TODAY   |  April 15, 2014

Oscar Pistorius on stand: ‘I’m getting confused’

The athlete recounted his attempt to break down his bathroom door as the prosecution in his murder trial continued to try to poke holes in his story. NBC national investigative correspondent Jeff Rossen reports from South Africa.

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

>> to begin this half-hour with oscar pistorius on the stand in his murder trial for a final day. today national investigative correspondent jeff rossen is in pretoria with the latest. jeff, good morning.

>> reporter: hey, savannah, good morning to you. inside the courtroom, i actually got the chance to speak with oscar pistorius briefly. he spoke so low, i could actually barely hear him, just thanking me basically for saying hi. in person, up close, his eyes are really puffy from crying. he looks exhausted and absolutely broken. no rest today for him either. that prosecutor nicknamed the pit bull is on the attack again, wrapping up his cross-examination in dramatic fashion. within minutes today, the prosecutor caught oscar pistorius in yet another contradiction.

>> i'm sorry, my lady, i'm getting confused.

>> reporter: all along, pistorius said he shot and killed his girlfriend reeva steenkamp by accident. he heard the bathroom door opening and thought an intruder was about to attack him. but today he testified the noise he heard wasn't the door, it was just the magazine rack inside.

>> why would you fire if the magazine rack moved? because it has nothing to do with a door.

>> i didn't have time to interpret it, my lady. i thought it was the door opening.

>> reporter: the prosecution says that doesn't make sense. their theory, reeva was inside the bathroom dressed and with her phone, fearing pistorius during an argument. after he shot her, the blade runner says he panicked.

>> i was screaming, i was screaming reeva, reeva! and i was crying. i was crying out the more desperate i got that i couldn't get into the toilet. i was crying out and then i ran to get the cricket bat and then i ran back to the toilet.

>> you weren't screaming at reeva, because she was hiding in a toilet, were you?

>> no, my lady.

>> reporter: as you watch the testimony, just want to give you some perspective. you can't tell from the courtroom cameras, but the prosecutor stands here. look how close he is to oscar pistorius in the witness box right here. literally arm's length. one other interesting note from here, pistorius never makes direct eye contact with the prosecutor, even when he's answering his questions. he just looks straight up, over there at the judge.

>> who should we blame for the fact that you shot her?

>> i don't know, my lady, i was scared.

>> should we blame reeva?

>> no, my lady.

>> you must be blaming somebody for this?

>> i don't, my lady. i believed there was a threat.

>> reporter: and with that, the prosecutor sat down. his grueling five-day cross-examination over. pistorius 's lawyer now trying to repair any damage on redirect.

>> did you consciously pull the trigger or not?

>> my lady, i didn't think about pulling the trigger. as soon as i heard the noise, before i could think i pulled the trigger, my lady.

>> reporter: at the heart of the case, pistorius 's relationship with reeva. he said they were in love, reading to the court her valentine's day card to him.

>> it says on the front of the card, roses are red , violets are blue , and then on the inside, she wrote the date on the left, and then on the right she says, i think today is a good day to tell you that -- and then it says i love you.

>> reporter: so here's what's next. the defense now has the case and will call all of its experts. in fact, a forensic expert is on the stand right now. there's something else i want to show you. just moments ago, our first look at pistorius since coming off the stand. at one point, he actually appeared to be sleeping in the courtroom, eyes completely closed. a minute later, the camera cuts back, his eyes are open, but he is looking absolutely spent. in all, we can expect 14 to 17 more witnesses before this case is closed. so we still have a couple weeks left to go here.

>> all right, jeff rossen at the courthouse, thank you very