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

Russia names flag bearer for Rio Olympic Opening Ceremony

LONDON, ENGLAND - AUGUST 08:  Sergey Tetyukhin #8 of Russia celebrates a point in the second set against Poland during the Men's Volleyball quarterfinals on Day 12 of the London 2012 Olympic Games at Earls Court on August 8, 2012 in London, England.  (Photo by Elsa/Getty Images)
Getty Images
Leave a comment

Russia’s depleted Olympic team named its flag bearer for the Rio Games Opening Ceremony, giving the honor to volleyball player Sergei Tetyukhin, who’s set to make his sixth Olympic appearance at 40 years old.

The announcement came via the Instagram page for Russian pole vaulter Yelena Isinbayeva, who has become somewhat of a spokesperson for the Russian team amidst the country’s doping scandal. Isinbayeva will not compete in Rio since her nation’s track and field team is banned, but she spoke to Russia’s athletes during a ceremony Wednesday.

“Today, as never before, we need to stay united and become a family,” Tetyukhin said before the athletes departed for Rio on Thursday.

Russia’s flag bearer was set to be announced Wednesday, according to Russian news agency TASS, but Isinbayeva said in her Instagram post (according to Google translate), “Flag bearer at the Olympics in Rio have already been defined, it is a great athlete, Olympic champion, Sergey Tetyukhin volleyball. Yesterday at a reception at the President he acted with dignity and promised to fight for the victory in Rio.”

The Russian men’s volleyball team has won a medal at the past four Olympics, but Tetyukhin’s time with the team began at the 1996 Atlanta Games. Russia placed fourth there, then took silver in 2000, bronze in 2004 and 2008, and gold in 2012. Tetyukhin was Russia’s third-leading scorer in London.

The team will be an outside medal contender in Rio. After winning the FIVB World League in 2013, the Russians have placed no better than fifth since. They finished fifth at the 2014 World Championship, fourth at the 2015 World Cup, and sixth at the 2015 European Championship.

Tennis star Maria Sharapova was Russia’s flag bearer for the London Olympic Opening Ceremony, but she will miss the Rio Games while serving a drug suspension.

MORE: Number of Russian athletes banned from Olympics reaches 105

Who will be the first U.S. gold medalist in Rio?

Katie Ledecky, Leah Smith
Getty Images
Leave a comment

The U.S. has no gold-medal favorites on the first day of the Olympics, which puts it in jeopardy of not reaching the top of the podium on Day 1 of the Games for the first time since 1996.

Who will be the first U.S. medalist and gold medalist in Rio? Let’s take a look.

The 12 Day 1 finals on Saturday, Aug. 6, in somewhat chronological order:

Shooting: Women’s air rifle
Shooting: Men’s air pistol
Cycling: Men’s road race
Fencing: Women’s epee
Archery: Men’s team event
Judo: Women’s 48kg
Judo: Men’s 60kg
Weightlifting: Women’s 48kg
Swimming: Men’s 400m individual medley
Swimming: Men’s 400m freestyle
Swimming: Women’s 400m individual medley
Swimming: Women’s 4x100m freestyle relay

The U.S. has a great shot at silver or bronze medals in some of these events. The men’s archery team took silver at the 2012 Olympics and fourth at the 2015 World Championships. In swimming, Chase Kalisz and Maya DiRado captured world championships bronze and silver medals in the 400m IMs last year, and the women’s 4x100m free relay has always made the podium (Australia is a heavy favorite though).

If the U.S. does not earn gold on Aug. 6, it will snap a streak of 20 straight days that it has made the top of a Summer Olympic podium dating to the 2008 Beijing Games.

The U.S. was all but assured a gold medal on the first day of the Olympics in 2004 and 2012 in the men’s 400m individual medley, with Michael Phelps and Ryan Lochte, respectively. Neither are swimming it this year.

In 2008, fencer Mariel Zagunis led a U.S. sweep of the women’s sabre on the first day in Beijing. In 2000, U.S. shooter Nancy Johnson took gold in the first medal event of the Sydney Games.

On Day 2 in Rio, the U.S. is almost surely going to take gold.

There are 14 finals on Sunday, Aug. 7, in somewhat chronological order:

Shooting: Women’s air pistol
Shooting: Women’s trap
Cycling: Women’s road race
Diving: Women’s synchronized springboard
Weightlifting: Women’s 53kg
Judo: Women’s 52kg
Judo: Men’s 52kg
Archery: Women’s team
Fencing: Men’s foil
Weightlifting: Men’s 56kg
Swimming: Women’s 100m butterfly
Swimming: Men’s 100m breaststroke
Swimming: Women’s 400m freestyle
Swimming: Men’s 4x100m freestyle relay

One could argue the U.S. is a gold-medal favorite in one of these events — the women’s 400m freestyle. Katie Ledecky is the two-time reigning world champion, world-record holder and the fastest woman in the world this year by 1.67 seconds. The second-fastest woman this year is another American, Leah Smith, so it would be shocking if the U.S. does not finish the first weekend of the Olympics with at least one gold medal.

MORE: Complete U.S. Olympic team roster