A boxer and former friend of Oscar Pistorius testified on Wednesday that the famed South African double-amputee runner once asked his friend to take responsibility for firing a shot in a Johannesburg restaurant just weeks before the alleged murder of Pistorius's girlfriend.
Pistorius, currently on trial for the alleged murder of 29-year-old Reeva Steenkamp, fired a single shot into the floor of a restaurant in January of 2013 and then asked that his friend assume responsibility for the incident, boxer Kevin Lerena stated on Wednesday.
The testimony by Lerena serves to raise character issues regarding Pistorius, who maintains that he shot Steenkamp in the early-morning hours of Feb. 14, 2003, thinking that she was an intruder.
Lerena testified that he, Pistorius, and two other friends were at the restaurant when one passed his gun beneath the table to Pistorius and informed him that there was a bullet in the chamber. Next the shot went off, grazing one of Lerena's toes.
“There was just complete silence,” Lerena said. Then Pistorius asked, “Are you OK? Is everybody OK?” according to Lerena.
Pistorius made his request before the restaurant manager had time to investigate what had happened.
“Just say it was you. I don't want any tension around me,” Lerena claims Pistorius told him. “There's too much media hype around me.”
For their part, primary defense lawyer Barry Roux attempted to downplay the testimony of a couple which claimed to have heard a woman's screams and gunshots the night of Steenkamp's killing. Roux claimed that the loud bangs heard by Charl Johnson and his wife were in fact Pistorius bashing down his bathroom door with a cricket bat after realizing that Steenkamp wasn't an intruder.
Pistorius's trial began on Monday where he entered a plea of not guilty.