The chief prosecutor in Oscar Pistorius' murder trial said today in closing arguments that the athlete repeatedly lied during testimony in a crude attempt to defend himself against a murder charge for killing girlfriend Reeva Steenkamp.
Prosecutor Gerrie Nel cited flaws in the defense, saying the Olympian's legal team floated more than one theory about what happened on the night that Pistorius shot Steenkamp through a closed toilet door in his home.
Defense lawyers had argued that Pistorius fired in self-defense, fearing an intruder, Nel said, but they also raised the possibility that he was not criminally responsible and accidentally shot because he was "startled."
"It's two defenses that you can never reconcile," Nel said as Pistorius sat behind him in the dock, occasionally flicking through documents. The once-celebrated double-amputee athlete appeared calm, in contrast to some past occasions during which he retched and wailed in apparent distress.
The prosecution has argued that Pistorius intentionally shot Steenkamp before dawn on Feb. 14, 2013 after a quarrel, and argued he knew she was in the bathroom.
Nel ended his closing argument by saying Pistorius was guilty of premeditated murder because he then "made up his mind" to find his gun, walk through to the bathroom and shoot. "That, my lady, is pre-planning," Nel said to the judge.
Yet Nel said Pistorius should still be convicted of murder even if the court accepts he did not know it was Steenkamp in the toilet cubicle, arguing the athlete intentionally shot at and killed a person with no reason to believe his life was under threat.
Barry Roux, the chief defense lawyer, listened and checked files as Nel spoke for hours. Nel was occasionally questioned by Judge Thokozile Masipa and urged to speed up elaborations on written arguments of more than 100 pages that were submitted to the court last week.
Roux began his final arguments before Masipa postponed proceedings until tomorrow for the defense to finish. Masipa will then adjourn the trial to deliberate with two legal assistants on a verdict, with Pistorius facing 25 years to life in prison if convicted on the main charge of premeditated murder.