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Friend: Pistorius shot gun out car without warning

March 11, 2014
Associated Press

PRETORIA, South Africa (AP) — Oscar Pistorius became furious with a police officer who handled his licensed gun after pulling the car he was in over for speeding, and the athlete later fired the gun out of the car's sunroof without warning, a friend of Pistorius said Tuesday at his murder trial.

The account by Darren Fresco, who has been identified as being with Pistorius on two occasions when a gun was fired in public, corroborated much of the testimony of another witness who was at the scene of the sunroof shooting.

'"You can't just touch another man's gun,'" Fresco recalled Pistorius telling the traffic officer in late 2012 after the group was pulled over for speeding.

The double-amputee runner has been charged with premeditated murder for the killing of girlfriend Reeva Steenkamp in the early hours of Feb. 14, 2013. He also faces three firearms charges, including two for allegedly shooting a gun in public that feature Fresco as a witness. They related to the alleged gunshot out of the sunroof, as well as another incident in which a gun was fired under a table in a busy restaurant in Johannesburg. Pistorius has pleaded not guilty to all four charges.

During the 2012 stop for speeding, according to Fresco, Pistorius also told the police officer: "Now your fingerprints are all over my gun. So if something happens, you're going to be liable for anything that happens."

Fresco said he and Pistorius and Samantha Taylor, the runner's girlfriend at the time and a state witness who has given a similar account of the episode, then drove away.

"Then without prior warning, he shot out the sunroof," Fresco, who was driving, said of Pistorius, who he said was in the passenger seat.

Fresco said he "instinctively" moved over to the right side of the vehicle and away from where the gun was shot, and then asked Pistorius if he was "mad."

"He just laughed," Fresco recalled. "But it felt as if my ear was already bleeding."

Fresco also testified that he took the blame when Fresco's gun, a Glock 27 .40 caliber pistol, was being handled by the Olympic runner under a table in a restaurant in early 2013 and fired. It was about a month before Pistorius killed Steenkamp.

Fresco testified Tuesday that he warned Pistorius that the gun was "one-up," meaning it had a bullet in the chamber.

"I knew that he had a big love for weapons ... my assumption was that he had competency," Fresco said in court.

Pistorius has said he shot Steenkamp by accident, fearing she was an intruder in his home. The prosecution says he intentionally killed her after an argument.

In earlier testimony, the chief lawyer for Pistorius questioned the methods of the pathologist who conducted an autopsy on Steenkamp. Prof. Gert Saayman was testifying for a second day about the gunshot wounds suffered by Reeva Steenkamp when Pistorius opened fire through a toilet cubicle door at his home before dawn on Valentine's Day last year.

Saayman has asserted that, judging by the food contents in her stomach, Steenkamp probably last ate no more than two hours before her death. Steenkamp was shot after 3 a.m., meaning she must have eaten after 1 a.m. Pistorius has said the couple was in the bedroom by 10 p.m.

Lawyer Barry Roux asked Saayman what medical texts he had consulted in reaching his conclusion about the food, and said he wanted to see them. Saayman said his findings were a "synthesis" of his own professional experiences and observations in addition to consultation of past studies.

Saayman also said the amount of urine in Steenkamp's bladder at the time of her death amounted to the rough equivalent of a teaspoon. The evidence could relate to theories about whether Steenkamp had gotten up in the middle of the night to go to the toilet, as Pistorius contends, or was there following a loud argument with the runner, as the prosecution has suggested.

The pathologist said he had conducted between 10,000 and 15,000 autopsies over 30 years.

 
 

 

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