Prosecutors made a blistering start to their cross-examination of Oscar Pistorius Wednesday, immediately boxing the double-amputee Olympian into a corner in what his defense team described as an "ambush."
In a feisty opening exchange, prosecutor Gerrie Nel went straight to the heart of the state’s case, saying to Pistorius: “You killed Reeva Steenkamp ... Say it.”
“I made a terrible mistake,” the athlete said.
"You killed a person," Nel added.
"I made a mistake," Pistorius replied.
"Will you take responsibility for it? Say it. Say, 'Yes, I killed ... I shot and killed Reeva Steenkamp,'" Nel said.
"I did, my lady," the sprinter responded.
Earlier, Pistorius testified how he felt Steenkamp's blood "running down on me" after he discovered her bullet-ridden body in his bathroom. The sprinter insists he thought the 29-year-old model and law graduate was a hiding intruder.
"I felt helpless. I had my fingers in her mouth to help her breathe," he told the High Court in Pretoria, South Africa.
“Did you at any time intend to kill to Reeva?” lead defense lawyer Barry Roux asked.
“I did not intend to kill Reeva, or anyone else for that matter,” the athlete replied before the cross-examination got under way.
Asked by Nel about his Christian faith, Pistorius responded: “I don’t always think the things I do are right. I’ll try not to lie. I’m human. I’m here to tell the truth.”
Nel then took the defense team by surprise by asking the athlete about a video showing him shooting at a watermelon at a gun range, firing a shot described in court as “a zombie-stopper.”
Nel appeared to score an early victory by forcing the athlete to say he would like to see the video. That prompted Roux to complain that the prosecution was staging an “ambush” by introducing evidence that the defense had not seen.
However, Nel told the judge that Pistorius had asked to see the video and that it should therefore be shown. The judge later agreed.
Pistorius, 27, is accused of premeditated murder after fatally shooting Steenkamp early on Valentine's Day last year. The sprinter maintains it was a case of mistaken identity.
On Tuesday, he read out text messages in court sent by his slain girlfriend, including one in which she said she was "scared" of the Olympian, and admitted he “wasn’t kind to her like I should have been.”
The trial continues.