The trial of Oscar Pistorius, the double-amputee South African track star, took a bizarre turn on Tuesday when a lawyer claimed that during an adjournment, the athlete had asked a close friend of the woman he is accused of murdering, “How can you sleep at night?”
Pistorius denied the accusation both directly and through his defense team.
The episode was said to have taken place during the 27th day of his trial in Pretoria, South Africa, on charges that he murdered Reeva Steenkamp, a 29-year-old model and law school graduate, in the early hours of February 14, 2013. The prosecution says he gunned her down after an argument; Pistorius, 27, says he mistook her for an intruder. She died when he fired four shots from a handgun through the door of a bathroom she had locked herself in.
Earlier, defence witnesses said they heard loud wails from a man with a high-pitched voice at the athlete’s home in a gated complex in Pretoria on the night Steenkamp was shot to death.
The defence apparently intended the testimony to rebut evidence by prosecution witnesses that they heard a woman screaming as shots were fired.
But those arguments were accompanied by a less obvious drama relating to Kim Myers, a close friend of Steenkamp’s, who was sitting in a part of the courtroom reserved for families and friends, close to the wooden dock where Pistorius sits.
“My client Kim Myers was approached by Oscar Pistorius in court today and, in a very sinister tone, was asked, ‘How can you sleep at night?’ “ a lawyer for Myers, Ian Levitt, said in a statement reported by journalists in the courtroom.
“My client views this unwelcome approach as extremely disturbing, and I have been in communication with the national prosecuting authorities as well as the investigating officer,” Levitt said. “All other parties have been informed. My client will remain focused on the trial and will continue to attend court in support of Reeva.”
Pistorius denied the accusation. “No, I haven’t spoken to her,” he told reporters, adding, in reference to her and her family: “I haven’t spoken to them for a year and a half. I walk past them in the corridors and hold doors open for them, but they don’t look me in the eye.”
Levitt said Pistorius might have been troubled by public remarks by the Myers family and might have come to “the slanted view that they’re against him.”