Telling the truth won’t get Oscar Pistorius off the hook – state

2014-08-07 17:38

Even if Judge Thokozila Masipa believes Oscar Pistorius is telling the truth, he cannot escape being convicted of murder, the state has argued.

“His intention when he fired those shots was to kill a human being,” concluded state prosecutor Gerrie Nel today, during closing arguments in the athlete’s murder trial in the North Gauteng High Court today.

Nel also argued that not only was the “accused a deceitful witness, but he in fact tailored his evidence and used well-calculated and rehearsed emotional outbursts to deflect attention and to avoid having to answer questions”.

But Nel said even if Masipa believed Pistorius’ explanation – that he thought there was an intruder in the toilet – he was still guilty of having the direct intention of murdering a person.

“Upon reaching the bathroom and then realising that the intruder was in the toilet, he continued to fire four shots into the toilet cubicle.”

If the court didn’t buy this, argued Nel, Pistorius would still be guilty of murdering a person with dolus eventualis, a type of indirect intention that is recognised by law.

“He fired four shots into a small toilet cubicle and must have foreseen that he will hit and kill the person inside the toilet with lethal 9mm Black Talon ammunition”.

Much of Nel’s closing argument today focused on what a poor witness Pistorius had been on the stand, citing a “baker’s dozen” of “major discrepancies, contradictions and, in our view, deceitfulness occasioned during the accused’s evidence”.

Most of these related to what Nel termed the “domino effect” of Pistorius tailoring his evidence to match the evidence on the crime scene.

Nel also focused on arguing that Pistorius’ neighbours, who testified that they had heard a woman screaming before the gunshots, had been credible witnesses who remained “steadfast during their evidence”.

But late today, Pistorius’ advocate, Barry Roux, jumped straight onto what is considered by many commentators to be a key weakness in the state’s case.

Roux was referring to testimony by both the Stipps, who had testified to hearing two sets of bangs, both of which they thought were gunshots.

Nel has made it clear from early on that the second set of shots (at about 3.17am) were the ones the state believed had killed Reeva Steenkamp.

The fact that the Stipps as well as three other neighbours said they heard a woman screaming before these shots meant

Pistorius had to have known it was Steenkamp in the bathroom.

Roux this afternoon said: “We were waiting for the state to tell the court what were those first shots and you will not find the answer in the heads of argument or in (Nel’s) argument. One thing you cannot do in a criminal trial is you cannot ignore a serious objective fact.”

Roux has argued that the state withheld key information, which are “material objective facts” that exonerated Pistorius.

Roux will continue with his closing arguments tomorrow.

The state’s case in the Oscar Pistorius murder trial.

Oscar Pistorius trial: State’s heads of argument

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