Defence lawyer Barry Roux speaks during closing arguments in the murder trial of Paralympian Oscar Pistorius in Pretoria.
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PRETORIA – Oscar Pistorius may have been an apprehensive and argumentative witness in his murder trial, but this should be put down to the ill treatment he received at the hands of the state.
Defence Advocate Barry Roux, presenting his closing arguments to Judge Thokozile Masipa in the North Gauteng High Court, said the state had presented false evidence during Pistorius’s bail application – accusing him of having put on his legs, chasing girlfriend Reeva Steenkamp into the toilet and shooting her in a case of premeditated murder.
“Anyone would be anxious in a situation like that,” Roux said, explaining how facts had shown that Pistorius had carried out the shooting on his stumps.
In his final arguments prosecutor Gerrie Nel presented what he described “a mosaic of gruesome events,” detailing a litany of incongruencies and improbabilities in Pistorius’s version of events when he shot dead his girlfriend Reeva Steenkamp during the early hours of Valentine’s Day last year.
Pistorius also stands accused of having negligently fired his gun through the sunroof of a car, discharging his friend Darren Fresco’s gun in Tasha’s restaurant in Melrose Arch, and of keeping unlicensed ammunition in his safe.
Roux asked for limited submissions on the additional three charges, to which Pistorius has also pleaded not guilty.
“What I ask is that you look at Darren Fresco in context of count 2 and 3. He was out to incriminate the accused because he wanted a 204 indemnity, because he was an accomplice,” Roux said.
He said Fresco, who testified on both counts relating to the negligent handling of a firearm, had been a poor witness with an agenda.
Pistorius’s ex-girlfriend Samantha Tayor, who testified that Pistorius had shot through the sunroof, had been unclear in her evidence and had accused Pistorius of cheating on her with Steenkamp.
With regard to the Tasha’s shooting, Roux argued that the gun was “not mechanically sound” and – although firearms expert Captain Chris Mangena had testified that it could not possibly fire unless the trigger was pulled – the discharge had been accidental.
Pistorius testified that although the gun was in his hand when it had fired, he had not pulled the trigger. Nel said the incident was indicative of Pistorius’s refusal to take responsibility for his actions, while Roux said he was not avoiding blame.
Judge Masipa asked Roux what he thought the court should rule, with regard to the incident, prompting Roux to say that Pistorius had been wrong to ask for Fresco’s firearm and had been wrong to take hold of it.
On the fourth charge, Roux said Pistorius should not be held accountable as he had merely been holding ammunition in safekeeping for his father.
Roux then painstakingly laid out a timeline of events on the night Steenkamp was shot dead, piecing together phone calls and witness reports in an effort to show that nobody had heard the screams of a woman and that the cries that were heard were the high-pitched wails of Pistorius after the shooting.
The acoustic evidence presented by the defence supported this, he said.
Nel had claimed that the undigested food found in Steenkamp’s stomach after her death showed that she had eaten only a few hours before she was shot, and that Pistorius’s claims that they had eaten before 8pm and then gone to sleep at about 10pm was a fabrication.
Roux however, reminded the court that pathologist Professor Gert Saayman had testified that gastric emptying was an inexact science and, although he had said Steenkamp had eaten sometime after 11pm, it was possible that this could be incorrect.
Defence expert witness Professor Christina Lundgren had also testified that various factors that had not been tested could have impacted on Steenkamp’s digestion.
Court adjourned for lunch.