Oscar Trial: the state rests its case
PRETORIA – State prosecutor Gerrie Nel has wrapped up his closing arguments in the Oscar Pistorius murder trial by asking the court to convict the Paralympian on a charge of murder.
“Our submission is that the court should look at the accused’s version to see if it could be reasonably, possibly true before looking at our version. He acted with dolus eventualis by arming himself, approaching the danger and then firing through the door. That is his version,” Nel said.
“We say the best case scenario – on his own version –is that he stood in front of the door and fired shots with the intention to kill.”
Pistorius is accused of shooting his girlfriend through the toilet door in his bathroom in the early hours of the morning on Valentine’s Day last year. Pistorius claims he thought an intruder had entered his house and was going to attack him after he had heard several sounds.
“It was 3am – why would the deceased open the window? It did not happen. Why would she take her cellphone with her to the toilet? Then, he’s standing in the bathroom and he’s shouting. But she did not utter a word,” Nel said.
“It’s ridiculous. All these things the court will have to accept for his version to be true. If the door was open while she was on the toilet – she had to close it. He said she slammed it. Then she stood up, right in front of the door … That is not what a scared person would do.”
Nel said Pistorius had presented more than one defence – on one occasion saying he fired at a perceived threat and later claiming he had not wanted to shoot anyone.
Nel pointed out that the neighbours who testified for the state, who had claimed to have heard screams and gunshots, were all good witnesses whose evidence was corroborated by factual evidence.
Neighbour Estelle van der Merwe had heard the shouts of a woman at 1.36am coming from Pistorius’s house. The defence, he said, had tried to claim that she could not have heard sounds from that far and then asserted that the cries she had heard were made by Pistorius.
Pathologist Professor Gert Saayman, who conducted the post mortem, found that Steenkamp had eaten within two hours of her death.
“In his(Oscar’s) version there is just no place for the deceased having eaten. And his version that the alarm was on excludes the possibility that she could have gone downstairs and eaten,” Nel said, arguing that the court had no option but to accept that Steenkamp had not gone to sleep at 10pm as claimed.
In his conclusion, Nel argued that by arming himself with a firearm loaded with Black Talon ammunition, Pistorius was showing direct intent to kill.
“If his version of events is rejected, a conviction on murder with dolus directus is inevitable.”
“If one rejects (the) version of (the) state that the accused knew (Steenkamp) was in there, the only other possibility is that he thought there was an intruder. And if so, that is dolus directus,” said Nel.
In addressing arguments that Pistorius was a disabled man, vulnerable on his stumps and unable to defend himself, Nel argued: “We have the accused armed and ready – that is the reasonable man.”
Objectively the facts were that his target was an unarmed, vulnerable woman who was shot and killed in a toilet.
Nel said Pistorius’s arming himself and disengaging the safety catch on a firearm loaded with Black Talon ammunition amounted to pre-planning.
“If the court accepts that the deceased ate before her death, that the lights were on at the time of the shooting and that a woman screamed – the court can only convict,” Nel said.
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