“I remember… my fingers touched her head, I do not have to look at a picture,” he sobbed in protest after State prosecutor Gerrie Nel displayed the close-up photograph of Steenkamp on screens in the High Court in Pretoria.
Nel had told the paralympian the bullets he fired at his girlfriend through a locked door on Valentine’s Day last year had the same impact as those he fired at watermelons on a shooting range in footage shown to the court.
“You know the same happened to Reeva’s head, it exploded,” said Nel, as Pistorius’s family flinched in the public benches.
“It had the exact same effect, the bullet that went into her head.”
Pistorius’s lawyer Barry Roux leapt up to object to the prosecutor’s questioning and Judge Thokozile Masipa adjourned court to allow the paralympian time to calm down, as she has done several times before this week,
It was Pistorius’s third day on the stand after two in which, under questioning from Roux, the double amputee athlete spoke first of his early life, his rise to fame and his religious faith before giving a detailed account of the shooting.
Pistorius told the High Court in Pretoria he believed he was protecting himself and Steenkamp from an intruder and collapsed wailing when he recalled forcing open the bullet-riddled door to find his dying girlfriend.
Asked by Roux on Wednesday, whether he intended to cause her death, Pistorius firmly responded: “I did not intend to kill Reeva, My Lady or anybody else for that matter.”
With that Roux’s questioning ended and Nel launched into cross-examination, seeking to prove the State’s contention that Pistorius shot Steenkamp with intent after the couple had an argument.
Nel began with the statement: “Mr Pistorius you were and still are one of the most recognised faces in the world. You are a model for disabled and able-bodied sportsmen all over the world.”
Pistorius replied softly that this was the case before he made “a mistake”.
Nel snapped: “You made a mistake? You killed a person. You shot and killed Reeva.
“Won’t you take responsibility for that?”
The prosecutor then reminded Pistorius that he had testified that he was a practising Christian and asked whether he always told the truth.
“I try not to lie,” came the reply.
Nel went on to ask Pistorius what a “zombie stopper” was and if he had been in the presence of someone using the term. When Pistorius said no, Nel introduced the Youtube video amid protest from the defence team.
In it Pistorius was heard commenting that the watermelon he blew apart was “softer than brains” and comparing the bullets he fired to “zombie stoppers”.
Nel also pointed to discrepancies between Pistorius’s statement at his bail hearing last year and his testimony this week in his murder trial, notably that they differed as to whether he went out onto his bedroom balcony to fetch a fan on the night of the shooting.
“I never went onto the balcony to bring the fan in,” Pistorius stated firmly on Wednesday
Nel repeatedly asked whether Pistorius he had tailored his evidence after listening to the case unfold in court, or consulting with expert witnesses still expected to testify in his defence.
In sometimes rambling answers, Pistorius said this was true.
“If you argue or think about other evidence, you will get into trouble,” Nel warned.
Pistorius in 2012 became the first double amputee to compete in the Olympics. If found guilty of murder, he risks life in jail.