Oscar’s lawyers start damage controlComment on this story
Pretoria - The defence in the Oscar Pistorius trial has started its attempts to recover from a brutal closing argument by the state that went on for most of the day.
Pistorius is accused of murdering his model girlfriend, Reeva Steenkamp, and this morning, prosecutor Gerrie Nel spent hours deriding the athlete's testimony. The state argued that Pistorius was tailoring his evidence throughout the trial, and that the court should throw out the athlete's testimony entirely.
Defence advocate Barry Roux began his own heads of argument late this afternoon, starting with some of the “material mistakes” made by Gerrie Nel in his own closing arguments.
He said that the first “shots” allegedly heard by some of the neighbours on the night of the shooting were never explained by the state. These shots were supposedly heard prior to a series of screams and another set of “shots”, implying Reeva Steenkamp was able to scream after being shot the first time, contradicting Pistorius' testimony.
Roux said that the state can't legally use the reckless gun charges against Pistorius to bolster the murder case against him.
He also attacked Nel's argument that Pistorius' anxiety was only brought up in court to explain why he had shot through the bathroom door at Steenkamp.
Roux said that just because Pistorius is an anxious person does not mean he will always react the same way, especially in an unpredictable situation like thinking an intruder was in his home.
Roux also argued that the state did not call all of its listed witnesses, and this was wrong because the state is in possession of affidavits by some of these witnesses that contradicted those who testified. He noted that initial investigating officer, Hilton Botha had specifically not been called because his testimony would have affected the state's case. He said crucial witnesses were simply not called.
Roux responded to the allegations that the defence allegedly believed police tampered with the crime scene as part of a conspiracy against the athlete.
But Roux argued it was not a conspiracy, and rather police incompetence that led to discrepancies between Pistorius' version of the crime scene and the reality.
The advocate insisted that a missing item from the room, an extension cord, went missing and could not be found when requested during trial.
Other images taken at the scene also showed one investigator touching a plug point despite him claiming on the court record that he did not touch anything during his investigation.
“We're not saying “conspiracy”... but the scene was disturbed,” said Roux.
“You can't make the accused a liar because police disturb the scene,” he added.
Roux admitted that a shooting incident at a Tasha's restaurant that resulted in a negligent use of firearms charge for Pistorius was negligent but that he “would get to that”. However, he denied the accusation that Pistorius blamed others for the gun going off in the crowded restaurant.
Nel had argued earlier that Steenkamp had locked herself up in the bathroom cubicle and was still talking or arguing with Pistorius before being shot. But Roux insisted this was incongruent with state witness claims they heard “blood-curdling” screams from Steenkamp before the shots.
The defence has said throughout the trial that the screams heard by neighbours were actually Pistorius himself in a state of extreme agitation.
Roux said the state had not properly questioned such inconsistencies during proceedings, and had avoided material objective facts on purpose.
He said the defence would properly establish the timeline of the screams, shots and bangs using their own witnesses tomorrow.
Roux will continue his argument on Friday.