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Pistorius trial: Cell phone texts show tensions

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PRETORIA, South Africa (AP) — Oscar Pistorius and Reeva Steenkamp argued fiercely in the turbulent weeks before he killed her, and the athlete’s girlfriend told him she was sometimes scared by his behavior, which included jealous outbursts in front of other people, according to phone messages revealed at the Olympian’s murder trial on Monday.

“I’m scared of u sometimes and how u snap at me and of how u will react to me,” Reeva Steenkamp texted Pistorius, in a message read out in court by police Capt. Francois Moller.

In another message, Steenkamp wrote to the double-amputee runner: “I can’t be attacked by outsiders for dating u AND be attacked by you, the one person I deserve protection from.”

The messages suggested both lovers were experiencing emotional insecurity, though the exchanges revealed in court reflected prosecutors’ efforts to portray Pistorius as an aggressor with a short fuse, matching earlier testimony from a former girlfriend who had said he sometimes shouted at her. In one message, the runner indicated Steenkamp had not told him the full story about smoking “weed,” or using drugs, while she defended past conduct with the declaration: “I wasn’t a stripper or a `ho,'” a slang term for prostitute.

The court adjourned with Moller expected to return to the witness box on Tuesday. He has not yet revealed if police recovered any phone messages or communications from the night of the killing on Feb. 14, 2013.

Moller said that from Steenkamp’s phone he obtained more than 1,000 exchanges with Pistorius on WhatsApp and other phone messaging applications. Moller said he received as evidence two BlackBerry phones, two iPhones, two iPads and a Mac computer from Pistorius’ house the day after the shooting death of Steenkamp.

The data on Steenkamp’s phone would print to more than 35,000 pages, said Moller. Of the fraction of exchanges between the couple, he said that about 90 percent were what he called normal and “loving” exchanges.

In Steenkamp’s message about being scared of the athlete, she also added: “You make me happy 90% of the time and I think we are amazing together.”

She goes on to talk about Pistorius snapping at her about chewing gum and talking in an accent, and then writes: “I just want to love and be loved. Be happy and make someone SO happy. Maybe we can’t do that for each other. Cos right now I know u aren’t happy and I am certainly very unhappy and sad.”

The long message was sent after the two attended a friend’s engagement party and apparently left early because she said he got upset and jealous. As Moller read the message, Pistorius, who had been looking at a book of the compiled messages, closed his eyes. Tears fell to his lap. He wiped his eyes with a handkerchief and regained the composure he held through most of the day.

The runner apologized for his behavior in replies to Steenkamp’s message, according to the testimony.

Moller also read messages exchanged after a shooting incident at Tashas restaurant in Johannesburg about a month before the fatal shooting. Boxer Kevin Lerena and Darren Fresco, a onetime friend of Pistorius, testified that the Olympian asked Fresco to take the blame for a shot that went off after the loaded gun was passed to Pistorius under the table.

In the phone message exchange, the 27-year-old runner explained to 29-year-old Steenkamp: “Angel, please don’t say a thing to anyone … the guys promised not to say a thing,” he wrote. She then replied: “I have no idea what you’re talking about “

Pistorius has pleaded not guilty to a firearms charge related to that episode.

Earlier Monday a neighbor testified that she heard gunshots as well as screams from both a man and a woman on the night that Pistorius fatally shot Steenkamp.

Anette Stipp’s testimony matched some evidence given by other witnesses who said they also heard a woman screaming around the time that Pistorius killed Steenkamp before dawn on Valentine’s Day last year. According to Pistorius, he thought Steenkamp was in bed when he fired his 9 mm pistol. He did not describe any woman screaming.

The defense has countered that neighbors actually heard Pistorius screaming in a high-pitched voice after he shot Steenkamp. Pistorius has said he shot his girlfriend by mistake through a locked toilet door, thinking she was an intruder in his home.

Stipp said she heard what she thought were gunshots on the night of the shooting, and then heard the “terrified, terrified” screams of a woman.

Stipp recalled looking out from a balcony at two houses with lights on in the gated estate where her family and Pistorius lived.

“There was definitely a female screaming for quite a period,” Anette Stipp said. She said she also heard a man’s voice.

