Oscar Pistorius read in court today a heartbreaking Valentine's Day card that Reeva Steenkamp left behind on the day she was shot to death by Pistorius, a card that Pistorius' defense hoped would counter some of the effects of five grueling days of cross examination.
"Roses are red, violets are blue, I think today is a good day to tell you that I love you," the message reads.
Pistorius' defense lawyer Barry Roux asked him to read the card aloud in an apparent attempt to demonstrate the affection between the couple. Prosecutor Gerrie Nel has previously told the court that none of the text messages Steenkamp sent Pistorius ever included the phrase "I love you."
Pistorius, 27, killed his girlfriend before dawn on Valentine's Day 2013 when he fired through a locked bathroom door. He is charged with murder in Steenkamp’s death. If convicted, he could face 25 years to life in prison. Pistorius says he mistook Steenkamp for an intruder.
The valentine was read in court after Nel wrapped up a blistering cross examination that often reduced Pistorius to sobs, emotional outbursts that Nel suggested were aimed at deflecting questions he struggled to answer.
In a final volley of accusations Nel told Pistorius that he intentionally killed Steenkamp.
“She was locked into the bathroom, and you armed yourself with the sole purpose of shooting and killing her … and that’s what you did,” Nel said. “Afterwards, indeed, you were overcome by what you’d done, that is true. Only because you intentioned to kill her. You realized that.”
When Pistorius denied that was true, Nel shot back, “You fired at Reeva.”
Crying, Pistorius answered, "I did not fire at Reeva.”
Earlier, Nel showed the court photos of Pistorius' bedroom. He pointed out that Steenkamp's belongings, including her undergarments, were neatly packed in her overnight bag and her flip-flops were neatly laid out side-by-side. Her jeans, however, were found lying crumpled on the floor. Nel argued that they were on the floor because she wanted to leave, that she had attempted to put them back on at some point. Pistorius denied that she tried to leave.
The defense also called a former cop and a forensic expert Roger Dixon who told the court that he tested Pistorius' bedroom on a moonless night and found that with the lights out and the balcony curtains drawn, the room was almost completely dark.
"With your back to the light I couldn't see into the darker areas of the room," Dixon said, apparently supporting Pistorius' testimony that he could not see Steenkamp leave the bed to go to the bathroom, and so didn't know it was her in the toilet cubicle.
The defense also played recordings in court from noise tests they conducted at a shooting range on a replica door being hit with a bat and being shot at. The sounds were similar. Pistorius' team was attempting to reinforce its argument that neighbors who say Steenkamp screamed before the gunshots confused the gunshots with the sounds of Pistorius hitting the door with a cricket bat, and were actually hearing Pistorius scream as he tried to break the door down to help Steenkamp.
During today’s proceedings, the prosecution asked for a two week break in the trial, a request the defense supports. Judge Thokozile Masipa will consider the option and announce a decision Wednesday.
The Associated Press contributed to this report