“I think today is a good day to tell you that I love you,” Reeva Steenkamp wrote to Oscar Pistorius in the Valentine’s Day card she intended to give the Paralympic gold medalist on the night he shot her through his bathroom door, allegedly believing her to be an intruder.
They had been dating only three or four months at the time of the shooting, and it was the first mention of the word “love” for either of them. Pistorius has since told the court that he considered Steenkamp to be the “love of his life,” that he was “besotted” with her, and that he had planned to buy a house for them, despite telling a South African newspaper one month before the shooting that he was “not ready for anything serious.” Pistorius claims that Steenkamp’s death was an accident; the state prosecutor Gerrie Nel, who today concluded his cross-examination of the accused, insisted otherwise:
“You armed yourself with the sole purpose of shooting and killing Reeva,” Nel told Pistorius, reiterating the state’s theory that the couple had been arguing and that Steenkamp had fled to the bathroom in terror.
“That is not true,” Pistorius responded.
Before embarking on his final line of questioning, Nel put forth a proposal asking that the court adjourn early this week and resume proceedings from May 5, two days before the start of South Africa’s general elections. Pistorius’s defense attorney, Barry Roux, supported Nel in the request to Judge Thokozile Masipa, who will decide whether or not Pistorius should face life in prison. If the proposal is granted, Roux will most likely wrap up his examination on May 16.
According to testimony during the state’s case, five of Pistorius’s neighbors independently stated that they had heard screaming that night before the sound of four loud bangs, followed by a deafening silence. Nel asked Pistorius why he had failed to scream when he found Reeva dying on his bathroom floor, particularly given that Pistorius had allegedly screamed hysterically as he broke down the door using a cricket bat, according to both Pistorius and the neighbors.
“What would the purpose of screaming be?” Pistorius asked. “I was overwhelmed with sadness.”
Nel further contested the defense’s theory that Steenkamp had gone to the bathroom to relieve herself, saying she would not have been able to void her bladder and pull her shorts up during the timeframe that Pistorius had given to the court. Pistorius disagreed.
In what has become something of a recurring pattern in Pistorius’s exposition, he also implied that the police had tampered with various objects during the crime scene investigation; this time, he claimed that the magazine rack in the bathroom had been moved. Nel dismissed this and referred to a photograph in which the magazine rack stood in a pool of blood, saying that the rack would have made streaks on floor if it had been moved in any way.
Following Nel’s cross-examination, Roux asked Pistorius if he had consciously pulled the trigger when he fired four shots into the bathroom door.
“I didn’t think about pulling the trigger. As soon as I heard the noise, before I could think, I pulled the trigger,” Pistorius answered, as he has answered many times before.
Before being excused from the dock, Roux asked Pistorius to read the Valentine’s Day card that Reeva addressed to him. He read the card aloud to the court:
"Roses are red, violets are blue…I think today is a good day to tell you that I love you.”
Roux then called forensic geologist Roger Dixon, who was tasked with conducting visibility and audibility tests at the Pistorius home on behalf of the defense.
Dixon will continue his testimony tomorrow at 3:30am ET.