The prosecution went on the offensive on Wednesday morning, Oscar Pistorius's first day facing cross-examination, repeatedly trying to get the Olympian to take responsibility for killing his former girlfriend, Reeva Steenkamp.
The prosecution's bold, unforgiving strategy included displaying gruesome images of Steenkamp's bloodied head after Pistorius fired four shots into his bathroom on Valentine's Day 2013.
“I don't have to look at a picture,” Pistorius replied, when urged to acknowledge the image. “I was there.”
“It's time you look at it,” lead prosecutor Gerrie Nel told Pistorius, who at times was overcome with emotion. According to the AP, audible gasps were heard when the image was displayed on multiple screens in the Pretoria courtroom.
“I will not look at a picture where I'm tormented by what I saw and felt that night,” Pistorius said, between outbursts of sobbing. “As I picked Reeva up, my fingers touched her head. I remember. I don't have to look at the picture. I was there.”
Wednesday's fiery session included a video clip of Pistorius firing a gun at a watermelon at a shooting range. Audio has Pistorius saying that upon impact, the watermelon was “softer than brains.” Nel seized on the clip, comparing it to what happened to Steenkamp.
“You killed her. You shot and killed her. Take responsibility for what you've done, Mr. Pistorius,” the prosecuting lawyer said.
As Yahoo noted, the cross-examination's combative strategy may ultimately backfire. At one point during Wednesday's testimony, Pistorius broke out into high-pitched shrieks, which could've been mistaken for a woman's voice. A few witnesses claimed to have heard a woman's screams the night Steenkamp was killed, while the defense maintains that it was Pistorius who cried out.
The prosecution contends that Pistorius knew he was firing on Steenkamp, while the defense asserts that the double-amputee felt his life was in danger from fear of an intruder.
“Before I knew it, I fired four shots through the toilet door. … I didn't have time to think about what I was doing,” Pistorius stated.
The prosecution hammered Pistorius on various minute details, hoping to portray an image of recklessness as opposed to a case of self-defense.
Pistorius could face a life sentence if convicted of premeditated murder.