Winnipeg Free Press - PRINT EDITION

'Tired' Pistorius makes mistakes on the stand

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PRETORIA, South Africa -- Oscar Pistorius complained he was "tired" Friday in his murder trial in South Africa, prompting Judge Thokozile Masipa to ask if that was "the reason you're making all these mistakes" in testimony.

The Olympic athlete, charged with murder in the death of girlfriend Reeva Steenkamp, several times contradicted himself, recanted or apologized for "mistakes" in his statement. He said he was tired, adding this was not going to change.

But Masipa cautioned Pistorius if he was making mistakes because he was tired, he must say so.

"It's important that you should be all here when you are in that witness box," she told him. "If you are tired and that's the reason you're making all these mistakes you must say so. It doesn't help to say it won't change."

Pistorius responded he was not making mistakes because he was tired.

State prosecutor Gerrie Nel several times called Pistorius a liar, saying that was the reason he kept making mistakes and contradicting himself. The judge warned Nel not to call Pistorius a liar while he was in the witness box.

Pistorius has pleaded not guilty to murder, contending he thought Steenkamp was an intruder when he fired four shots through the door into an enclosed toilet off the bathroom of his home.

Pistorius contended he formed no intent to kill an intruder because he "didn't have time to think."

"I was never ready to shoot," the double-amputee athlete told the court Friday, but he admitted he had released the safety on his gun "so that if I needed to use my firearm, I could."

"You were ready to shoot," countered Nel.

"That's correct," my lady, conceded Pistorius, addressing the judge.

Nel asked why Pistorius didn't simply take Steenkamp, who he has said he believed was still in his bedroom, and retreat downstairs to safety.

Pistorius answered it was his instinct to go toward danger because "that's who I am."

He admitted he didn't check how Steenkamp was.

"So you wanted to go and confront these robbers, and you did, by firing," Nel said.

"That's correct, my lady," Pistorius replied.

At one point Pistorius said when he was outside the bathroom he heard the sound of the toilet door either closing or being kicked, making him certain an intruder or intruders were in the house.

Minutes later, he stated, "I never ever said that somebody kicked the door."

When Nel pointed out the contradiction, Pistorius retracted the statement: "I made a mistake, my lady. I apologize and I don't know why I said that," he said, adding, "I'd forgotten about that point."

Nel said the mistakes were coming because he had to keep up with an untruth.

"I put it to you that your mistakes are as convincing as your evidence in the way you give it and that's a problem," Nel said. Pistorius said he didn't want to comment on that contention.

 

-- Los Angeles Times

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition April 12, 2014 A30

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