Prosecutor calls Pistorius 'appalling witness' during closing remarks

Oscar Pistorius's trial may finally come to an end. (Getty Images)

Prosecuting lawyer Gerrie Nel hammered Oscar Pistorius on Thursday, calling the disgraced runner an “appalling witness” who was “vague” and deceitful with his testimony during the state’s closing arguments. 

Pistorius, whose culpability in the 2013 murder of his girlfriend Reeva Steenkamp has been debated throughout the five-month trial, heard the prosecution batter and tarnish his statements as it tried to prove that the Olympian intentionally tried to kill Steenkamp on Valentine’s Day of last year. Nel also picked apart the defense’s strategy, exposing how Pistorius’ team portrayed the killing as an act of self-defense, while also suggesting that perhaps Pistorius wasn’t criminally responsible for the fatal shooting because he was “startled” when he heard a noise in his bathroom. 

“It’s two defenses that you can never reconcile,” Nel said in front of Judge Thokozile Masipa, who will hear the defense’s closing arguments on Friday. After Barry Roux’s final remarks, Masipa and two legal assistants will confer before a verdict is reached. 

The prosecution’s chief argument is that Pistorius, upon hearing a noise in his bathroom, never confirmed the whereabouts of Steenkamp before discharging four shots. The defense has maintained that Pistorius felt he was shooting at an intruder. 

Nel asserted that Pistorius used “well-calculated and rehearsed emotional outbursts to deflect the attention and avoid having to answer questions.” Numerous times throughout the trial Pistorius lost control of his emotions, either breaking down in hysteric cries or vomiting. 

The case was halted mid-trial as Pistorius underwent a psychiatric evaluation, which ultimately determined he wasn't mentally unstable at the time of the shooting. The same report did, however, note that Pistorius could be at a higher suicide risk.

Masipa will ultimately decide whether Pistorius intended on killing Steenkamp or whether it was a fatal error. He could face 25 years to life if he's convicted of premeditated murder. 

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