Pistorius Trial Resumes: Can The Defense Repair Its Case?

After a two-week recess, the defense team for Oscar Pistorius is expected to call nearly a dozen witnesses.
Posted at 8:50 AM, May 05, 2014

​The next few weeks are critical for Oscar Pistorius. As his murder trial resumes Monday, his defense team will now try to repair its credibility and convince the court the man dubbed the Blade Runner made a tragic mistake. (Via Flickr / Jim Thurston)

JOHAN STANDER:  “He was broken. He was screaming, he was crying, he was praying.” (Via ENCA

That was Pistorius’ friend and neighbor — testifying Monday how distraught Pistorius was the night Steenkamp died. He's one of nearly a dozen witnesses the defense is expected to call to bolster the track star's case. 

Pistorius is accused of murdering  Steenkamp in his home on Valentine’s Day 2013. He admits to shooting her, but has pleaded not guilty to premeditated murder — claiming mistook his girlfriend for an intruder the night fired four rounds of his handgun at the locked bathroom door of his home. (Via ITN, Channel 4

The prosecution has argued Pistorius shot his Steenkamp after an argument. Various neighbors have testified they heard shouting and a woman’s bloodcurdling screams the night Steenkamp died. (Via SABC

For weeks, state prosecutor Gerrie Nel,  known in South Africa as “The Bulldog," has relentlessly grilled Pistorius — at times leaving the athlete sobbing and feeling sick.

NEL: “You killed Reeva Steenkamp, that’s what you did.

PISTORIUS: “I made a mistake, my lady.” (Via Sky News

Many courtroom observers say Nel's brutal cross-examination has seriously damaged Pistorius' credibility.  

Further undermining Pistorius' version of events — he's now dealing with allegations he took acting lessons ahead of his testimony — which he denies. (Via Time

As for the defense, it's trying to prove the crime scene was poorly handled and possibly contaminated  by the police. They also say the high-pitched screams neighbors reported hearing actually belonged to Pistorius, not Steenkamp.

According to South Africa’s Eyewitness News, the defense will call a witness to testify Pistorius’s screaming is high pitched when he is nervous, and it will also call a psychologist to discuss the athlete's “issues of vulnerability.”

If convicted of premeditated murder, Pistorius would face a minimum of 25 years in prison. South Africa does not have a jury system — meaning Pistorius’ fate rests in the hands of the judge.