Friend: I took the rap for Pistorius in gun incident

NEED TO KNOW
  • Double-amputee Olympic sprinter Oscar Pistorius is on trial for murder in the death of girlfriend Reeva Steenkamp
  • Pistorius says he shot Steenkamp after mistaking her for an intruder on Valentine's Day 2013
Friend: I took the rap for Pistorius in gun incident

Editor's note: Catch Vinnie Politan on Now: On the Case from 12 p.m. to 3 p.m. ET as he breaks down the day's testimony in the Oscar Pistorius trial.

Oscar Pistorius sat with a bright green bucket by his feet Tuesday morning as he listened to more testimony from a pathologist who described how the Olympic sprinter's former girlfriend, Reeva Steenkamp, died after being fatally shot by Pistorius on Valentine's Day in 2013.

Pistorius "retched repeatedly" during the first part of Professor Gert Saayman's testimony on Monday but seemed to keep it together Tuesday, according to producers who are inside the South African courtroom. The judge banned live-tweeting and live-blogging of Saayman's testimony but then lifted the ban once he was off the stand.

Read more: On location: Graphic testimony gets to Pistorius

Pistorius, a double-amputee who earned the nickname "Blade Runner" while competing as a sprinter, is facing a charge of premeditated murder for shooting Steenkamp during the early morning hours of February 14, 2013. Pistorius has never denied killing Steenkamp, but says he mistook her for an intruder. Prosecutors say the two were involved in a heated argument before the fatal shots rang out.

Pistorius also faces two additional weapons charges: one for an incident where he allegedly shot through a car's sunroof and another for an incident at a restaurant where a gun he was allegedly holding discharged.

Read more: 14 things to know about the Oscar Pistorius case

Darren Fresco, a friend of Pistorius, was present for both of those incidents and testified on Tuesday that Pistorius asked him to take the blame for the one at the restaurant.

"There's too much media hype around me," Fresco alleges Pistorius told him. He said he agreed to take the rap "with pleasure." 

Here are the highlights from the seventh day of trial as played out in short Instagram videos (Get caught up on day one, day two, day three, day four, day five and day six, too.):

Oscar Pistorius arrives in court Tuesday, the seventh day of his murder trial.

The judge lifts the ban on live-blogging and live-tweeting.

Darren Fresco is called to the stand. He was present when Pistorius shot a gun out of a car's sunroof. He describes how Pistorius was "furious" that the police officer had touched his gun after pulling them over.

"Without prior warning, he shot out the sunroof," Fresco says of Pistorius, who is facing a separate firearms charge related to the incident.

After the incident, Fresco says Pistorius "just laughed." He also describes how his ear was ringing and how "it literally felt as if my ear was bleeding."

They moved on to the incident at Tasha's restaurant, where a gun Pistorius was allegedly holding discharged. Fresco says Pistorius asked to see his gun, which he passed to him under the table. Fresco also says he knew Pistorius had a "big love for weapons," so he felt the sprinter was competent to handle the gun. Pistorius also faces a separate firearms charge related to this incident.

After the gun discharged, Fresco says Pistorius passed it back to him and said, "There's too much media hype around me at the moment, please can you take the rap for it?"

Fresco says this was his response to Pistorius: “Being a friend, I said, 'I would with pleasure.'"

During cross-examination, Fresco appears to become uncomfortable and swivels in his chair. He denies deliberately withholding information from police and says he doesn’t know why he didn’t mention earlier what the defense calls key pieces of evidence (such as the allegation that Pistorius knew there was a bullet in the chamber when he took the gun at the restaurant).

Fresco admits that he’s been following “bits and pieces” of the trial on Twitter. He has a few testy exchanges with the defense -- even rolling his eyes at one point -- before court is recessed for the day.


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