Pistorius trial: Cell phone texts show tensions

KDWN

PRETORIA, South Africa (AP) — Oscar Pistorius’ girlfriend told the athlete that she was sometimes afraid of him and complained that he had a short temper and was jealous in the weeks before he killed her, according to phone messages revealed at the Olympian’s murder trial on Monday.

“I’m scared of u sometimes and how u snap at me and of how u will react to me,” Reeva Steenkamp texted Pistorius, in a message read out in court by police Capt. Francois Moller.

In another message Steenkamp wrote to Pistorius: “I can’t be attacked by outsiders for dating u AND be attacked by you, the one person I deserve protection from.”

Moller said that from Steenkamp’s phone he obtained more than 1,000 exchanges with Pistorius on WhatsApp and other phone messaging applications. Moller said he received as evidence two BlackBerry phones, two iPhones, two iPads and a Mac computer from Pistorius’ house the day after the shooting death of Steenkamp.

The data on Steenkamp’s phone would print to more than 35,000 pages, said Moller. Of the fraction of exchanges between the couple, he said that about 90 percent were what he called normal and “loving” exchanges.

In Steenkamp’s message about being scared of the athlete, she also added: “You make me happy 90% of the time and I think we are amazing together.” She goes on to talk about Pistorius snapping at her about chewing gum and talking in an accent, and then writes: “I just want to love and be loved. Be happy and make someone SO happy. Maybe we can’t do that for each other. Cos right now I know u aren’t happy and I am certainly very unhappy and sad.”

The long message was sent after the two attended a friend’s engagement party and apparently left early because she said he got upset and jealous. As Moller read the message, Pistorius, who had been looking at a book of the compiled messages, closed his eyes. His face became red, and tears fell to his lap. He then wiped his eyes with a white handkerchief and regained the composure he held through most of the day.

The double-amputee apologized for his behavior in replies to Steenkamp’s message, according to the testimony.

Moller also read messages exchanged after a shooting incident at a Tashas restaurant about a month before the fatal shooting. Boxer Kevin Lerena and Darren Fresco testified that Pistorius asked Fresco to take the blame for a shot that went off after the loaded gun was passed to Pistorius under the table.

In the phone message exchange, the 27-year-old runner explained to 29-year-old Steenkamp: “Angel, please don’t say a thing to anyone … the guys promised not to say a thing,” he wrote. She then replied: “I have no idea what you’re talking about “

Investigators tried to access information on Pistorius’ locked iPhone for months and met Apple officials in the United States just before the trial started on March 3. Pistorius said he forgot the password to his phone.

Earlier Monday a neighbor testified that she heard gunshots as well as screams from both a man and a woman on the night that the double amputee runner fatally shot Steenkamp.

Anette Stipp’s testimony matched some of the evidence given by other witnesses earlier in the trial who said they also heard a woman screaming around the time that Pistorius killed Steenkamp before dawn on Feb. 14, 2013. According to Pistorius’ version of events, he thought Steenkamp was in bed when he fired his 9 mm pistol. He did not describe any woman screaming.

The defense has countered that the neighbors actually heard Pistorius screaming in a high-pitched voice after he shot Steenkamp. Pistorius has said he shot his girlfriend by mistake through a locked toilet door, thinking that she was an intruder in his home.

Stipp said under cross-examination that she heard gunshots while lying awake around 3 a.m. on the night of the shooting, and then heard the “terrified, terrified” screams of a woman. Her bedroom is situated across a grassy area about 70 meters (230 feet) from Pistorius’ home, and the windows of the athlete’s bathroom are visible from her window.

“The screaming at that stage just continued,” said Stipp, who recalled looking out from a balcony at two houses with lights on in the gated estate where her family and Pistorius lived.

She said she told her husband Johan, who previously testified, that the screaming sounded as though a “family murder” had taken place.

“There was definitely a female screaming for quite a period,” Anette Stipp said. “You could definitely hear two different voices.”

She said she then heard a second set of shots and the screaming stopped.

