PRETORIA, South Africa (AP) — The chief lawyer for Oscar Pistorius on Tuesday sought to show at the athlete's murder trial that he had a loving relationship with the girlfriend he killed, referring to telephone messages in which they exchanged warm compliments and said they missed each other.
The testimony contrasted with several messages read out in court at the request of the prosecution a day earlier in which Pistorius and Reeva Steenkamp argued in the weeks before he fatally shot her. In those messages, Steenkamp told the double-amputee runner that she was sometimes scared by his behavior, which included jealous outbursts in front of other people.
Defense lawyer Barry Roux noted that the tense messages amounted to a tiny fraction of the roughly 1,700 messages that police Capt. Francois Moller, a cellular telephone expert, extracted from the mobile devices of the couple. Roux noted a Jan. 19 exchange in which Reeva sent Pistorius a photo of herself in a hoodie and making a kissing face, followed by the message: "You like it?"
"I love it," Pistorius said, according to the message.
"So warm," Steenkamp responded.
Roux was also granted permission to show CCTV video, earlier broadcast by Sky News, that showed Pistorius and Steenkamp kissing in a convenience store. And he asked Moller to read out a Jan. 9 message from the model to her athlete boyfriend. It read:
"You are a very special person. You deserve to be looked after."
Chief prosecutor Gerrie Nel questioned the relevance of showing the convenience store video, saying he could ask for a courtroom viewing of another video, also broadcast by Sky News, that shows Pistorius at a gun range, firing a shotgun and using a pistol to shoot a watermelon, which bursts on impact.
Nel also said that many messages of affection between the couple were brief, in contrast to the texted arguments, which were far longer and dwelled on their relationship in greater depth.
Earlier, Moller said Steenkamp connected to the Internet on her cellular telephone hours before Oscar Pistorius killed her. She made the connection just before 9 p.m. on Feb. 13, 2013, and the connection lasted for more than 11 hours, possibly because social media programs were still open. Pistorius fatally shot her shortly after 3 a.m. through a closed toilet door in his home.
"If an application is not closed, it will carry on running," Moller said.
Pistorius fatally shot Steenkamp in his home the early hours of Valentine's Day, and Moller's extraction of data also shed light on what appeared to be a frantic series of phone calls made from one of Pistorius' cellular telephones after the killing. They include a call to the administrator of the housing estate where Pistorius lived at 3:19 a.m. on Feb. 14, a call a minute later to an ambulance service and a call a minute after that to the housing estate security.
The phone that was used for those and other calls was only handed over to police 11 days later, Moller said.
Police analysis also showed that a five-minute Internet connection was made on Pistorius' telephone from 1:48 a.m. on Feb. 14, a little over an hour before he killed Steenkamp. Moller did not specify whether the connection was manual or automatic.
Moller said he received as evidence two BlackBerry phones, two iPhones, two iPads and a Mac computer from Pistorius' house the day after Steenkamp was shot to death.
Prosecutors allege Pistorius killed Steenkamp after an argument. Pistorius says he killed her by accident, mistaking her for an intruder in his house.
Torchia reported from Johannesburg.
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