Skip to content

Oscar Pistorius emotionally breaks down as prosecution alleges inconsistencies

Apr 14, 2014, 10:26 AM EDT

Oscar Pistorius‘ murder trial was twice stopped when the athlete broke down under a prosecutor’s questioning on Monday.

Pistorius, on trial after fatally shooting girlfriend Reeva Steenkamp on Valentine’s Day 2013, cried when recounting how he screamed an expletive at what he thought was an intruder inside his bathroom before shooting through a locked door. Judge Thokozile Masipa called an adjournment.

About 90 minutes later, Pistorius again caused a break when he began bawling during the following exchange with lead prosecutor Gerrie Nel.

“You fired at Reeva,” Nel said, before a rare Pistorius interruption on their fourth day of cross-examination.

“That’s not true,” Pistorius said insistently.

“Why are you getting emotional now?” Nel asked.

“I did not fire at Reeva,” Pistorius wailed.

Nel asked for an adjournment, citing Pistorius’ emotional state. A psychologist consoled Pistorius during the break, according to reports from the Pretoria courtroom.

Pistorius, the first double amputee to run in the Olympics in 2012, faces 25 years to life in prison if convicted of premeditated murder. If not found guilty of premeditated murder, he could be convicted of culpable homicide, South Africa’s version of manslaughter for negligent killing.

The prosecutor Nel spent most of Monday continuing his assertion that Pistorius was lying and changing his defense from putative self defense to involuntary action (accidental shooting). Nel said Pistorius shot Steenkamp after an argument rather than thinking she was an intruder.

“The theme for the day is tailoring your evidence,” Nel said.

Pistorius again went through his actions shortly before, during and after shooting Steenkamp. He said he fired his pistol through the door after hearing a noise, believing the person inside was trying to open the door, but he didn’t see the door or door handle move.

“I heard the noise, and I didn’t have time to interpret, and I fired my firearm out of fear,” said Pistorius, who reportedly looks away from Nel, often to the judge, when answering.

Pistorius said he didn’t know why he stopped firing after four shots. He wasn’t aiming his gun because he didn’t intend to fire it. Nel said it must have been lucky, then, that his gun was pointed in the direction of the perceived intruder.

“Why would that be lucky, she lost her life,” Pistorius said.

Pistorius said that even if it turned out to be an intruder behind the door, he still would have considered the shooting an accident.

Late in the day, Judge Masipa interrupted Nel, who had been asking Pistorius about why Steenkamp was standing behind the door when he shot. Pistorius said he didn’t know why. Masipa thought Nel was unnecessarily repeating the question to which Pistorius did not have an answer.

“It’s not true,” Nel said. “He knows. He’s hiding it.

“He knows that he shot her while she was talking. … He must tell us because there’s no other version for it.”

Here’s NBC News’ full coverage of the trial.

The trial is scheduled to resume at 3:30 a.m. ET on Tuesday with more cross-examining from Nel.

Video: Mo Farah beaten in London Marathon

Latest Posts
  1. Indian boxer refuses bronze medal at Asian Games

    Oct 1, 2014, 5:24 PM EDT

    Sarita Devi Getty Images

    Video of bizarre scene during medal ceremony.

  2. Oslo withdraws 2022 Olympic bid after ‘no’ vote

    Oct 1, 2014, 4:54 PM EDT

    Oslo 2022 Getty Images

    Almaty, Kazakhstan and Beijing are the two remaining finalists.

  3. Dennis Kimetto gets hero’s welcome in Kenya (photos)

    Oct 1, 2014, 4:15 PM EDT

    Dennis Kimetto Getty Images

    Marathon world record smasher reportedly already has 2015 plans.

  4. North Korea vs. South Korea in Asian Games men’s soccer final

    Oct 1, 2014, 4:00 PM EDT

    North Korea men's soccer Getty Images

    Game will be played in South Korea with more than a gold medal at stake.

  5. Kyla Ross suffered hip injury before World Championships

    Oct 1, 2014, 11:38 AM EDT

    Kyla Ross Getty Images

    Olympic team champion trained with her hip and thigh taped Wednesday.

  6. Lindsey Vonn’s return to snow ‘went well,’ U.S. coach says

    Oct 1, 2014, 11:17 AM EDT

    Lindsey Vonn Getty Images

    Vonn strapped on skis in Austria, preparing for her World Cup return later this fall.

  7. Justin Gatlin eyes more 200s after undefeated season

    Oct 1, 2014, 10:49 AM EDT

    Justin Gatlin Getty Images

    Sprinter discusses Usain Bolt, reflects on 2014 and looks ahead to 2015.

  8. Michael Phelps arrested on DUI charges

    Sep 30, 2014, 4:18 PM EDT

    Michael Phelps Getty Images

    The 22-time Olympic medalist was pulled over in Maryland overnight.

  9. U.S. women’s basketball team beats Angola by 75 points

    Sep 30, 2014, 4:07 PM EDT

    Tina Charles Getty Images

    U.S.’ previous biggest blowout was 70 points over Senegal.

  10. Lauryn Williams ‘playing with the idea’ of bobsled this season

    Sep 30, 2014, 1:25 PM EDT

    Lauryn Williams Getty Images

    Summer and Winter Olympian previously said she was all but retired.

  11. Lindsey Vonn set for first skiing in 10 months, named 2016 Youth Olympics ambassador

    Sep 30, 2014, 11:35 AM EDT

    Lindsey Vonn Getty Images

    Vancouver downhill champion expected to ski in Austria on Wednesday.

  12. Patrick Chan eyes return to competition in 2015-16

    Sep 30, 2014, 11:02 AM EDT

    Patrick Chan Getty Images

    Canadian joins long list of skaters sitting out this season.

  13. Katinka Hosszu wins record 10 golds in 2 days at FINA World Cup

    Sep 30, 2014, 10:45 AM EDT

    Katinka Hosszu Getty Images

    Hungarian matched her Monday output on Tuesday but lacked top competition.

  14. Mikaela Shiffrin gets her own street in Vail

    Sep 30, 2014, 10:23 AM EDT

    Mikaela Shiffrin

    Olympic slalom champion also gave an update on her 2014-15 plans.

  15. Talk of a sub-two-hour marathon

    Sep 29, 2014, 1:16 PM EDT

    Dennis Kimetto Getty Images

    Dennis Kimetto’s record-smashing win in Berlin brings the barrier into closer view.

  16. ISU wants synchronized figure skating in Winter Olympics

    Sep 29, 2014, 10:51 AM EDT

    Synchronized Skating Getty Images

    ISU asks for synchronized skating and a new speed skating event for 2018.

  17. Yevgeny Plushenko wants to prove he ‘is not a coward’

    Sep 29, 2014, 10:27 AM EDT

    Yevgeny Plushenko Getty Images

    Plushenko received criticism for withdrawing at Sochi Olympics.