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Wednesday 1 October 2014

Pistorius team to end defence case

Published 07/07/2014 | 09:58

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Oscar Pistorius is on trial for the murder of his girlfriend Reeva Steenkamp

The defence team for Oscar Pistorius plans to close its case after its last witness completed his testimony at the murder trial today, a lawyer said.

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The end of testimony from a physician who has treated the athlete signals a new phase in the months-long trial of Pistorius, who killed girlfriend Reeva Steenkamp in his home in what he has described as a mistaken shooting.

It is expected to lead to a break during which the defence and prosecution prepare final arguments as the high-profile legal battle moves toward a conclusion.

Barry Roux, the chief defence lawyer, indicated that he would wrap up tomorrow morning after final consultations with his team.

"We plan to close the case," he told Judge Thokozile Masipa.

Pistorius, 27, has said he fatally shot the 29-year-old model through a closed toilet door after thinking there was an intruder in his home. The prosecution says he shot her after a Valentine's Day argument last year.

Earlier, chief prosecutor Gerrie Nel said the last defence witness, Wayne Derman, could not be objective about the double-amputee runner because he was too familiar with the Paralympian, having treated him over many years and travelled with him extensively.

Mr Derman had testified that Pistorius had an anxious nature linked to his disability, bolstering the defence case that the runner's allegedly deep sense of vulnerability was a factor in the killing because, according to his version, he believed he was under threat.

Under questioning, Mr Derman acknowledged that his testimony did not amount to a "forensic report" but disputed Mr Nel's assertion that he could not be objective.

On Sunday, an Australian broadcaster showed video footage of Pistorius participating in a re-enactment of how he says events unfolded on the night he killed Ms Steenkamp.

In the video, Pistorius is seen walking on his stumps with an arm outstretched and fist clenched, as though holding a gun. It also shows him carrying a woman. It is unclear where the re-enactment was filmed.

The broadcast by Channel Seven prompted criticism from a lawyer for Pistorius who said the re-enactment was made with the help of a US-based company last year as part of the defence team's trial preparations. The video has not been shown at the trial and was not mentioned in court today.

Pistorius, who is free on bail, faces 25 years to life in prison if found guilty of premeditated murder, but he could also be sentenced to a shorter prison term if convicted of murder without premeditation or negligent killing. Additionally, he faces separate gun-related charges.

He was born without fibulas, the slender bones that run from below the knee to the ankle. His lower legs were amputated when he was 11 months old.

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