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Prosecution wraps closing argument at Oscar Pistorius trial

Aug 7, 2014, 11:17 AM EDT

Oscar Pistorius AP

In his closing argument, the lead prosecutor in Oscar Pistorius‘ murder trial used a track and field analogy Thursday, saying Pistorius “dropped the baton” and should be convicted of premeditated murder.

In written remarks, prosecutors called Pistorius “one of the worst witnesses we have ever encountered” for his testimony in his own defense earlier in the trial.

Lead prosecutor Gerrie Nel repeated his view that the athlete tailored his version of events and used multiple defenses for shooting and killing girlfriend Reeva Steenkamp.

Pistorius, the first double amputee to run in the Olympics in 2012, shot four times through a locked door in his Pretoria home bathroom on the early morning of Valentine’s Day 2013, hitting Steenkamp inside.

Pistorius has said he thought Steenkamp was an intruder. Nel said Pistorius was lying, summarizing the prosecution’s case from a five-month trial initially scheduled for a three-week window.

“We have, if there’s no perceived intruder, the deceased, 3 o’clock in the morning, locking herself into her toilet,” Nel said. “We have the deceased, 3 o c’lock in the morning, taking her cell phone with her to the toilet. We have the deceased, 3 o’clock in the morning, standing upright, fully clothed, and shot four times. There’s no intruder. There’s no noises. That is our argument.”

Pistorius faces 25 years to life in prison if convicted of premeditated murder. If found not guilty of premeditated murder, he could be convicted of lesser charges, such as culpable homicide, South Africa’s version of manslaughter for negligent killing.

“He made up his mind in the bedroom when he armed himself,” Nel said. “That is preplanned. … Our argument is that the accused should be convicted on all accounts.”

The murder trial, initially slated for March 3-20, concluded its 40th day scattered among several breaks the last five months. Lead defense attorney Barry Roux began his closing argument, pointing out “material mistakes” made by the prosecution.

Roux is expected to conclude his closing argument Friday, after which judge Thokozile Masipa and her assessors will deliberate and come up with a verdict. The final ruling is expected to be preceded by a lengthy break, reportedly from one week to over a month.

Pistorius’ father, reportedly estranged from the runner, sat in the courtroom for the first time during the trial Thursday.

Pistorius’ older brother, Carl, spent Thursday intensive care unit and on a ventilator in a South African hospital after a car crash last week, the Pistorius family said in a statement.

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

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  1. mogogo1 - Aug 7, 2014 at 1:16 PM

    Nobody fires blindly through his bathroom door in the middle of the night without checking where his bedmate is at. There was never going to be a believable explanation for that and the defense didn’t even really try to advance one. Even in Pistorius’ version, he says he started shooting at basically the same moment he called out to her to phone the cops. Nothing in his story made any sense.

  2. aed939aed939 - Aug 7, 2014 at 2:20 PM

    Tell me who would want to intentionally kill Reeva, and even if they did, would not hire a hitman, where they are so cheap and plentiful in Pretoria. A premeditated murder would also premeditate how to defend yourself. Therefore the most it could possibly logically be is a murder in a fit of rage (2nd degree). But knowing the character and habits of Pistorius, it is most likely an accident–he is not prone to rage, but he is prone to acidents and known for wreckless use of firearms. He’s gonna get culpable homicide (manslaughter).

    • mogogo1 - Aug 7, 2014 at 5:05 PM

      Only problem is he pleaded not guilty to both the restaurant and car shooting incidents. That truly would have been his smartest play to beat the murder–play up his paranoia and irresponsibility with guns. But it looks like he couldn’t stand for his image to take a hit like that so he denied absolutely everything.

      And if he’s not prone to rage, how exactly do you think she ended up fully clothed with two phones on her if she was just going potty in the night when she was “accidentally” shot? Just another fact that there was never going to be a good explanation for.

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