Follow The Globe and Mail’s Africa correspondent Geoffrey York as he tweets from Oscar Pistorius’ murder trial.
A friend of Oscar Pistorius says he felt as if his ear was “bleeding” after Mr. Pistorius fired his 9mm pistol through the sunroof of a car in which they were driving, but the Olympic athlete gave no explanation and only laughed after the shooting.
Darren Fresco told the Pistorius murder trial about two shooting incidents involving the double-amputee Olympic hero. In the second incident, he said Mr. Pistorius asked him to “take the rap” for a gunshot in a restaurant, even though Mr. Pistorius was responsible.
Mr. Pistorius, who made history for becoming the first double-amputee track athlete to compete against able-bodied runners at the Olympics, is charged with murdering his girlfriend, Reeva Steenkamp, by deliberately shooting her through his bathroom door on Valentine’s Day last year.
He is also charged with firearms offences in connection with the restaurant and sunroof shooting incidents. He has denied all of the charges, saying that he thought Ms. Steenkamp was an intruder who had broken into his home.
Mr. Fresco testified that Mr. Pistorius was “furious” when a policeman picked up his 9mm pistol after they were stopped for speeding near Johannesburg in 2012. The policeman emptied a bullet from out of the gun, and Mr. Pistorius began yelling at him. “You can’t just touch another man’s gun,” he told the policeman, according to Mr. Fresco.
He told the policeman that the policeman’s fingerprints would be “all over” the pistol and he could be held liable for anything that happened with the pistol later, Mr. Fresco said.
Later, while they continued their drive, Mr. Pistorius suddenly fired his pistol out of the open sunroof without any warning, Mr. Fresco said. He testified that he instinctively ducked away from the noise, his ear was ringing and felt as if it was bleeding, and he asked Mr. Pistorius whether he was “f––-g mad.”
In the restaurant incident, Mr. Fresco testified that Mr. Pistorius had asked to look at his Glock pistol, so he passed it under the table to him. He said he leaned close to Mr. Pistorius and warned him that the pistol was loaded with one bullet in the chamber, and Mr. Pistorius said “okay,” but moments later the gun went off as Mr. Pistorius was handling it.
He said Mr. Pistorius immediately asked him to “take the rap” for the incident, to avoid any “media hype.” So he told the restaurant owners that the gun had accidentally gone off, and later offered to pay for the damages.
Both the restaurant and sunroof shooting incidents have been described by earlier witnesses in the trial, but Mr. Fresco is the first eyewitness to corroborate both of the earlier accounts. He said Mr. Pistorius had a “big love” of guns.
Some of the details in his testimony, however, contradicted the earlier accounts. For example, an ex-girlfriend of the Olympic athlete, Samantha Taylor, testified that Mr. Pistorius fired his pistol through the sunroof because he was irate at the policeman and had joked with Mr. Fresco about shooting a traffic light, and Mr. Fresco said he had no memory of this. He also explained his conversations with the restaurant owners in the reverse sequence that other witnesses have described.
In other testimony on Tuesday, pathologist Gert Saayman said it was probable that Ms. Steenkamp had consumed a meal around 1 a.m., about two hours before her death, despite a statement by Mr. Pistorius saying that they had retired for the evening at 10 p.m. He acknowledged, however, that he could not be certain of the exact time.
Dr. Saayman also testified that Ms. Steenkamp would probably have screamed after two of the gunshot injuries that she received – injuries to her arm and her hip – if those wounds occurred before her fatal gunshot injury to her head. Several neighbours have testified that they heard a woman’s terrified screams before the final gunshot.