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Pistorius' lawyer says 'cold facts' do not prove murder

Oscar Pistorius' defence lawyer said on Friday (Aug 8) the "cold facts" did not prove the star sprinter had intended to kill his model girlfriend, as he launched a final bid to save the "Blade Runner" from life in prison. 

PRETORIA: Oscar Pistorius' defence lawyer said on Friday (Aug 8) the "cold facts" did not prove the star sprinter had intended to kill his model girlfriend, as he launched a final bid to save the "Blade Runner" from life in prison. In his closing argument, defence lawyer Barry Roux sought to pick apart the prosecution's case that his famous client had deliberately murdered 29-year-old Reeva Steenkamp after an argument in the early hours of Valentine's Day 2013.

Roux accused the state of ignoring evidence from Pistorius' upmarket Pretoria home that did not support its "circumstantial" case, a day after the prosecution painted the athlete as a liar. "The failure of the state to present that evidence leaves one big question mark," said Roux, "that's the failure of the state's case".

He argued that evidence suggested Pistorius should never have faced murder charges, but rather the trial should have begun with a lesser charge of culpable homicide.

On Thursday Pistorius, a Paralympian known as the "Blade Runner" for his prosthetic legs, was branded a "deceitful" witness by prosecutor Gerrie Nel in his final arguments. Pistorius' efforts to concoct an alibi had led to a "snowball effect" of lies requiring more lies to back them up, Nel said.

The athlete says he killed Steenkamp by firing four shots through a locked toilet door after mistaking her for an intruder in his upmarket Pretoria home on the night of Valentine's Day last year.

The prosecution argues that he deliberately killed her after an argument. "In an attempt to tailor his version to support his plea explanation, he tangled himself in a web," said Nel.

Summing up the state's meticulous 200-page review of evidence gleaned from almost 40 witnesses, Nel said Pistorius, 27, was guilty of "a baker's dozen" of misleading statements. Nel addressed the court for most of the day on Thursday before the defence had a brief opportunity to outline the counter-arguments it will present on Friday.

Roux has indicated that he will focus on the timeline of events the night of the shooting, from disputed sounds of gunshots and equally disputed sounds of screams heard by neighbours.

Pistorius, a double-amputee who rose to international fame when he competed alongside able-bodied runners at the 2012 London Olympics, has at times sat weeping and vomiting in the dock as grisly details of Steenkamp's death were presented. Once a poster boy for disabled sport, he has been stripped of lucrative endorsement deals by global brands and has withdrawn from all competition.

He faces 25 years in jail if he is convicted of premeditated murder. He also faces three separate gun-related charges. Even if he is not found guilty of premeditated murder, Pistorius could still be convicted and jailed on alternative charges of culpable homicide.

A verdict in the high profile murder trial has been set for Sep 11, after lawyers wrapped up five months of drama-filled proceedings on Friday. 

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