Oscar Pistorius sobbed on the witness stand today while reading out a Valentine’s Day card from his girlfriend that he was due to open on the day he killed her.
Reeva Steenkamp gave the Paralympian the card and a wrapped picture frame with photographs of the pair in loving poses on the evening of February 13 last year, hours before he gunned her down.
Under questioning from his lawyer at the end of a gruelling seven-day stint in the box, the athlete was asked to read out the front of the card and the handwritten message inside.
Choking back tears, he said: ‘Roses are red, violets are blue. I think today is a good day to tell you that… I love you’.
He said the envelope said ‘Ozzy’ with ‘some hearts and a squiggle’ while the card was signed ‘Reeves’ with a smiley face and three kisses.
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‘I think today is a good day to tell you that… I love you’: Pistorius wept in court as he was asked to read out this Valentine’s Day card message which was given to him by Reeva Steenkamp, along with a wrapped picture frame with photographs of the pair in loving poses, hours before he shot her dead
Poignant: A picture of the card saying ‘Ozzy’ with two hearts and the wrapped present which Pistorius said he could not face opening for months after Miss Steenkamp’s death
Earlier in the trial, Pistorius said he could not face opening the card and present for many months after Miss Steenkamp died, but finally did so on her birthday in August last year.
The message was presented to the court in the hope it will counter prosecution claims that the couple were not in a loving relationship at the time of the shooting.
- ‘I did not fire at Reeva!’: Pistorius in tears as he denies intentionally shooting his girlfriend after prosecutor claims he ‘lowered his aim to kill her’
The model and aspiring TV actress had told the sprinter she sometimes was afraid of him during an exchange on messaging service WhatsApp.
At the start of the day, Pistorius described the moment he tried to shoulder-charge his toilet door after shooting his girlfriend in what he claims was a tragic accident.
Focused: Pistorius walks past the toilet door through which he shot at Miss Steenkamp four times, marked A, B, C, D (bottom left), hitting her three times – in the hip, hand and head – and missing with the other.
Gruelling stint on the stand: Oscar Pistorius shows the strain at the end of seven days of questioning in the witness box about his relationship with Reeva Steenkamp and the night he shot her dead
The Paralympian said he was ‘screaming for the Lord to help me’ while holding the cocked 9mm pistol he used to kill Reeva Steenkamp as he tried to knock down the door.
When that failed, he said he put the gun on the bathmat and went to fetch a cricket bat to break it open.
He told his murder trial: ‘I was crying and screaming, “Reeva, Reeva”. I was overcome with terror and despair.’
The double amputee broke down when a picture of Miss Steenkamp slumped on the toilet bowl after she was shot was shown to him.
Describing how he found her, he told the court: ‘She was seated on her right buttock with her left arm on top of the toilet bowl. Her head was on her shoulder.’
Mr Nel began the fifth day of cross-examination in the same vein as he pursued yesterday’s interrogation by pointing to alleged discrepancies in the athlete’s version of events.
The prosecutor noted that last year Pistorius said he opened fire out of fear after hearing a ‘movement’ in the toilet cubicle – Mr Nel said the choice of word suggested the athlete had heard a person behind the closed toilet door.
Time for reflection: The athlete bows his head in the dock after finishing his testimony at his murder trial
Allegations; Mr Nel also alleged that Pistorius rang security soon after the shooting and told them things were ‘ok’ because he didn’t want them to come to the apartment
Since the bail statement, Pistorius has said he fired after hearing a ‘wood abrasion’ sound which he interpreted as a possible intruder opening the toilet door to attack him.
Mr Nel told the runner: ‘There’s no indication that you thought they (perceived intruders) were opening the door in your bail application.
‘You are thinking of a version constantly and not dealing with the question.
‘It’s getting more and more improbable and you’re tailoring more and more as we go on.’
Mr Nel also alleged that Pistorius ringing security soon after the shooting and telling them things were ‘ok’ because he didn’t want them to come to the apartment.
Grim: A police photograph showing the blood-covered toilet cubicle where Miss Steenkamp was displayed in court as prosecutor Gerrie Nel questioned Pistorius’s account of the moments after he shot the model
Macabre: This close-up of the magazine rack in a pool of blood in the toilet cubicle was also shown at the trial
Mr Nel closed his cross-examination by inviting Pistorius to take the blame for shooting Miss Steenkamp, but the runner steered away from a direct response, saying only that he opened fire because he believed his life was under threat.
That remark drew barbed follow-up questions from the prosecutor.
‘We should blame somebody … Should we blame Reeva?’ asked Mr Nel, who has harshly criticised Pistorius as someone who is unwilling to take responsibility.
‘No, my lady,’ Pistorius replied, addressing the judge in line with court custom.
‘She never told you she was going to the toilet,’ Mr Nel said.
Then he asked: ‘Should we blame the government?’