OSCAR PISTORIUS came under intense pressure yesterday at his murder trial in South Africa from the chief prosecutor, who dismissed his account of how he killed girlfriend Reeva Steenkamp as a flimsy web of lies and accused the Olympian of staging emotional outbursts to mask difficulty in answering a barrage of probing questions.
His voice quavering at times, Pistorius struggled to explain alleged inconsistencies in his testimony and broke down sobbing on two occasions, forcing Judge Thokozile Masipa to temporarily halt proceedings.
Prosecutor Gerrie Nel was sometimes quick to acknowledge Pistorius' distress - possibly to allow him time to recover and avoid any defense argument that he is not getting a fair trial - but also said the athlete was frantically trying to shore up a fabricated story.
"You're getting frustrated because your version is improbable," Nel said, standing at a lectern and gesturing with his spectacles in his right hand. "You're not using your emotional state as an escape, are you?"
Pistorius said he wasn't in a "rational frame of mind" at the time of the shooting in his home in the early hours of Feb. 14, 2013, suggesting he was therefore unable to remember some things about that night or explain some of his actions, such as rushing around with a cocked gun after he killed Steenkamp.
The cross-examination, which resumes for a fifth day today, is at a pivotal stage in a trial watched on television around the world by viewers who had admired the double-amputee runner for his track achievements.
Pistorius faces 25 years to life in prison if convicted of premeditated murder, and Nel's challenge is to prove the state's case beyond a reasonable doubt.
Nel alleges that Pistorius killed his lover after an argument.
* The NCAA contends that unionization by college athletes could lead to fewer scholarships and championship events as well as a drop in academic support and career counseling. In a set of talking points issued to school leaders late last week, college sports' largest governing body urged school leaders to have a unified voice on the topic that could dramatically alter college athletics, including loss of funding for smaller sports.
* Clemson quarterback Chad Kelly has been dismissed from the team 2 days after he was benched for the second half of the spring game for disagreeing with coaches over whether to go for it on fourth down.
* Wide receiver DeSean Jackson reported for the Washington Redskins' voluntary offseason workout program after skipping the first week to take a vacation.
* Former Eagles safety Kurt Coleman has agreed to a contract with the Minnesota Vikings, his agent said.
* San Francisco cornerback Chris Culliver pleaded not guilty to misdemeanor hit-and-run charges and felony possession of brass knuckles. Culliver was arrested on March 28 after San Jose police say he struck a bicyclist, then rammed a witness' vehicle that was blocking him from leaving until officers arrived.
* Authorities in Phoenix said former pro wrestler The Ultimate Warrior, 54, died on April 8 of cardiovascular disease.
* Penn State star Maggie Lucas, from Narberth, was selected by the Phoenix Mercury with the 21st overall pick in the WNBA draft.
* La Salle freshman Chris Sanders was named Atlantic 10 men's track & field rookie of the week . . . La Salle goalie Gabby Antonelli was named A-10 women's lacrosse defender of the week and Toni Massetti conference rookie of the week.