World

Pistorius Closings: Aggressive Prosecution, Defense On Deck

South African prosecutors called Oscar Pistorius a "deceitful witness" Thursday. The last moments before a verdict are getting massive coverage.

Pistorius Closings: Aggressive Prosecution, Defense On Deck
Getty Images
SMS

The most critical moments of Oscar Pistorius' trial might be some of the last. The paralympic runner and former South African Olympian looked on Thursday as attorneys made their closing arguments.

GERRIE NEL, PROSECUTOR ON BBC: "It's the state's case that the accused was a deceitful witness. The court should have no difficulty in rejecting his core version of events."

Deceitful was the kindest term the prosecutor — who's been compared to a bulldog — used against Pistorius. He also called the athlete's testimony "appalling" and the defense's evidence "devoid of truth."

Pistorius is accused of murdering girlfriend Reeva Steenkamp on Valentine's Day 2013. This is the model and aspiring reality TV actress just one week before she died.

Pistorius doesn't deny killing Steenkamp. For the past several months, his attorneys have argued he thought she was an intruder when he fired several shots through a bathroom door in the middle of the night. (Video via Euronews)

Thursday's stories will undoubtedly have a certain focus and feel to them since it was the prosecution's chance at closing arguments. Pistorius' defense doesn't argue until Friday.

But CNN reported Thursday morning it appears defense attorneys will add another strategy — defense of incapacity.

The Los Angeles Times called it a long-shot defense, describing South African law allowing the strategy when a killer "is so emotionally overwhelmed by terror, rage or other emotions that he briefly loses control and acts unconsciously and involuntarily."

CNN's legal analyst said introducing the strategy at such a late state in the trial would be extremely unusual and potentially a sign of weakness.

KELLY PHELPS, CNN LEGAL ANALYST: "And the defense will need to work very hard to explain that away in a manner that doesn't make it look like they're clutching at straws."

​The trial in South Africa has reached a media coverage level that rivals the O.J. Simpson murder trial in the U.S. from the mid-'90s. Several outlets around the world like Sky News and BBC have carried it live on their websites or over the air, often with a 30-second delay in case prosecutors showed graphic images of Steenkamp's body.

But unlike in the U.S., the verdict will be entirely in the hands of the judge, Thokozile ​Masipa​.

The New York Times published an interesting sidebar article Wednesday morning profiling the judge, a former journalist and survivor of South Africa's apartheid. Throughout Pistorius' trial, white male lawyers have continually called Masipa "My Lady" — "still an extraordinary scene a generation after the end of apartheid."

After closing arguments wrap up Friday, Masipa will announce a later date for her to hand down a guilty or not guilty verdict.

This video includes images from Getty Images.