Pistorius’s Friend Challenges Athlete’s Denial of Car ShootingFranz Wild and Christopher Spillane
Oscar Pistorius, on trial for murdering his girlfriend, laughed after firing a gun through the sunroof of a car, a friend and witness said, contradicting the athlete’s argument that he didn’t shoot his weapon.
Double-amputee Pistorius, 27, pleaded not guilty on March 3 in the High Court in Pretoria, South Africa’s capital, to planning to shoot his girlfriend Reeva Steenkamp at his home on Valentine’s Day last year. He’s also defending three separate gun charges, including firing a gun out of a car and in a Johannesburg restaurant.
The Paralympian gold-medalist was traveling with his then girlfriend Samantha Taylor and friend Darren Fresco when they were stopped and fined by police for speeding. A police officer picked up Pistorius’s firearm off his seat and removed a bullet from the chamber, which upset the athlete and led to an altercation between the two, Fresco told the court today.
“He was furious that someone else had touched his gun,” Fresco said. “Without prior warning he shot out of the sunroof. The noise had gone off above my left ear. By that stage it literally felt as if my ear was bleeding. I had a constant ringing in my left ear. He just laughed about what happened.”
Taylor told the court on March 7 that Pistorius fired his weapon through the sunroof and that he and Fresco had joked about shooting a traffic light.
Pistorius, wearing a charcoal-coloured suit, made notes during the testimony. Earlier he faced a second day of detailed testimony from a medical examiner about the gunshot wounds suffered by Steenkamp that left him sobbing and vomiting yesterday.
Known as the Blade Runner because of his J-shaped prosthetic running blades, Pistorius has admitted to shooting Steenkamp, saying he thought she was an intruder in his bathroom in the early hours of Feb. 14, last year. Judge Thokozile Masipa will give final judgment after the trial because South Africa doesn’t have a jury system. Pistorius is been free on 1 million rand ($93,000) bail.
Fresco corroborated testimony from Boxer Kevin Lerena last week that Pistorius discharged a Glock firearm in a Johannesburg restaurant. Fresco handed Pistorius a gun under a table after he requested it and told the athlete there was a bullet in the chamber.
“What he didn’t realize is that he’d cycled another bullet into the chamber,” Fresco said. “He pulled the trigger to supposedly make it safe. A shot went off.”
Nel may call more than 100 witnesses in the trial that’s in its second week and is being broadcast live on radio and TV.
The charges have derailed the running career of the winner of six Paralympic gold medals and cost Pistorius sponsorship deals with Nike Inc. and Luxottica Group SpA’s Oakley. He was the first double amputee to compete at the Olympics Games in London in 2012.