Oscar Pistorius on trial - day 23

Pistorius excused from stand 

Murder-accused Oscar Pistorius was excused from the witness stand, with prosecutor Gerrie Nel having concluded his cross-examination on Tuesday morning.

Re-examining Pistorius, defence counsel Barry Roux, SC, asked him how he felt at the time he heard a noise that led him to believe there was an intruder in his house.

Pistorius said he felt helplessness, terror and feared for his and Steenkamp's life.

"I didn't think about pulling the trigger," he said.

He immediately followed this by stating that he pulled the trigger.

Roux then asked for a Valentine's card and letter to be given to Pistorius.

The card, from Reeva Steenkamp to Pistorius and from "the day of the accident" as stated by the paralympian, was read out by Roux to the court.

It concluded "I think this is a good day to say I love".

Roux ended his re-examination on this note.

One of the assessors asked Pistorius whether Steenkamp had access to the alarm, whether she would have been able to turn it off, and the light in the toilet.

Pistorius said the toilet light was not working and was not sure whether Steenkamp would have been able to access the alarm.

The paralympian also faces three charges of contravening the Firearms Control Act, on which he has also denied guilt.

Nel finishes Pistorius cross-examination 

Prosecutor Gerrie Nel on Tuesday concluded his cross-examination of murder-accused paralympian Oscar Pistorius.

Looking sternly at Pistorius, he said the court would find that Steenkamp had eaten three hours prior to being shot dead. Pistorius had told the court the couple had eaten hours before. 

The arguments that a neighbour claimed to have heard prior to the shootings happened as Steenkamp was eating.

The "blood-curdling" screams that several neighbours claimed to have heard came from Steenkamp. Pistorius had testified that he was the one who was screaming as he tried to break down the door, trying to reach Steenkamp.

Nel said Steenkamp had run to the toilet, and Pistorius armed himself with the sole purpose of killing her.

Pistorius had testified he did not see Steenkamp heading to the toilet. He claimed to have told her to call the police. The reason for Pistorius being so emotional was due to him being overcome by what he had done, Nel said.

Earlier, Nel questioned Pistorius on who should take the blame for killing Steenkamp.

"Should we blame Reeva for not telling you she was going to the toilet?" Nel asked.

"No, my lady," Pistorius answered.

Nel then asked whether government should be blamed for Steenkamp's death.

When court adjourned for tea, Pistorius's sister Aimee walked up to the witness-box where she hugged her brother.

He smiled at her and wiped an eye using his fingers.    

"I heard her breathing": Pistorius  

After Oscar Pistorius broke into the toilet door in which Reeva Steenkamp had been shot, he heard her breathing, the High Court in Pretoria heard on Tuesday.

"I pulled her around onto me and then I heard her breathing, and then I tried to get her up," Pistorius said during cross examination by prosecutor Gerrie Nel.

Pistorius said he was crying out Reeva Steenkamp's name as he tried breaking into the toilet cubicle where she was lying after being shot.

"I was crying out. I was screaming 'Reeva, Reeva'... crying and screaming... I was overcome with terror and despair. At times I was screaming, at times I was crying out," he said.

Earlier, Pistorius confirmed that while he was initially trying to use his shoulder to barge through the toilet door, he was still holding the gun he had fired in his right hand.  

    Movement in toilet questioned 

Oscar Pistorius's claim that he heard "movement" in his toilet before shooting into it was scrutinised in his trial in the High Court in Pretoria on Tuesday.

In his bail application statement Pistorius said "I heard movement inside the toilet", Nel read to the court during the paralympian's cross-examination.

On Monday Pistorius said this was a "wood movement" which he first said was the door scraping against the frame, but then said was made by the magazine rack in the toilet cubicle.

"Why use 'movement' and not 'noise', if it was wood?" Nel asked. "Why would you fire at the magazine rack, because it had nothing to do with the door?"

"I didn't have time to interpret," Pistorius replied.

Judge Thokozile Masipa told him to raise his voice.

"Why would you fire at the magazine rack?" Nel asked him.

"I thought it was the door opening. In retrospect it could only have been the magazine rack," Pistorius said.

Nel again said Pistorius was tailoring his version to match the facts he was being presented with. "You are constantly thinking of your version," Nel said.

Nel seeks postponement

A request to postpone the trial of murder-accused Oscar Pistorius was submitted in the High Court in Pretoria on Tuesday.

Prosecutor Gerrie Nel said, among other things, his colleague had another matter to attend to.

"There comes a time... and this is it, where the diary becomes clogged up," said Nel.

He also indicated that with the Easter long-weekend approaching, they had made personal arrangements which they would like to attend to.

Nel said he had the defence's support in the matter.

He requested that the trial be postponed sometime later this week and resume on May 5.

Judge Thokozile Masipa said she would consider the application and possibly give a ruling on Wednesday.

As Nel continued with his cross-examination of the "Blade Runner", he indicated he would most likely conclude it on Tuesday.

Pistorius, who has been charged with the murder of his girlfriend Reeva Steenkamp, has been in the witness box since last Monday.