PRETORIA, South Africa - Reeva Steenkamp, the 29-year-old girlfriend of South African Olympic athlete Oscar Pistorius, had a sports bag packed with her clothes, ready to leave his house, the night he fatally shot her, prosecutor Gerrie Nel told Pretoria's high court Monday.
The only items not yet packed were a pair of jeans and a pair of flip-flops. Pistorius, on trial for murder, denied there had been a quarrel and she was about to leave.
Pistorius, who contends he shot at the enclosed toilet in which Steenkamp had locked herself because he believed an intruder was there, told the court he screamed at the imagined stranger to get out of his house.
As he recounted the words, Pistorius broke down, weeping in a high-pitched tone. Nel suggested that Pistorius screamed at Steenkamp to get out of his house, a claim the athlete denied.
Under days of cross-examination, Pistorius has frequently made mistakes, contradicted himself and expressed uncertainty. At times, his memory for detail was razor sharp, but when explaining his decision to fire four shots through the toilet door, killing Steenkamp, Pistorius has been vague, insisting simply that he didn't have time to think, didn't intend to kill anybody and that the incident was an "accident."
But his insistence that he formed no intent to shoot may be digging him into a bigger hole, according to legal experts. They say in doing so, he appears to have abandoned his defense that he shot in self-defense. Instead he seems to be claiming that the action of shooting was involuntary and accidental.
For the self-defense argument to apply under South African law, Pistorius would have intended to shoot the intruder, and his task in court would have been to show his fear for his life was reasonable.
"Is it your defense that you fired at the perceived attacker?" Nel asked and Pistorius said no. He insisted it would have been an accident, even if he had shot an intruder.