PRETORIA, South Africa March 25, 2014— -- The murder prosecution of Oscar Pistorius rested today after more than three weeks of testimony, clearing the way for the Blade Runner to eventually take the stand.
"My Lady, learned Assessors, this is the State's case," prosecutor Gerrie Nel announced to the judge, ending the case against Pistorius.
The prosecution called 21 out of a possible 107 witnesses on the state's witness list, but Nel decided he had brought enough evidence before the High Court in Pretoria to convict Pistorius of murdering his model girlfriend Reeva Steenkamp.
Pistorius, 27, shot Steenkamp, 29, before dawn on Valentine's Day 2013 after what the prosecution claims was a loud argument. Pistorius claims that he shot her through a locked bathroom door because he mistook her for an intruder. He could face at least 25 years in prison if convicted. He also faces three other firearms related charges.
Pistorius' legal team has said early on in the trial that he would take the stand and has indicated he could also be their lead-off witness, although that is not clear.
Defense lawyer Barry Roux asked the court for an adjournment until Friday to allow him time to consult with state witnesses not called by the prosecution. Those witnesses are now free to testify for the defense and they include Pistorius' siblings, Aimee and Carl who were amongst the first people on the scene after the shooting as well as Johan Stander, the security manager of the Silver Woods estate where Pistorius lived at the time of the shooting. Stander and his daughter Carice were the first people inside the house after the incident.
Some of the most emotional testimony on the final day of prosecution came from text messages taken from the phones of Pistorius and Steenkamp. Pistorius listened with tears running down his cheeks as he heard loving messages from Steenkamp read out in court. His actions were in sharp contrast to the many occasions during the trial that Pistorius stuck his fingers in his ears or covered his ears with his hands to avoid hearing the grisly details of Steenkamp's death.
Leaving court today Pistorius said to the Associated Press, "It's a tough time. We've got a lot of stuff ahead of us."
Prosecutors called police Capt. Francois Moller to the stand Monday to illustrate the couple's relationship was marked by angry exchanges with Steenkamp writing that she was "scared" of Pistorius, going so far at one point to write that she was "scared out of my mind" by his temper sometimes.
But under cross examination today by defense lawyer Barry Roux, Moller read out message after message of tender, loving, supporting exchanges between Pistorius and Steenkamp.
On Feb. 11, three days before she was shot, Steenkamp wrote: "I'm always on your side but mostly pro us and the health of our relationship."
Another message from her ended "I have said a small prayer for both of us."
"Kiss, kiss, kiss," Roux added, reading from a written copy of the messages.
Moller testified today that affectionate messages made up at least 90 percent of the exchanges as Roux tried to create a different picture from that created when messages read out in court Monday portrayed an possessive and critical Pistorius who threw temper tantrums.
Roux also showed store surveillance video of the couple kissing and behaving in a playful manner in a convenience store just days before the shooting.