Return to Transcripts main page


Pistorius Murder Trial: Pistorius Takes the Stand; Mystery of Flight 370

Aired April 8, 2014 - 06:30   ET



CHRIS CUOMO, CNN ANCHOR: Breaking news: Oscar Pistorius on the stand in his murder trial, talking about the night he shot and killed girlfriend Reeva Steenkamp.

OSCAR PISTORIUS, OLYMPIC RUNNER: But because of my shoulder injury I couldn't lie on my right shoulder, so for a couple of weeks I had been sleeping on and off on the left-hand side of the bed. It wasn't long after that that I started falling asleep and getting tired. It was extremely warm inside the room, and Reeva was still sitting up in bed. She was lying with her back against the headboard, and I was lying with my head on her stomach watching something on TV. I don't remember what it was.

And she would show me photos every now and again, what do you think of this or do you think this car. She showed me a picture of a car she really liked. And we had a short conversation about it. And I was getting increasingly tired. I said to her, do you want me to close the doors or would you close them when you come -- when you fall asleep, will you bring in the fans and close the curtains and lock the door when you -- when you fall asleep. And she said -- she said, you know, she said to me that she would. Then I fell asleep.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: If we can first stop there, Mr. Pistorius. It was not Valentine's Day, the Thursday, it was the next day after Valentine's Day.

PISTORIUS: That is correct, my lady.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Any Valentine's gift for you for the next day?

PISTORIUS: I had bought Reeva a bracelet from a designer that she liked earlier in the year. And I hadn't made plans for the 14th.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Would you speak up a little?

PISTORIUS: I beg your pardon. I hadn't made any plans on the 14th. I had a dentist appointment on the 14th in the morning. Reeva wasn't going to stay at my house. Our plans were that I meet her in Johannesburg at this jewelry store that I got the bracelet from.

And the bracelet had a couple of charms on it. There were two bracelets I bought her. So I said to her, we both kind of made a thing about not making a big thing out of Valentine's Day. And we were just going to have dinner. I think for us that was a nice evening is just being alone and being at home, making dinner.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Did she buy something? Reeva buy you something for Valentine's Day?

PISTORIUS: I got home on the evening -- early evening on the 13th and there was a wrapped present on the kitchen counter with a card that said, Ozzie (ph), and when I walked in the kitchen I acted as if I was going to open it, white wrapping paper, and Reeva told me I would like you to open it the next day. So I didn't open it.

On 8th of August on Reeva's birthday I opened her Valentine's Gift to me and it was a photo frame that she got made, four photos of her and I. And the card that she wrote --

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Mr. Pistorius, we're turning now, to you in bed now, you're falling asleep. You are now without your prosthetics. Your prosthetic leg, your prosthesis?

PISTORIUS: That is correct, my lady.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Did you wear any clothes?

PISTORIUS: I had a -- I had a pair of men's training shorts on, basketball shorts on, and I had a gray vest. When I took off my prosthetic legs to climb into bed, I had taken my vest off and placed them on my prosthetic legs. I was just wearing a pair of shorts.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: My lady, I ask for a very short adjournment just for a process to take place, to show to the court what the position is without his prosthetic leg. Five minutes, my lady. Just to get proper clothing on.

JUDGE: Five minutes.


JUDGE: The court is adjourned.

CHRIS CUOMO, CNN ANCHOR: We're going to take a break here right now. Fairly interesting. Defense counsel suggested a short adjournment to the judge because they wanted to change clothe. I think he meant Oscar Pistorius, so they could demonstrate how he was dressed and positioned the night the shooting occurred.

KATE BOLDUAN, CNN ANCHOR: It speaks to -- he said he had taken off his prosthetic leg when he had gotten into bed. That kind of goes to when he said he was scared because he was without his prosthetic legs when we woke up thinking someone was coming into their house.

CUOMO: Again, not something you would usually see in a U.S. trial. Looks like we're about to do that in this one. When they are doing that, we'll come back and take it. Right now, let's take a quick break on NEW DAY. When we come back, how hard is it to find a black box pinger on the ocean floor, especially in the battery has died and you're not hearing it? We have one right here and we're going to show you how it works.


BOLDUAN: Welcome back to NEW DAY.

Search teams are still unable to relocate pinger sounds in the hunt for Flight 370. But sophisticated listening devices are the water with crews hoping that the batteries in the plane's black boxes have not been drained quite yet. This morning, the search zone is more focused, narrowing to some 30,000 square miles. But is that enough?

Joining us now from Boston is CNN analyst David Gallo. He was a leader in the search for Air France Flight 447 and is currently director of special projects at Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution.

David, it's great to see you again.


BOLDUAN: Of course. I want -- we need to lean heavily on your expertise this morning. I want to start with what we know and a little bit about what we don't know and get your take on it. We know that a ping was detected that they kept the -- they detected it for over two hours but since then, when they've gone back, they have not been able to reconnect. Is that a bad sign in your experience?

