Oscar Pistorius' Character Questioned Over Gun in Restaurant Incident

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Wednesday, 05 Mar 2014 12:22 PM

By Clyde Hughes

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A witness in the Oscar Pistorius murder trial testified Wednesday that the Olympic runner asked a friend to take the blame after a pistol was accidentally fired in a Johannesburg restaurant weeks before the double-amputee fatally shot his girlfriend.

Kevin Lerena testified that in January 2013, Pistorius asked his friend Darren Fresco to take responsibility after the gun was accidentally fired, according to The Associated Press. Lerena said in court they were all sitting at a table when Fresco passed his gun to Pistorius under the table, warning the runner there was one bullet in the chamber. 

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The shot was fired near his foot, Lerena told the court.

"Just say it was you. I don't want any tension around me," Lerena recalled Pistorius telling Fresco as restaurant management approached them. "There's too much media hype around me."

Pistorius' attorney Barry Roux said that the restaurant was noisy and questioned whether his client heard Fresco tell him that there was a bullet in the chamber. However, Lerena's testimony was not refuted. 

Lerena testified that Pistorius apologized to his table guests for the gunshot and asked if anyone was hurt before imploring Fresco to say he fired the weapon, CNN reported. 

"'Please take the blame for me,'" Lerena quoted Pistorius telling Fresco. "When the restaurant owners came up, Darren took the blame."

Pistorius, 27, is on trial for Valentine's Day 2013 death of his girlfriend, model Reeva Steenkamp, whom he claims he shot by accident because he thought she was an intruder.

Pistorius, who was born without fibula bones because of a congenital defect and had his legs amputated when he was 11 months old, was admired internationally when he signed on to compete against able-bodied runners in the 2012 London Olympics.

Pistorius earned the name "Blade Runner" for his carbon-fiber blade prostheses. He had won numerous medals during the Paralympic Games.

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