Oscar Pistorius' grueling cross-examination wraps up

Track star Oscar Pistorius (C) arrives ahead of his murder trial at North Gauteng High Court in Pretoria, South Africa, April 15, 2014. REUTERS

PRETORIA, South Africa -- The chief prosecutor in the murder trial of Oscar Pistorius has ended his cross-examination after challenging the athlete for five days of testimony about how he killed girlfriend Reeva Steenkamp last year.

Prosecutor Gerrie Nel said he had no further questions late Tuesday morning after presenting his case that Pistorius is lying in his account of mistakenly shooting Steenkamp, and that the double-amputee runner killed her intentionally after an argument.

Pistorius' own defense lawyer, Barry Roux, spent only minutes cross-examining his client, asking Pistorius to describe his emotions as he held a gun pointed at the closed toilet cubicle door before firing the shots that killed his girlfriend.

Pistorius replied that he was riddled with "terror" and feared for his life. He was then dismissed from the witness box and allowed to return to his seat in the courtroom.

Pistorius shot Steenkamp through the door in his home before dawn on Feb. 14, 2013. The athlete says that he thought she was an intruder about to come out o f the toilet to attack him.

Pistorius faces 25 years to life in prison if convicted of premeditated murder.

Over the past week, Pistorius came under intense pressure from Nel, who said the double-amputee runner was lying in the witness box.

Pistorius has struggled to explain alleged inconsistencies during his testimony, sometimes breaking into sobs.

On Tuesday, Nel argued that alleged discrepancies in Pistorius' bail statement in February 2013, shortly after the shooting, and his current testimony show that the athlete is again "tailoring" his account to try to create a more convincing story.

The prosecutor noted that last year, Pistorius said he opened fire out of fear after hearing a "movement" in the toilet cubicle -- Nel said the choice of word suggested the athlete had heard a person behind the closed toilet door.

Since the bail statement, Pistorius has said he fired after hearing a "wood abrasion" sound that he interpreted as a possible intruder opening the toilet door to attack him.

Nel's asked the judge for a break in the trial that would begin later this week and end on May 5, due to other work commitments and "personal arrangements" made by prosecution and defense lawyers in the upcoming Easter holiday period.

Roux agreed with Nel's request. Judge Thokozile Masipa said she would respond to the request on Wednesday.

Another witness was expected to take the stand later Tuesday.

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