The Oscar Pistorius murder trial took an interesting turn on Wednesday when the six-time Paralympic gold medalist testified that he accidentally fired the shots that killed his girlfriend Reeva Steenkamp. Pistorius’ defense all along has been that he mistook Steenkamp for an intruder, but not that the actual gunfire was a mistake.
Pistorius was being cross-examined by prosecutor Gerrie Nel when he claimed he did not mean to fire his weapon four times.
“I made a mistake,” he said several times.
“You made a mistake?” Nel replied. “You killed a person. You shot and killed Reeva Steenkamp. Why don’t you take responsibility for that?”
Nel then went on to show a close-up photo of Steenkamp’s head wound and told Pistorius to look at it. He spoke about a news segment earlier this year that that showed Pistorius firing shots at a watermelon.
“You know the same happened to Reeva’s head,” Nel said. “It exploded … It had the exact same effect, the bullet that went into her head.”
Pistorius then began sobbing and a recess was taken so he could compose himself. When he returned, he clarified what he meant when he said that the gunshots were accidental.
“I did not purposefully fire the shots through the door,” he said. “The accident was that I discharged my firearm because I believed an intruder was coming to attack me … The discharge was accidental. Before thinking, out of fear, I had fired four shots.”
Pistorius had previously testified that he fired the shots through the bathroom door because he feared there was an intruder inside. He never claimed the actual firing of the weapon was an accident. Neighbors have testified that they heard a woman scream before the shots were fired.