TODAY   |  March 11, 2014

Pistorius trial spotlights Steenkamp’s final moments

Details of Reeva Steenkamp’s final hours and moments were the focus at the murder trial of athlete Oscar Pistorius. NBC national investigative correspondent Jeff Rossen reports.

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This content comes from Closed Captioning that was broadcast along with this program.

>>> let's begin this half hour, though, with more drama at the oscar pistorius murder trial. nbc's jeff rossen is in pretoria once again for us. jeff, good morning to you.

>> reporter: hey, matt, good morning to you. already afternoon here in pretor pretoria , south africa . we're well into a new day of twists and turns in this trial. last we saw oscar pistorius , he was inconsolable. you have seen the photos. but this morning, he is much more composed, listening intently as forensics take center stage . prosecutors say reeva steenkamp's final moments were terrifying. the pathologist who performed her autopsy back on the stand today.

>> pertaining to some of the injuries, and wounds which may be described have the potential to compromise the dignity of the deceased.

>> reporter: so the judge cut off the live video feed. in court, oscar was gagging and crying, violently ill as he listened. here's oscar 's version. he and reeva went to sleep that night at 10:00 p.m . around 3:00 a.m ., he heard what he believed was an intruder hiding in the bathroom, grabbed his gun and fired four times. he says reeva must have gone to the bathroom when he wasn't looking. but the pathologist testified, reeva's bladder was nearly empty, indicating she wouldn't need to go to the bathroom. after autopsy indicates she ate food around 1:00 a.m ., long after oscar says they went to bed. how damaging is this to oscar 's defense?

>> the pathologist is supporting forensic science , it's evidence, it supports the prosecution's version. i think it's damaging to oscar 's version of the story.

>> reporter: oscar 's defense is that he thought there was an intruder inside his bathroom. something to keep in mind here, home break-ins are a huge problem in south africa . this is oscar 's complex behind me. gated ghunt. and a huge, concrete wall and on top, that's an electric fence . from middle class communities to the richest of the rich, when you drive around pretoria , security features like this are common. and crime is skyrocketing here. according to police, in 2012 and '13, there were more than 16,000 murders in south africa . that's an average of 45 murders every day. the murder rate , six times higher than the u.s. and listen to this. home burglaries are up sharply too. 262,000 break-ins in 2012 and '13. that's 720 homes every day. which is why oscar 's long-time friends are sticking by his side.

>> the oscar i know and the oscar that the track knows is not the oscar that's been described in court. it is not.

>> reporter: not reckless?

>> no.

>> reporter: not a temper?

>> definitely not more than anybody else around here.

>> reporter: on the stand right now, another one of oscar 's friends who was there when oscar allegedly shot a gun out of a car sun roof and also inside a restaurant just weeks before shooting reeva. prosecutors still hammering away this morning at oscar 's character. and matt, their narrative that he is reckless with guns.

>> jeff rossen covering the trial in pretoria for us this morning. jeff, thanks so much.