The Clinton Herald, Clinton, Iowa

World News

April 9, 2014

Pistorius refuses to look at photo of dead lover

PRETORIA, South Afa — Oscar Pistorius refused to look at a photo of his dead girlfriend's bloody head wounds while testifying at his murder trial Wednesday as the prosecutor urged the star athlete to "take responsibility" for killing her.

"It's time that you look at it," chief prosecutor Gerrie Nel said, setting the stage for a rigorous first day of cross-examination of Pistorius, the double-amputee Olympian charged with premeditated murder for shooting Reeva Steenkamp three times through a toilet door at his home.

"I remember," Pistorius said of Steenkamp's bloodied head, becoming distraught and then crying as he turned away from the gruesome image of the injuries he inflicted that were displayed next to him in a packed courtroom in South Africa's capital.

Nel said Steenkamp's head "exploded" when it was struck by one of four hollow-point bullets that Pistorius fired through the door on Feb. 14, 2013 with his 9 mm pistol. The showing of the photograph on TV screens in the courtroom caused gasps among spectators, who included Steenkamp's mother, June. The police photo showed a side view of the dead model and reality TV star's head, with a mass of blood and human tissue on the back and upper parts. Her eyes were closed.

"I will not look at a picture where I'm tormented by what I saw and felt that night," Pistorius said. "As I picked Reeva up, my fingers touched her head. I remember. I don't have to look at a picture, I was there."

Pistorius, 27, says he shot Steenkamp in the pre-dawn hours on Valentine's Day — in the head, arm and hip — by mistake thinking she was a dangerous intruder behind the door in his bathroom about to come out and attack him. Prosecutors charge he killed the 29-year-old intentionally, and Nel aggressively questioned Pistorius for the first time.

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