The defense has said that Pistorius fired into the door and then battered the door with a cricket bat to get to Steenkamp after realizing she was inside the toilet cubicle. It insists that some neighbors who testified mistook the sound of the cricket bat striking the door for gunshots.

Pistorius’ camp also maintains that Pistorius fired with quick bursts that gave Steenkamp no time to scream, and so Pistorius did not realize he was shooting at Steenkamp. A South African police ballistics expert, however, has testified that the first of three bullets that struck Steenkamp hit her in the right hip, giving her time to scream before she was hit in the arm and head.

Nel has said he will wrap up his case against Pistorius this week after calling four or five more witnesses to support his contention that the Olympian intentionally killed Steenkamp after an argument. The defense will then present its case.

Judicial officials say the trial will continue until May 16, with a recess in April.

Pistorius trial: Cell phone texts show tensions

KDWN

PRETORIA, South Africa (AP) — Oscar Pistorius’ girlfriend told the athlete she was sometimes scared of him and complained about what she described as his short temper and jealousy in the weeks before he killed her, according to phone messages revealed at the Olympian’s murder trial on Monday.

“I can’t be attacked by outsiders for dating u AND be attacked by you, the one person I deserve protection from,” Reeva Steenkamp wrote to Pistorius.

In another message read out loud by police Capt. Francois Moller, Steenkamp said she was sometimes afraid of the athlete: “I’m scared of you sometimes and how you snap at me and how you act at me.”

Moller extracted information from Steenkamp’s phone and said he obtained more than a 1,000 exchanges between her and Pistorius on WhatsApp and other phone messaging applications. Moller said he was given two BlackBerry phones, two iPhones, two iPads and a Mac computer the day after the shooting death of Steenkamp.

Moller said the data on her phone would print to more than 35,000 pages. Of the fraction of exchanges between the couple, Moller said that about 90 percent were what he called normal and “loving” exchanges.

In earlier testimony Monday a neighbor testified that she heard gunshots as well as screams from both a man and a woman on the night that the double amputee runner fatally shot Steenkamp.

Anette Stipp’s testimony matched some of the evidence given by other witnesses earlier in the trial who said they also heard a woman screaming around the time that Pistorius killed Steenkamp before dawn on Feb. 14, 2013. According to Pistorius’ version of events, he thought Steenkamp was in bed when he fired his pistol. He did not describe any woman screaming.

The defense has countered that the neighbors were actually hearing Pistorius screaming in a high-pitched voice after he shot Steenkamp, a 29-year-old model. Pistorius has said he shot his girlfriend by mistake through a locked toilet door, thinking that she was an intruder in his home.

Stipp said under cross-examination that she heard gunshots while lying awake around 3 a.m. on the night of the shooting, and then heard the “terrified, terrified” screams of a woman. Her bedroom is situated across a grassy area about 70 meters (230 feet) from Pistorius’ home, and the windows of the athlete’s bathroom are visible from her window.

“The screaming at that stage just continued,” said Stipp, who recalled looking out from a balcony at two houses with lights on in the gated estate where her family and Pistorius lived.

She said she told her husband Johan, who previously testified, that the screaming sounded as though a “family murder” had taken place.

“There was definitely a female screaming for quite a period,” Anette Stipp said. “You could definitely hear two different voices.”

She said she then heard a second set of shots, and the screaming stopped.

The defense has said that Pistorius fired into the door and then battered the door with a cricket bat to get to Steenkamp after realizing she was inside the toilet cubicle. It insists that some neighbors who testified mistook the sound of the cricket bat striking the door for gunshots.

Pistorius’ camp also maintains that Pistorius fired with quick bursts that gave Steenkamp no time to scream, and so Pistorius did not realize he was shooting at Steenkamp. A South African police ballistics expert, however, has testified that the first of three bullets that struck Steenkamp hit her in the right hip, giving her time to scream before she was hit in the arm and head.

Nel has said he will wrap up his case against Pistorius this week after calling four or five more witnesses to support his contention that the Olympian intentionally killed Steenkamp after an argument. The defense will then present its case.

Judicial officials say the trial will continue until May 16, with a recess in April.

