £30000 per annum + bonus+benefits+package: Harrington Starr: Junior D...

Residential Property

Very Competitive: Austen Lloyd: Residential Conveyancer - Wiltshire We have a...

Property Finance Partner

Very Competitive Salary: Austen Lloyd: LONDON - BANKING / PROPERTY FINANCE - ...

Day In a Page

Ferguson: In the heartlands of America, a descent into madness

A descent into madness in America's heartlands

David Usborne arrived in Ferguson, Missouri to be greeted by a scene more redolent of Gaza and Afghanistan
BBC’s filming of raid at Sir Cliff’s home ‘may be result of corruption’

BBC faces corruption allegation over its Sir Cliff police raid coverage

Reporter’s relationship with police under scrutiny as DG is summoned by MPs to explain extensive live broadcast of swoop on singer’s home
Lauded therapist Harley Mille still in limbo as battle to stay in Britain drags on

Lauded therapist still in limbo as battle to stay in Britain drags on

Australian Harley Miller is as frustrated by court delays as she is with the idiosyncrasies of immigration law
Lewis Fry Richardson's weather forecasts changed the world. But could his predictions of war do the same?

Lewis Fry Richardson's weather forecasts changed the world...

But could his predictions of war do the same?
Kate Bush asks fans not to take photos at her London gigs: 'I want to have contact with the audience, not iPhones'

'I want to have contact with the audience, not iPhones'

Kate Bush asks fans not to take photos at her London gigs
Under-35s have rated gardening in their top five favourite leisure activities, but why?

Young at hort

Under-35s have rated gardening in their top five favourite leisure activities. But why are so many people are swapping sweaty clubs for leafy shrubs?
Tim Vine, winner of the Funniest Joke of the Fringe award: 'making a quip as funny as possible is an art'

Beyond a joke

Tim Vine, winner of the Funniest Joke of the Fringe award, has nigh-on 200 in his act. So how are they conceived?
The late Peter O'Toole shines in 'Katherine of Alexandria' despite illness

The late Peter O'Toole shines in 'Katherine of Alexandria' despite illness

Sadly though, the Lawrence of Arabia star is not around to lend his own critique
Wicken Fen in Cambridgeshire: The joy of camping in a wetland nature reserve and sleeping under the stars

A wild night out

Wicken Fen in Cambridgeshire offers a rare chance to camp in a wetland nature reserve
Comic Sans for Cancer exhibition: It’s the font that’s openly ridiculed for its jaunty style, but figures of fun have their fans

Comic Sans for Cancer exhibition

It’s the font that’s openly ridiculed for its jaunty style, but figures of fun have their fans
Besiktas vs Arsenal: Five things we learnt from the Champions League first-leg tie

Besiktas vs Arsenal

Five things we learnt from the Champions League first-leg tie
Rory McIlroy a smash hit on the US talk show circuit

Rory McIlroy a smash hit on the US talk show circuit

As the Northern Irishman prepares for the Barclays, he finds time to appear on TV in the States, where he’s now such a global superstar that he needs no introduction
Boy racer Max Verstappen stays relaxed over step up to Formula One

Boy racer Max Verstappen stays relaxed over step up to F1

The 16-year-old will become the sport’s youngest-ever driver when he makes his debut for Toro Rosso next season
Fear brings the enemies of Isis together at last

Fear brings the enemies of Isis together at last

But belated attempts to unite will be to no avail if the Sunni caliphate remains strong in Syria, says Patrick Cockburn
Charlie Gilmour: 'I wondered if I would end up killing myself in jail'

Charlie Gilmour: 'I wondered if I'd end up killing myself in jail'

Following last week's report on prison suicides, the former inmate asks how much progress we have made in the 50 years since the abolition of capital punishment