Pistorius trial: A look at dramatic 2nd day
PRETORIA, South Africa (AP) — A witness cried and Oscar Pistorius arrived late for the afternoon session on a dramatic second day of the double-amputee Olympian’s murder trial. A look at the happenings Tuesday in and out of the high court in Pretoria:
University lecturer Michelle Burger, the first witness called in the trial, was composed through almost all of her two-day testimony and cross-examination by defense lawyer Barry Roux.
On Tuesday, she broke down in tears at the very end of her testimony when talking about how she can never forget the terrified screams on the night Pistorius killed girlfriend Reeva Steenkamp. Burger lives around 177 meters (580 feet) from Pistorius’ house.
“I’m coping fine. It’s been a year,” she told prosecutor Gerrie Nel, though she also became emotional while remembering the fatal shooting of Steenkamp, using a tissue to wipe away tears.
Pistorius arrived a little late for the afternoon session and was not in his seat when the judge got back from lunch. Judge Thokozile Masipa immediately asked where he was, and defense lawyer Roux apologized and said “sometimes he’s blocked by the media.” Pistorius entered the courtroom soon after. He’s been moving around the courthouse — and arriving and leaving the building — surrounded by police officers and private bodyguards as camera crews and photographers trail his every move.
Wearing a dark suit and a blue tie, Pistorius made notes throughout the day, as he did Monday, and sometimes used a bright orange pen to highlight things on a notepad, appearing composed throughout.
FACE-TO-FACE WITH MUM
Steenkamp’s mother, June, did not attend Tuesday after sitting through the first day of the trial dressed in black, but did give an interview on NBC in the United States.
“I don’t want to live with bitterness,” she told Savannah Guthrie on Today in her first live interview since the trial started. “One must forgive. I’ve lost everything that’s important to me, and still, I can forgive. I can forgive.”
However, the mother of the woman Pistorius shot dead in his home also said in the interview that she had attended the opening day to look Pistorius in the eye — and wasn’t able to.
“I wanted to see Oscar face-to-face,” she said, “and let him know I was there.” But Pistorius “never looked my way, or he didn’t have an opportunity to do that,” she said.
June Steenkamp added it doesn’t matter what happens to the man accused of murder, because her daughter “is never coming back.”
In his cross-examination of Burger, Pistorius lawyer Roux raised his voice at one point trying to hammer home a point. Prosecutor Nel immediately objected, saying it was verging on badgering the witness, and the judge told Roux he had “exhausted” the line of questioning.
The exchange that appeared to rile Roux was when Burger responded to a question about why Pistorius would shout for help before the gunshots, as she said she heard. Burger said she didn’t know, but it might have been a ploy by Pistorius.
“Was it a mockery? I don’t know,” she said.
JUDGE ORDERS INVESTIGATION
About 30 minutes into the day’s proceedings, the trial was interrupted when prosecutor Nel jumped up and said he’d been informed that a South African television channel was broadcasting an image of witness Burger during her testimony, against media restrictions. A judge ruled last week that no private witnesses who testify in the trial can be shown, though experts and police officers can.
The TV channel was allegedly using a picture of Burger from her work website, which the judge ruled also wasn’t allowed.
Judge Masipa warned reporters and ordered an investigation.
Gerald Imray is on Twitter at www.twitter.com/GeraldImrayAP