11 key moments of the Oscar Pistorius trial

11 key moments of the Oscar Pistorius trial

After a harrowing and exhausting six months of stop-start testimonies and cross-examinations, these are the key events during the biggest trial in post-Apartheid South African history.

1. Pistorius pleads not guilty

Oscar Pistorius pleads not guilty to all charges on the first day of the trial. He claims the death of Reeva Steenkamp was a mistake as he believed there was an intruder on the other side of the bathroom door.

2. The first witness tells of "blood-curdling screams"

Pistorius' former neighbour, Michelle Burger, told the court that she heard "a woman's terrible screams" coming from the athlete's home on the night in question. She said the screams became more intense and then she heard gun shots. The athlete's lawyer said that Burger "was not sure" what she heard and that her pre-trial statement contradicted what she was now saying in court.

3. Steenkamp's mother speaks out

While Steenkamp's mother, June, did not speak in court, she spoke to the media for the first time early on in the trial. She said she had to see Pistorius in court because she wanted to make sure he knew she was there representing her daughter.

4. Witness claims: I have been intimidated

Witness Charl Johnson told the court he had received intimidating messages after his mobile number had been read out in court. He said that one message read: “Why are you lying in court? We know Oscar didn’t kill Reeva. It’s not cool, come on man.”

5. Pistorius throws up due to distressing evidence

6. Police blunders exposed

A former policeman who was the first on the scene revealed that one of the officers had handled Pistorius' gun without wearing gloves, thus giving the defence cause to question the police investigation into the death of Steenkamp.

7. Pistorius takes to the stand

Pistorius starts to give evidence for the first time. His voice trembled as he apologised to Steenkamp's family for his actions.

"There hasn't been a moment since this tragedy happened that I haven't thought about your family. I wake up every morning, and you're the first people I think of, the first people I pray for... I was simply trying to protect Reeva. I can promise that when she went to bed that night she felt loved."

8. Video emerges of Pistorius shooting a watermelon

The prosecution shows a video of Pistorius firing a gun at a watermelon at a shooting range, with the athlete commenting that the melon was "softer than brains".

9. The trial is stopped for psychiatric evaluation

The trial comes to a halt on May 12 after an expert suggests Pistorius be placed under psychiatric observation as he may have anxiety disorder. The trial resumes on June 30 after a panel of psychiatrists conclude Pistorius is not suffering any mental illness.

10. Expert tells court that Pistorius' disability makes him vulnerable

Medical expert Wayne Derman says that due to Pistorius' disability and his vulnerability, his initial reaction to danger is to fight rather than flee. He said Pistorius had an "exaggerated fight or flight response", adding: "You have a paradox of an individual who is supremely able and an individual who is significantly disabled," he told the court.

11. Pistorius accused of being a 'deceitful and appalling witness' in closing arguments

The defence counsel Barry Roux told the court the athlete had "built up" an exaggerated fear of crime and snapped the same way a victim of domestic violence would have done after years of abuse. Meanwhile, prosecutor Gerrie Nel accused the athlete of being a "deceitful and appalling witness" and claimed he had consistently tailored his version of events.

More: Why today is as much about Reeva Steenkamp as Oscar Pistorius


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