Oscar Pistorius prosecutors 'twisted facts', defence says

PRETORIA - Prosecutors have twisted the facts to discredit South African athlete Oscar Pistorius in his murder trial, his lawyer has said in closing remarks.

Barry Roux said the double amputee should have faced a lesser charge of culpable homicide over the shooting of his girlfriend Reeva Steenkamp.

Mr Pistorius denies prosecution claims that he deliberately shot Ms Steenkamp.

But Mr Roux conceded that he should be found guilty for negligence for discharging a firearm in a restaurant.

The Olympic athlete pleaded not guilty to all the charges he faces, including two counts of shooting a firearm in public and the illegal possession of ammunition.

In the early hours of Valentine's Day last year, he says he mistook his girlfriend - a model and law graduate - for an intruder when he shot her through a toilet door in his home in South Africa's capital, Pretoria.

Once concluding arguments are finished, Judge Thokozile Matilda Masipa is expected to adjourn the trial to consider her ruling. Analysts say this process could take between a week and a month as she has 4,000 pages of evidence to consider.

'Slow burn'

The prosecution is trying to characterise Mr Pistorius as a "hothead" who intentionally killed Ms Steenkamp after an argument.

His defence team want to portray him as having a heightened response to perceived danger due to his disability and background.

In court on Friday, Mr Roux said growing up with a disability conditioned Mr Pistorius always to confront danger because he could not flee.

He described it as a "slow burn" of insecurities and compared it to an abused woman shooting her abuser.

Mr Roux also dealt with phone data evidence on the night of the shooting to show that the timeline of events fits the defence's argument that Mr Pistorius fired the shots at the toilet door first on his stumps.

Realising he had shot Ms Steenkamp by mistake, the defence says Mr Pistorius put on his prosthetics and used a cricket bat to knock down the door at 03.17 local time - five minutes after he says shots were fired.

The prosecution alleges that the noises heard at 03.17 were the shots being fired.

Mr Roux said analysis of the evidence showed there was anxious high-pitched screaming followed by shouts of "help, help, help" between the two sounds, which near neighbours say were made by a man, not a woman as other witnesses testified.

Analysis: Andrew Harding, BBC News, Pretoria

The state has produced plenty of damaging claims about Oscar Pistorius's version of events and about his character - not least his refusal to accept blame for the other two gunshot incidents.

But it has consistently avoided weaving them into a minute-by-minute timeline. Instead, Thursday seemed mostly to be a rehash of things Mr Nel has been saying for some time in court.

I suspect Judge Masipa will find Mr Roux's timeline quite persuasive.


Earlier, the defence said that there had been "no respect for the crime scene", saying the state's case was discredited as Mr Pistorius' house was tampered with inadvertently, with a fan and duvet being moved.

State prosecutor Gerrie Nel, in his closing statement on Thursday, argued the athlete "cannot escape" a murder conviction, accusing him of being a "deceitful witness" who told the court a "snowball of lies".

Known as the "bull terrier", prosecutor Mr Nel said the athlete's lawyers had presented two lines of defence that "can never be reconciled".

Mr Pistorius said he had fired both involuntarily and also out of fear, Mr Nel argued, insisting the court had to choose only one of his defences.

Last month, a psychiatric report said Mr Pistorius had post-traumatic stress disorder but no mental illness that could prevent him being held criminally responsible for his actions.

If found guilty of murder, the 27-year-old, who went on trial on 3 March, could face life imprisonment.

If he is acquitted of that charge, the court will consider an alternative charge of culpable homicide, for which he could - if convicted - receive about 15 years in prison.

For the first time since the trial began in March, the fathers of Oscar Pistorius and Reeva Steenkamp have appeared in court for the closing arguments.

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