GALLO: No, given -- well, this whole thing for the past month, this whole mystery, we've had ups and downs and we go from optimistic to cautiously optimistic. I guess that's what we are now. I don't take it as bad sign, it's a normal progression. It's unfortunate, but I think we've gotten used to dealing with things like this.

BOLDUAN: I guess so. And they have narrowed the search area. The last time you and I spoke, that was probably the most important thing that needed to happen, was that they narrowed this down. It's now at some 30,000 square miles, which is about a third of what they were previously searching.

But is that enough? I assume the answer is no.

GALLO: The answer is no. Well, you know, on Air France, we had 5,000 square miles so this is still six times that. It's immense when you look at it. It would take years for one vehicle to cover that much terrain. So, we still have some narrowing to do.

BOLDUAN: How do you go about doing that? Let's just assume that we do not pick up a ping again. Can you narrow it down any further if we do not reconnect with the pings?

GALLO: Yes, I think, Kate, I would focus on that they were within a few miles at that one location, which is the north side of a feature called the Wallaby Plateau. I think that's a great place to start in an underwater map. They should work outwards instead of worrying about how big that area can be. Let's start with that area and work outwards.

BOLDUAN: What do you make of the discrepancy and frequency? The numbers keep getting all scrambled up in my head. But it was 37.5 and it's 33.3 or something along those lines.

So, the frequency it was supposed to be from the manufacturer, what they were picking up yesterday, not the same thing. Does that trouble you or does that seem like something in the realm of possibility given the conditions down there?

GALLO: It did trouble me, but CNN analyst David Soucie has convinced me that that's a normal drift as batteries wear down and time goes on. We could drift into those different frequencies. So, you know, it's almost like riding down the road and with the old radios trying to tune in to certain radio station and you have it loud and clear, and next thing you know you've got to do more fiddling with that knob to bring it back in again.

So, it's something like that to me. I was discouraged at first but now I recognize it's within the realm of normalcy for this.

BOLDUAN: Yes. Well, it continues to be unusual and the search is unprecedented.

David Gallo, it's great to see you. Thank you so much. We'll talk with you very soon, David.

GALLO: You're welcome, Kate.

CUOMO: All right. Kate, let's return to Pretoria.

Oscar Pistorius on the stand right now, the only man who knows what really happened the night Reeva Steenkamp was shot and killed. He is telling his story. There was a short adjournment so that clothes could be changed.

There's some type of demonstration being planned. We're waiting for that. They're now back in court. There's defense counsel. Let's see what happens.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: This will be the second part of this evidence as well. I also, for the second part, if he's able to carry (ph), but after the adjournment, after, they may remain (ph) in present clothing, of course, for the demonstration.


CUOMO: Now, just to paint the scene a little bit for you here. If you will remember, the actual door from Oscar Pistorius' bathroom has been entered into evidence is in the courtroom. We believe Oscar Pistorius is standing next to it to demonstrate for the judge and the two special jurors, how he was positioned that night.

BOLDUAN: We are not going to see Oscar Pistorius. That is his choice in South African law. He has chosen to not be shown on camera. We are hearing his voice, but you're not going to see what is probably the crux of this testimony right now.

CUOMO: So he's taken his legs off to show how he was that night. He has put on trainer shorts, gym shorts, and is supposedly positioned next to the door to show the angle and his intention. Let's listen in.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: And you go from there. Did you wake up again, later on?

PISTORIUS: I woke up in the early hours of the 14th of February. It was extremely warm in my room and I sat up in bed. I noticed that the fans were still running and that the door was still open. Although the lights had been switched off and Reeva was -- Reeva was still awake or she was obviously not sleeping. She rolled over to me and said, can't you sleep, my Bubba? I said, no, I can't. I got back to my side of the bed. I walked around the bed, foot of the bed. I was holding on to the foot of the bed with my left hand. I got to the fans, where the fans were.

I took those small fan and I placed it pretty much just inside the room and I took the bigger tripod fan and I took it by the part just underneath the fan and I placed it in the bedroom. The fans were still running, still running at the time, and I then proceed to close the sliding doors and lock them. I then drew the curtains.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: And the blinds?

PISTORIUS: I don't remember. I just remember closing -- I just grabbed and closed. It was very dark at the time. I probably closed both of them but I remember closing -- closing the curtains. I came into the room at this point. The only bit of light in the room was the LED light on the amplifier, where the TV cabinet was a little blue LED light. And I could see a pair of jeans that were on the floor, Reeva's jeans.

I picked the jeans up and was going to cover -- just place them over the amplifier, over the lights. At this point, I heard a window open in the bathroom. Sounded like the window sliding open and then I could hear the window hit the frame as if it had slipped to a point where it can't slide anymore.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Is the wood frame window?

PISTORIUS: All of the frames in my house are wooden frames.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: That is the window referred to the in the evidence of the photographer?

