Oscar Pistorius

Oscar Pistorius’ version of events ‘impossible,’ prosecutor says

2 Comments

Oscar Pistorius is lying about the events that led to his shooting of girlfriend Reeva Steenkamp last year, said the chief prosecutor repeatedly attacking his credibility at his murder trial Thursday.

“Your version is so improbable that nobody would ever think it’s reasonably possibly true,” Gerrie Nel said. “It’s impossible.”

Pistorius declined an opportunity to respond to that statement from Nel.

Instead, Pistorius said items in his bedroom must have been moved by crime-scene workers to comply with the sequence of events shortly before he fatally shot Steenkamp on Valentine’s Day 2013.

Pistorius, being cross-examined for the second day at his murder trial in South Africa on Thursday, said a fan, quilt and curtains shown in a police photograph were moved.

Pistorius, the first double amputee to run in the Olympics in 2012, said he thought Steenkamp was an intruder locked in his bathroom when he shot four times through a locked door, hitting and killing her inside. Nel claims Pistorius and Steenkamp had an argument and she “ran away screaming” before he killed her.

Pistorius faces 25 years to life in prison if convicted of premeditated murder. If not found guilty of premeditated murder, he could be convicted of culpable homicide, South Africa’s version of manslaughter for negligent killing.

On Thursday, Pistorius was questioned about his recollection of the night of Steenkamp’s death. He said he was lying on her stomach and fell asleep, then woke up in the middle of the night feeling hot.

“I sat up in bed,” Pistorius said. “I put my head down, my hands on my head and rubbed my face. Reeva asked me if I couldn’t sleep. I said I can’t.”

He said he then got out of bed without his prosthetic legs on, brought two fans inside from his balcony, closed and locked doors to the balcony and closed curtains. Pistorius has said he then heard a noise in his bathroom that led to the shooting.

Pistorius said Thursday he didn’t see or hear Steenkamp get out of bed and enter the bathroom. He didn’t know how or when she get out of bed.

“It was pitch black and it was behind me,” Pistorius said. “I had the fans blowing in my face.”

Pistorius said he didn’t know how many shots he fired — four — until somebody told him afterward.

“If Reeva had come out or spoken to me, I wouldn’t have fired,” he said.

Nel also questioned Pistorius about text messages with Steenkamp, including one that referred to a song by rapper Kendrick Lamar. Nel said Steenkamp objected to Pistorius playing a Lamar song on a car stereo.

A text message from Steenkamp stated, “You make me happy 90% of the time and I think we are amazing together but I am not some other bitch you may know trying to kill your vibe.”

“I don’t know Kendrick Lamar,” Nel said. “But what song are we talking about. … Is it, ‘Bitch, Don’t Kill My Vibe?’ Isn’t that the song?”

Pistorius didn’t know which song it was but was sure Steenkamp would have taken offense to a song with those lyrics. Nel painted a picture of Pistorius as a sometimes mean, egotistical boyfriend.

“Your life is just about you — what’s good for Oscar,” Nel said. “It was all about Mr. Pistorius. That was what your relationship was about.”

Pistorius said he never got the chance to tell Steenkamp he loved her and detailed how his life changed after the shooting.

“For weeks afterwards I slept,” he said. “I didn’t see anyone. I stayed in my room. I didn’t converse with anyone. I didn’t socialize. … I didn’t have much communication. I actually didn’t even have my phone. The state had my phones. So I didn’t have numbers, and I didn’t converse with many people.”

Here’s NBC News’ full coverage of the trial.

The trial is scheduled to resume at 3:30 a.m. ET on Friday with more cross-examining from Nel.

Video: Toronto mayor Rob Ford adds Ben Johnson to campaign team

Ragan Smith delivers in first U.S. championship title win

Leave a comment

ANAHEIM, Calif. (AP) — Ragan Smith embraced the role of heavy favorite coming into the U.S. gymnastics championships.

Thrust into the spotlight for the first time in her career, the 17-year-old hardly appeared intimidated by the stage. Smith pulled away from the field to claim her first national title Sunday, posting a score of 115.250, more than three points clear of Jordan Chiles in second place and Riley McCusker in third.

Smith opened up a 1.3-point lead over McCusker in the opening round Friday but admitted afterward she wasn’t particularly impressed by her own performance. She was considerably sharper less than 48 hours later, her 57.850 total in the finals was the best in the 16-woman all-around field by nearly two points.

Smith is one of the few holdovers from the 2016 Olympic cycle, serving as an alternate for the “Final Five” team that won half of the available medals in Rio de Janeiro last fall. Simone Biles, Gabby Douglas, Aly Raisman, Madison Kocian and Laurie Hernandez are taking breaks or have moved on, leaving Smith as the standard bearer for new national team coordinator Valeri Liukin.

The program appears to be in solid hands. Smith ditched “The Addams Family” themed floor routine she used last year for something a little more mature. It’s not the only part of her gymnastics that has grown up. Smith finished first on floor and beam and tied for third on bars.

Smith will be in the mix for the all-around title at the world championships in Montreal, where she’ll have a chance to extend the U.S.’s dominance. An American woman has won the world or Olympic title each of the last six years. Barring injury, Smith should be right there.

Liukin said he wasn’t alarmed following an uneven performance by the field in preliminaries, calling it a positive step for a group lacking in experience. The gymnastics were markedly improved in the finals.

Chiles slipped by McCusker into second thanks to a fabulous save on beam in which she turned a near disaster into something decidedly artful.

Chiles was in the middle of “wolf turn” (basically spinning on one foot while in a crouch on a 4-inch wide piece of wood) when she nearly fell over. Instead she rose to her feet, kept rotating, and went right into the next part of her routine as if it was planned all along.

Chiles’ steadiness gives Liukin another option as he tries to put together the rest of the four-woman team that will join Smith in Montreal. McCusker, only recently recovered from foot and wrist injuries, tried to keep the heat on Smith but stepped out of bounds following the last tumbling pass on her floor routine. McCusker finished first on bars — her legs practically magnetized together as she went from bar to bar — to win the event with ease.

Ashton Locklear, like Smith an alternate last summer, wound up second on bars with a watered down routine as he makes her way back from her own injury issues and should have time to install upgrades before Montreal.

Whoever heads to Canada in October will go with the usual expectations for what has become the sport’s most dominant program.

MORE: Simone Biles says being back in the gym is “OK” (video)

OlympicTalk is on Apple News. Favorite us!

Simone Biles says being back in the gym is “OK” (video)

Leave a comment

Simone Biles has competed in the six previous U.S. National Championships, winning the last four, but in Anaheim this year, she’s watching from the sidelines. Biles won four gold medals (team, all-around, vault and floor) and one bronze (on beam) last summer at the 2016 Rio Olympic Games.

This week she revealed she has returned to the gym to prepare for a yet to be determined event, in her return to competition.

When asked how she’s been doing in the gym by NBC Sports’ Andrea Joyce, Biles responded with her signature smile accompanied by an endearingly bashful eye roll, “the beginning is…OK.”

MORE: Danell Leyva on why he’s retiring

OlympicTalk is on Apple News. Favorite us!