Double amputee and Olympic sprinter Oscar Pistorius fired a gun in a restaurant last year but convinced someone else to take the blame, a friend testified at Pistorius’ murder trial Wednesday in Pretoria, South Africa.
Pistorius is accused of fatally shooting his girlfriend, Reeva Steenkamp, one month after the restaurant incident.
Professional boxer Kevin Lerena testified that he, Pistorius, British sprinter Martyn Rooney and Darren Fresco were lunching at Tasha’s restaurant in Johannesburg when the bullet was fired, grazing Lerena’s toe and going into the floor, the South African Times Live reported.
“I don’t know for what reason, but a gun was passed under the table,” Lerena testified.
He said that Pistorius apologized profusely after the gun went off in his hand, then asked Fresco to take responsibility.
“Please Darren, just say it was you, I don’t want any tension around me,” Lerena quoted Pistorius as saying. “Mr. Fresco said when he spoke to the restaurant owners that the gun caught on his pants. He did take the rap.”
Lerena said he ignored the incident until the Valentine’s Day shooting of Steenkamp, which could see Pistorius jailed for life.
“I never spoke about it again,” Lerena said. “On the 16th I had over 100 phone calls from the media.”
Pistorius insists he accidentally shot Steenkamp, 29. Prosecutors allege he intentionally shot her.
Earlier Wednesday, chief defense lawyer Barry Roux sought to undermine the prosecution testimony of a couple who said they heard a woman’s screams and gunfire the night that Pistorius killed Steenkamp. Telephone records will show that the banging sounds the neighbors heard were not gunshots but a distressed Pistorius breaking down the toilet cubicle door with a cricket bat after realizing he had shot Steenkamp when she was in the toilet, thinking it was an intruder, Roux asserted.
The state maintained there was a loud argument on the night he shot Steenkamp through a door in his bathroom and screams and shouts before a gun was fired. Roux says the screams were Pistorius calling for help after the accidental killing.
Pistorius, 27, was a globally admired athlete whose career peaked when he ran in the 2012 Olympics. He was born without fibula bones because of a congenital defect and his legs were amputated when he was 11 months old. He has run on carbon-fiber blades and is a multiple Paralympic medalist. He also competed at the London Olympics but didn’t win a medal.
Contributing: Associated Press