Oscar Pistorius told his murder trial Monday that he had no explanation for there still being food in slain girlfriend Reeva Steenkamp's stomach despite his testimony that they ate eight hours before the fatal shooting.
The double-amputee Olympian made the comments during another day of intense cross-examination by prosecutor Gerrie Nel, who has been trying to pick holes in Pistorius' defense since last week. Pistorius, 27, is accused of premeditated murder but insists that he killed the model and law graduate after mistaking her for an intruder.
The sprinter said he and Steenkamp ate after 7 p.m. on Feb. 13 last year. Early the following morning, Pistorius fired four hollow-point bullets through a bathroom door at his luxury home. Steenkamp died almost immediately.
Nel said expert evidence showed Steenkamp's stomach should have been empty by the time she was killed.
"I put it to you that she must have eaten two hours before her death," Nel said. He asked Pistorius if he had any explanation for this.
"I don't have an explanation for it so I can't comment on it," he said.
Nel said this was "devastating for your version." He added: "I'm going to press you for an explanation...[experts] would expect the stomach content to be clear six hours after somebody has eaten and we are talking eight. I want to know from you, why?
"I'm putting it to you that she must have eaten two hours before her death."
Nel also questioned the athlete on the placement of Steenkamp's clothes in the bedroom. The prosecutor alleged that her jeans and flip-flops were out of place because the pair had an argument and she wanted to leave.
"The denims are inside out," Pistorius answered. "So it would make sense that is when she took them off."
Nel also attempted to get the athlete to trip up over details previously given to the court and to police following his arrest.
"Remember, the theme for the day is [that you have been] tailoring your evidence," Nel told Pistorius, repeating a phrase the prosecutor used last week.
Pistorius told the court that he had told Steenkamp to "get down and call the police" after he thought he heard an intruder. He said he used a "lowered tone" but did not whisper.
Nel returned to Pistorius' evidence in chief, a statement given to officers in a cell following his arrest, in which he said that he did in fact whisper.
"I must have made a mistake by saying 'whispered,' I meant in a low tone," he said. Explaining to Nel why there may have been an error in his evidence in chief, he told Nel: "I was on medication, I was traumatized. There was no understanding that it was meant to be an exhaustive statement."
The trial continues.
- Alexander Smith
First published April 14 2014, 1:30 AM