Prosecutor seeks to cast doubt on Pistorius' 'vulnerability'

Mon Jul 7, 2014 10:58am EDT
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By Siyabonga Sishi

PRETORIA (Reuters) - A South African prosecutor sought on Monday to cast doubt on the defense's portrayal of Oscar Pistorius as a vulnerable person, a day after a leaked video showed the Paralympic star calmly re-enacting the night he killed his girlfriend.

Pistorius, who had his lower legs amputated as a baby, is accused of murdering his law graduate and model girlfriend Reeva Steenkamp at his home in Pretoria on Valentine's Day last year. If convicted, he could face life in prison.

Since the trial opened in early March, the defense team has worked to portray Pistorius as a vulnerable and caring boyfriend who killed 29-year-old Steenkamp accidentally after mistaking her for an intruder hiding behind a closed toilet door.

The prosecution led by Gerrie Nel has argued Pistorius is a gun-obsessed hot-head who often lost his temper with Steenkamp.

"If you find a homeless person on the street, that person would be vulnerable? If you find poor people, without houses with alarms and guards, they will be vulnerable?" Nel said in his cross-examination of defense witness Wayne Derman, doctor of the South African Paralympic team which had included Pistorius.

"In this instance we found somebody ... living in a security complex with an alarm system and guards. If Mr Pistorius was vulnerable on that night, he armed himself ... with a gun in his hand, he is less vulnerable," Nel added.

In previous testimony, Derman said that Pistorius had a "heightened fight response" due to his disability, which would explain his actions that led to the shooting of Steenkamp.


South African Olympic and Paralympic sprinter Oscar Pistorius sits in the dock during his trial in the North Gauteng High Court in Pretoria, July 3, 2014. REUTERS/Jerome Delay/Pool