“I think today is a good day to tell you that I love you”(Steenkamp)- Oscar Pistorius trial 15 April: Pistorius’ last day on the stand

Today was the day, finally, that Nel rounded up his cross examination of Pistorius.  I have previously said that I couldn’t wait for this to be over, in part because it was getting tedious but also because I was keen to see what damage control Barry Roux was going to do in re-examination.  Well, Roux certainly kept this short and sweet.  Someone on my Twitter feed (apologies I can’t remember who) suggested that this was because Roux wanted to show Judge Masipa that Pistorius’ version was the absolute truth and that as his lawyer, Roux didn’t think it necessary to do damage control.  This does make sense, arguing further to counter what Nel had to say would appear like an attempt to “cover Pistorius’ tracks” if you will.  Instead, not doing this demonstrates a sense of confidence (whether real or faux) in Pistorius’ version of events.

To end his cross-examination, Nel focused on the moments after the shooting and when Pistorius found Steenkamp’s body.  Again, it was a predictable “your version is improbable” from Nel and even more predictable tears from Pistorius.  The placement on the magazine rack was discussed again, Nel insisting that it hadn’t been moved.  To be honest, this part of the discussion is quite complex to articulate in retrospect, so here’s a link to a live feed of the day: http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-africa-27031066.  Nel round edup his cross-examination to the tune of the improbabilities of Pistorius’ version and I will be honest at this stage I was fully prepared for a lengthy re-examination on Roux’s part.

Roux began by asking Pistorius what he meant by saying he shot her by “accident”.  Like I mentioned in yesterday’s recap (http://bitsbones.wordpress.com/2014/04/14/get-the-fk-out-of-my-house-oscar-pistorius-trial-14-april-pistorius-takes-the-stand/) I think what he means to say is that pulling the trigger was a knee jerk reaction to a noise he claims to have heard in the toilet cubicle.  Basically Pistorius claims he didn’t consciously pull the trigger.

Roux then got Pistorius to read out the Valentine’s Day card from Steenkamp, that he eventually opened on her birthday last year.  The image below is a photo of it, but quite pertinently the line “I think today is a good day to tell you that I love you” does imply a loving and happy relationship even on the night of her death.

The Valentine's Day card and gift that Steenkamp was due to give to Pistorius (http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-africa-27041156)

The Valentine’s Day card and gift that Steenkamp was due to give to Pistorius (http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-africa-27041156)

And with that, Pistorius’ time on the witness stand came to an end. Another defence witness was examined today but like I have done with previous weeks, I will round this up with the rest of the week’s evidence over the weekend.

Overall, I think Pistorius hasn’t done his case many favours this past week. I can’t believe its been one day over a week since he first took the stand, it feels like we’ve been going for ages!  While I disagree with Nel that Pistorius’ version is impossible, I do think that the little chips Nel has made in the defence’s case could end up swaying the case against them.  I’m still at a loss of what version to believe, on the one hand, if Pistorius’ version is true then he was truly irrational, reckless and hasty with the way he acted.  As much as I have spent my life idolising him, even if his story is the truth he must do jail time, not for premeditated murder and not for the extended sentence the state are seeking but for at the very least involuntary manslaughter.  If we are to believe the state’s version of events, do I think its enough for a premeditated or first degree murder?  No, I really think above all else, there has been no indication of planning or forethought of this murder.  The state has painted Pistorius as selfish and cunning, so I do think if these are attributes of his, he would be fully aware of the consequences of his actions (ie. destroyed career, reputation etc.) and so can’t be something he would’ve planned.  Crime of passion is what I think that state would’ve been better off with from the get go, easier to argue and still a long prison sentence.

For me, I think I’m going to wait it out to hear the rest of the evidence to make my decision; at this stage it looks like we may be facing a two week postponement sometime this week so I may have to wait a while.  I am considering doing is a post about my prediction for the verdict after the defence has rested its case, before Judge Masipa announces her verdict, just for interest sakes as I think a lot of people will be hedging bets on what she concludes.

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