Pretoria: Inside a gaudy Valentine’s Day card, Reeva Steenkamp’s neat handwriting inscribed the words she been planning to reveal to Oscar Pistorius for weeks.
“I think today is a good day to tell you that I love you.”
Pistorius holds his ears during evidence
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Pistorius holds his ears during evidence
The prosecutor in the murder trial of Oscar Pistorius ends his five-day cross-examination of the South African double amputee track athlete.
But within hours of telling the Olympic runner he was not to open the card or an accompanying gift until the following day, the man she had just professed to love shot her dead.
Pistorius had, the prosecutor accused on Day 23 of his murder trial, armed himself “with the sole purpose” of shooting his girlfriend dead in an argument, alleging he had been so overcome by emotion because he had “intended to kill her”.
State prosecutor Gerrie Nel finished his cross-examination of Pistorius in almost a whisper five days after it began so explosively.
Despite having begun his questioning by goading the Olympian to look at a graphic photograph of Ms Steenkamp’s bloody skull after he had shot her, the prosecutor’s final questions were posed in his softest voice.
Gerrie Nel: “You shot four shots through that door, knowing she was talking to you."
Pistorius: “That is incorrect my lady.”
“You armed yourself with the sole purpose of shooting and killing her.
“That is not true, my lady.”
“And after that you were overcome by what you had done?”
“That is true, my lady.”
“Because you had intended to kill her.”
“That is not true my lady.”
In re-examination the counsel for Pistorius, Barry Roux, asked only a handful of questions, despite the extraordinarily detailed and probing questioning from Mr Nel.
He tendered as an exhibit the Valentine’s Day card Ms Steenkamp had left for her boyfriend the night before he shot and killed her.
Voice trembling, Pistorius was asked to read the words on the envelope.
He told the court the envelope had “Ozzy” written on the front.
The card itself had “roses are red, violets are blue” on the front, and inside Ms Steenkamp had written: “I think today is a good day to tell you that I love you.”
“She signed her name and put some kisses,” Pistorius said tearfully.
The evidence was the first time the 29-year-old model and law graduate had told Pistorius she loved him.
The court has previously heard that she had left the card with a present on the table in Pistorius’ home, telling him the night before that she was not to open either until the following day.
He told the court he did not open them until August that year.
One of Judge Thokozile Masipa’s assessors, assisting her with findings of fact, asked two questions: whether Ms Steenkamp could have armed or disarmed the alarm system at his house, and whether the light in the toilet had been working at the time.
Pistorius said he was unsure if Ms Steenkamp had known how to operate it but could have, if she had the remote, and that no, the toilet light was not working.
Earlier Mr Nel had begun his fifth day of cross-examination by asking about the bathroom window Pistorius had thought the perceived intruder had entered through.
He said on Pistorius’ version Ms Steenkamp must have opened the window before she went to the toilet cubicle. The athlete agreed.
Mr Nel summarised that this would have meant she needed time, on Pistorius’ version, to “void her bladder”, before shutting the toilet door as he advanced with the gun.
He said there was simply not enough time for all of that to have happened – but Pistorius did not agree.
The defence case continued on Tuesday afternoon, Pistorius’ barrister Barry Roux calling Roger Dixon, former forensic geologist with South African Police Service.
Through him, the defence was able to play their “cricket bat tests”, the sound of which they claim is almost identical to gunshots.
The trial, which is currently in its sixth sitting week, is expected to take a two-week adjournment from Thursday afternoon, to include Easter, some South African public holidays and give prosecutors time to complete their other case work.
Judge Masipa is likely to announce on Wednesday morning that the trial will resume on May 5.