Pistorius trial: Cell phone texts show tensions

KDWN

PRETORIA, South Africa (AP) — Phone messages between Oscar Pistorius and the girlfriend he shot dead indicate that she was sometimes afraid of him.

The couple had also argued about what she alleged was the athlete’s short temper and jealousy, police Capt. Francois Moller testified Monday, citing text messages he extracted from cell phones.

Moller says that about 90 percent of the messages he downloaded were what he called normal and “loving” exchanges. But there were exceptions that he printed out for the court in Pistorius’ murder trial.

In another message, Pistorius told Steenkamp that his friends will take the blame for a shooting incident that occurred a month before Steenkamp was killed.

Pistorius shot dead Steenkamp early Feb. 14, 2013. He says he mistook her for an intruder but the state argues he intentionally shot her after an argument.

THIS IS A BREAKING NEWS UPDATE. Check back soon for further information. AP’s earlier story is below.

A neighbor of Oscar Pistorius testified at his murder trial on Monday that she heard gunshots as well as screams from both a man and a woman on the night that the double-amputee runner fatally shot girlfriend Reeva Steenkamp.

Anette Stipp’s testimony matched some of the evidence given by other witnesses earlier in the trial who said they also heard a woman screaming around the time that Pistorius killed Steenkamp before dawn on Feb. 14, 2013.

The defense has countered that the neighbors were actually hearing Pistorius screaming in a high-pitched voice after he shot Steenkamp, a 29-year-old model. Pistorius has said he shot his girlfriend by mistake through a locked toilet door, thinking that she was an intruder in his home.

Chief prosecutor Gerrie Nel opened Monday’s court session by noting evidence will include analysis of cellular telephones, including two that were removed from the bathroom where the shooting happened.

Investigators had been chasing information on Pistorius’ locked iPhone for months and met Apple officials in the United States just before the trial started on March 3. Pistorius has said he forgot the password to his phone.

Stipp, the neighbor, said under questioning from Nel that she heard gunshots while lying awake around 3 a.m. on the night of the shooting, and then heard the “terrified, terrified” screams of a woman. Her bedroom is situated across a grassy area about 70 meters (230 feet) from Pistorius’ home, and the windows of the athlete’s bathroom are visible from her window.

“The screaming at that stage just continued,” said Stipp, who recalled looking out from a balcony at two houses with lights on in the gated estate where her family and Pistorius lived.

She said she told her husband Johan, who previously testified, that the screaming sounded as though a “family murder” had taken place.

“There was definitely a female screaming for quite a period,” Anette Stipp said. “You could definitely hear two different voices.”

She said she then heard a second set of shots, and the screaming stopped.

The defense has said that Pistorius fired into the door and then battered the door with a cricket bat to get to Steenkamp after realizing she was inside the toilet cubicle. It insists that some neighbors who testified mistook the sound of the cricket bat striking the door for gunshots.

Pistorius’ camp also maintains that Pistorius fired with quick bursts that gave Steenkamp no time to scream, and so Pistorius did not realize he was shooting at Steenkamp. A South African police ballistics expert, however, has testified that the first of three bullets that struck Steenkamp hit her in the right hip, giving her time to scream before she was hit in the arm and head.

Defense lawyer Kenneth Oldwadge pressed neighbor Anette Stipp on her recollections, questioning whether she was inside her house or on a balcony while hearing what she said were shots and screams, and whether she was alert because she had said she was slightly ill at the time. He said she was wrong to say the light was in Pistorius’ bathroom around the time of the shooting.

Stipp also testified about an incident this year in which she again heard screams in the estate at night. The testimony appeared to refer to what Pistorius’ defense lawyers have referred to as noise tests that they conducted to determine how sound carries and to prove their contention that the runner screams in a high voice when extremely anxious.

The sounds included a male voice screaming in both high and low pitches, Stipp said. The screaming this year, she said, had “very little emotion,” in contrast to the screaming she heard on the night of Steenkamp’s death.

Nel, the prosecutor, has said he will wrap up his case against Pistorius this week after calling four or five more witnesses to support his contention that the Olympian intentionally killed Steenkamp after an argument. The defense will then present its case.

Judicial officials say the trial will continue until May 16, with a recess in April.