Oscar Pistorius‘ murder trial shifted focus to a January 2013 restaurant incident, when he accidentally shot a gun under a table and convinced a friend to take the blame, according to a witness.
Three witnesses testified Wednesday about a lunch incident at a Johannesburg restaurant — professional boxer Kevin Lerena (who was part of the four-man party including Pistorius at the table) and the restaurant’s owner and wife.
The group members at the table were Lerena, Pistorius, two-time British Olympic 400m runner Martyn Rooney and Darren Fresco. Fresco passed a gun under the table to Pistorius, who accidentally shot it, grazing Lerena’s foot and putting a hole through the floor, Lerena said.
Pistorius apologized, asked if everybody was OK and, before anybody came to the table, asked Fresco to take the blame for the gunshot. Pistorius cited the amount of media hype around him when asking Fresco, Lerena said. Fresco obliged.
The incident could affect the judgment of the murder charge against Pistorius for shooting and killing girlfriend Reeva Steenkamp on the early morning of Valentine’s Day 2013 in Pretoria. Pistorius fired a gun in both cases and did not own up to the restaurant shooting, according to Lerena’s testimony.
Pistorius, the first double amputee to run at the Olympics in 2012, has said he thought Steenkamp was an intruder in his bathroom when he shot four times through the door and killed her last year.
The prosecution asserts Pistorius shot her after a fight. Pistorius could face life in prison if convicted of premeditated murder with a minimum of 25 years.
The trial is scheduled to resume Thursday at 2:30 a.m. ET.
Here’s NBC News’ full recap from Wednesday.
Here’s video of Lerena describing the silence and shock of the restaurant gun incident and Pistorius asking Fresco to take the blame:
Here’s audio of the restaurant owner’s wife saying she hit Fresco over the head after reminding him of gun safety:
Here’s some atmosphere from Pretoria via Twitter:
Here are photos from Pretoria via The Associated Press:
Video: Ato Boldon offers perspective on Oscar Pistorius