Oscar Pistorius trial: Messages show couple's affection

AGENCIES | DECCAN CHRONICLE
Published Mar 25, 2014, 9:22 pm IST
Updated Apr 8, 2019, 10:06 am IST
Pistorius fatally shot Steenkamp in his home the early hours of Valentine's Day in 2013. Photo: AP
 Pistorius fatally shot Steenkamp in his home the early hours of Valentine's Day in 2013. Photo: AP

Pretoria: The chief lawyer for Oscar Pistorius on Tuesday sought to show at the athlete's murder trial that he had a loving relationship with the girlfriend he killed, referring to telephone messages in which they exchanged warm compliments and said they missed each other.

The testimony contrasted with several messages read out in court at the request of the prosecution a day earlier in which Pistorius and Reeva Steenkamp argued in the weeks before he fatally shot her.
In those messages, Steenkamp told the double-amputee runner that she was sometimes scared by his behavior, which included jealous outbursts in front of other people.
 
Defence lawyer Barry Roux noted that the tense messages amounted to a tiny fraction of the roughly 1,700 messages that police Capt. Francois Moller, a cellular telephone expert, extracted from the mobile devices of the couple.
Roux noted a January 19 exchange in which Reeva sent Pistorius a photo of herself in a hoodie and making a kissing face, followed by the message: "You like it?"
 
"I love it," Pistorius said, according to the message.
"So warm," Steenkamp responded.
 
Roux was also granted permission to show CCTV video, earlier broadcast by Sky News, that showed Pistorius and Steenkamp kissing in a convenience store. And he asked Moller to read out a January 9 message from the model to her athlete boyfriend. It read: "You are a very special person. You deserve to be looked after."
 
Chief prosecutor Gerrie Nel questioned the relevance of showing the convenience store video, saying he could ask for a courtroom viewing of another video, also broadcast by Sky News, that shows Pistorius at a gun range, firing a shotgun and using a pistol to shoot a watermelon, which bursts on impact.
 
Nel also said that many messages of affection between the couple were brief, in contrast to the texted arguments, which were far longer and dwelled on their relationship in greater depth.
 
Reeva Steenkamp phone was connected to the internet hours before Oscar Pistorius killed her, and the connection was still running automatically hours after her death, an expert from the South African police testified Tuesday at the athlete's murder trial.

Capt. Francois Moller, who downloaded data from the cell phones of both Pistorius and his girlfriend, said Steenkamp made an Internet connection just before 9 p.m. on Feb. 13, 2013, and the connection lasted for more than 11 hours, possibly because social media programs were still open. Pistorius fatally shot her about six hours later through a closed toilet door in his home.

"If an application is not closed, it will carry on running," Moller said.

Defense lawyer Barry Roux also indicated that Steenkamp's phone could not have been manually used by anyone for the entire period cited by Moller, saying: "It does not mean that it is human interaction."

Pistorius fatally shot Steenkamp in his home the early hours of Valentine's Day, and Moller's extraction of data also shed light on what appeared to be a frantic series of phone calls made from one of Pistorius' cellular telephones after the killing. They include a call to the administrator of the housing estate where Pistorius lived at 3:19 a.m. on Feb. 14, a call a minute later to an ambulance service and a call a minute after that to the housing estate security.

The phone that was used for those and other calls was only handed over to police 11 days later, Moller said.

Moller said he received as evidence two BlackBerry phones, two iPhones, two iPads and a Mac computer from Pistorius' house the day after Steenkamp was shot to death

Prosecutors allege Pistorius killed Steenkamp after an argument. Pistorius says he killed her by accident, mistaking her for an intruder in his house.

Meanwhile the defence in Pistorius's murder trial will open on Friday, after the prosecution  rested its case and the court was adjourned.
 
"This is the state's case," state prosecutor Gerrie Nel told the court Tuesday before the two-day adjournment was granted.

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