PISTORIUS: That is correct, my lady.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: What did you think at the time, Mr. Pistorius?

PISTORIUS: My lady, that's the moment that everything changed. I thought that there was a burglar gaining entrance in my home. I was -- I was on the side of the room where you first had to cross the passage, which leads to the -- which leads to the bathroom. I think initially you just froze. I didn't know what to do. I heard this noise and took it as somebody climbing into the bathroom. There's no door between the bathroom and my room.

It's all one -- there's a passageway but there's no door. There's a toilet door, but there's no area between me and the bathroom. It's one room. I literally thought, somebody -- if they were at the window where the entrance passage of the passageway could be three or four meters, they could be there at any moment.

And the first thing that ran through my mind is that I needed to arm myself, that I needed to protect Reeva and I, that I need to get my gun. And then I was looking down the passage, scared that the person was going to come out. I rushed as quickly as I could. I couldn't see anything in the room.

I ran with it up in front of me. At times touching the floor and then when I got to my bed I led my way along the side of my bed and I grabbed my -- my firearm from underneath the bed and it had a canvas holster on it. I immediately took it out of the holster.

At that point I just wanted to put myself between -- get back to where the passage was so I could put myself between the person that had gained access to my house and Reeva. When I got just before the passage wall I remember slowing down because I was scared that at that point this person had time to get from -- that I left -- where I got my firearm could have possibly already been in the passage, passage.

So I slowed down and I had my firearm extended in front of me just as I -- just as I left my bed, I was for Reeva to get down and phone police. As I entered where the passage is, where the closet is to the -- where I entered the passage where the closet is to the -- to the bathroom, it was at that point that I was just overcome with fear and I started screaming and shots for them just to get out of my house.

I shouted to Reeva to get on the floor. I shouted for her to phone the police. I screamed at the people to get out. So I made my way down the passage, constantly aware that the threat to these people or persons could come at me at any time. I didn't have my legs on.

Just before I got to the wall of the -- where the tiles start in the bathroom I stopped shooting because I was worried if the person knew where I was, I put my head around the corner, that I could get shot. And just before I got to the -- just before I got to the passage of the bathroom I heard a door slam, which could have only been the toilet bowl.

I couldn't see into the bathroom at this point, but I could hear the door slam. And for me confirm that there was a person or people inside the toilet -- or inside the bathroom at that time.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Mr. Pistorius, if I may stop you. I want to talk about the passage, 173.

CUOMO: If you're just joining us on NEW DAY right now, this is the Oscar Pistorius trial. You are looking at defense counsel in the room, Reeva Steenkamp's family as well as Oscar Pistorius' sister and we believe his mother. Everyone is emotional as Oscar Pistorius is recounting the events of the night he killed Reeva Steenkamp.

So far there was a quick adjournment so that Oscar Pistorius could change clothes. He took off his prosthetic legs. He is next to the bathroom door. You cannot see it because he has chosen to have sound played, but not picture of his testimony. So far, he has painted the picture of his fear that night that he went to sleep, he heard a window close.

And that is what he says changed everything. He thought it was a burglar. He froze. Now you're seeing in front of you the diagram, the counsel has stopped testimony to show the diagram of how the room is set up. You're looking at the hallway between the bed and the bathroom.

What this graphic is showing you is where the casings were found to coordinate the story Oscar is telling if highlights before we return to testimony is that he says he whispered for Reeva Steenkamp to get down before he did anything.

That he shouted for the intruder to get out. That he shouted for Reeva Steenkamp to call police. These are all going to be critical elements for him and certainly for prosecution. Let's listen back in.

BOLDUAN: Looks like they're still setting up in the courtroom. Just to recap a little bit. What you're seeing kind of in the lower left part of your screen, that's Reeva Steenkamp's parents. Her mother has really remained stone faced throughout the time that Oscar Pistorius has been on the stand.

It's been really notable as he has been very emotional. As you can see when he's recounting these final moments that she's put her head down, either she doesn't want to see it or she can't handle seeing and hearing it recounted. This all began, this trial began on March 3rd.

And this is the key moment that everyone has been waiting for. Both the defense and prosecution waiting to hear from Oscar Pistorius himself go detail by detail, almost in painstaking detail to recount from his perspective what happened that night.

And they are at the key moment as they're now continuing to set up and change things in the room. They're at that key moment when he said he heard a door slam and that confirmed for him that someone was in the bathroom.

It sounds like they're going to take a lunch adjournment right now, which has been happening really daily, obviously, day by day as we've been following this. You can really see Oscar Pistorius. You hear during this time as he's recounting it, Chris, that he was emotion.

We saw his family in the courtroom wiping away tears. But really can't be over stated how important this moment is not only as he's trying to save his own life, but also for the prosecution because they need to hear from his perspective, his perspective on what happened that night is really the crux of this case.

CUOMO: He is the only one who really know, right? Part of his delay is a problem because defense counsel is having trouble getting their visuals in place.