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  • 8 August 2014, 15:52

Pistorius Trial: 'He Did Not Want Reeva Dead'

Oscar Pistorius' lawyer has said the athlete should never have been charged for murder, arguing he would not have tried so desperately to save Reeva Steenkamp had he intended to kill her.

Setting out the key points of the defence, Barry Roux asked the judge: "Why would he beg for help, be crying if he had just deliberately killed her?"

His day-long closing statement focused on two key points.

Firstly that Pistorius had no motive for killing his girlfriend, with whom he was in a loving relationship.

He said Pistorius had believed he was firing on an intruder, arguing his subsequent behaviour was consistent with him having made a "huge, unfortunate mistake."

Secondly that he said the athlete's disability meant he could not be expected to respond like an able-bodied person to the fear associated with an intrusion.

He said Pistorius had developed an "exaggerated fight response" over time, because fleeing was not an option.

Pistorius, a double-amputee, spent his whole life "knowing he couldn't run away," Mr Roux said.

He referenced a number of experts who testified that Pistorius had what he called a "slow burn reaction" to having lived his life with the disability, which had left him vulnerable and anxious.

He said that culminated in the moment he was startled by a noise and reacted, using the analogy of an abused woman who shoots her husband after years of violence.

Slamming his fist on the table, Mr Roux mimicked the noise Pistorius claims he heard and went on to explain that as an athlete he would have had a reflexive response to loud sounds which will have made him pull the trigger.

"You're standing at that door. You're vulnerable. You're anxious. You're trained as an athlete to react. Take all those factors into account," Roux said.

"He stands with his finger on the trigger, ready to fire when ready. In some instances a person will fire reflexively," he added. "That is your primal instinct."

Mr Roux said Pistorius won't have known what he was doing and therefore not be held responsible for murder.

The athlete's lawyer was picking up where he left off on Thursday when he began summing up the defence, taking over from prosecutor Gerrie Nel.

Having put forward the crux of the defence relatively early, Mr Roux proceeded to go through a detailed timeline of events, attempting to reverse the prosecution's assertion that Pistorius' lies had "snowballed".

He used phone records and witness statements to back up Pistorius' version of events, which the prosecution had described as a "crumbling mosaic."

He listed all the areas where the prosecution had fallen short, accusing them of selectively calling in witnesses who lived far away from the crime scene and not calling in witnesses who lived nearby and had testified they heard a man screaming on the night of the murder, not a woman.

He also reiterated claims that police had mishandled evidence in the days after the killing.

Sky News' Special Correspondent Alex Crawford, who is in the courtroom in Pretoria, says Mr Roux put the defence case forward "hammer and tongs", having spent much of the trial in the shadow of Mr Nel who is nicknamed "the pitbull".

The prosecution alleges that Pistorius intended to shoot and kill Ms Steenkamp when he fired four shots through the bathroom door where she was hiding after an argument on February 14 last year.

In his closing argument, however, Mr Nel argued that regardless of whether he knew he was firing at his girlfriend, Pistorius intended to kill whoever he believed was behind the door.

Mr Nel said Pistorius therefore cannot escape a murder conviction.

The state is pressing for the athlete to be convicted of premeditated murder - which carries a life sentence.

Judge Thokozile Masipa has adjourned the trial to deliberate on her verdict with two legal assistants.

She has set the date for the verdict on Sept 11.

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