Statement Analysis®

Oscar Pistorius's Testimony

In March 2014, Oscar Pistorius went on trial in a South African courtroom for the murder of his girlfriend Reeva Steenkamp. Pistorius took the stand on April 7 and testified in his own defense. I have not been able to find a complete transcript of his testimony. Here are some excerpts of Pistorius describing what happened the night he shot Reeva Steenkamp.

Pistorius testified that in the middle of the night he heard his bathroom window sliding open. He got his 9mm from underneath his bed and moved towards the bathroom.

"I got to the entrance of the bathroom, at the end of the passage, where I stopped screaming. At this point, I was certain that an intruder or intruders were there in my bathroom.

A more natural way to say this would be, "At this point I believed that an intruder..." If he used the word "believed," Pistorius would be saying that based on the evidence before him he concluded that someone was in the bathroom. By using the word "certain," it means he thought about other possibilities. After considering the possibilities, he then came to the conclusion that an intruder was in his bathroom. We would want to know what other things he was considering. As it turned out there was no intruder.

"I had my pistol in my right hand and I peered in."

Pistorius called his 9mm a "pistol." We will see if his language remains consistent.

"There was no light in the bathroom. As I slowly peered into the bathroom, I could see that the window was open indeed."

The shortest sentence is the best sentence. The word "indeed" is not needed. He may have added this word to bolster his claim that minutes earlier he heard the bathroom window sliding open.

"At this point I started screaming again for Reeva to phone the police...wasn't sure where to point my firearm. I had it pointed at the toilet but my eyes were going between the window and the toilet."

At this point, SteenKamp is in the toilet behind a locked door. If she was using the bathroom or even hiding from an intruder, why did she not respond to Pistorius's scream to call the police? There is a chance she wanted to keep quiet and hide from the intruder.

When the word "phone" appears in a statement it often ties the person to the crime scene. If you witnessed a crime, you may state in your police interview that you called 911 on your "cell phone." The problem is the use of the word "phone" sometimes ties a person to the crime scene in a not so innocent way.

Earlier Pistorius called his 9mm a "pistol." Now he refers to it as a "firearm." There are no synonyms in Statement Analysis. Every word means something different. Truthful people usually use the same language. If they view a 9mm as being a "pistol," they will always call it a "pistol." They will not call it a "firearm" because to them it is a "pistol." A change in language means a change in reality. Something has happened which caused the person to change their language. For example, when a person pulls the trigger he may call it a "weapon." This change is justifiable because the word "weapon" to this person probably means he is discharging the firearm. The word "pistol" may mean he is not shooting the firearm. As I read Pistorius's statement I do not see a justifiable reason for changing the language from "pistol" to "firearm." Therefore, it indicates he is being deceptive.

"I just stayed where I was and I kept on screaming."

The word "just" is often used to minimize things. When people use the word "just" to minimize their actions, it is an indication they did more than they are telling us. Saying, "I stayed where I was" is a better statement.

"Then I heard a noise from inside the toilet, what I perceived to be somebody coming out of the toilet. Before I knew it, I fired four shots at the door."

The word "then" can mean "immediately" which is how people usually want to use it. This word can also mean "soon thereafter" which is how people usually use it. Using the latter definition means the person has withheld some information. We see something similar with the phrase "before I knew it." We do not know how much time has passed by before Pistorius fired four shots.

"My ears were ringing; I couldn't hear anything, so I kept on shouting for Reeva to phone the police. I was so scared to retreat because I wasn't sure if there was somebody on the ladder. I wasn't sure there was somebody in the toilet.

The word "so" is not needed. The use of this word indicates Pistorius is explaining his actions rather than simply telling us what he did. It shows this part of his statement is sensitive to him.

There are two types of emotions: short-term and long-term. Short-term emotions occur at the peak of the incident and are brief. Being surprised is a short-term emotion. Long-term emotions occur after the incident is over and have a longer effect. Being in shock is a long-term emotion. Pistorius said he was "so scared." Being scared could be a brief emotion but being "so scared" appears to be more of a long-term emotion. Therefore, his emotion of being "so scared" appears to be out-of-place. Pistorius has placed them at the peak of the incident where he thinks they should be. The reality is incidents such as this one are usually so overwhelming the long-term emotions are usually suppressed. Once the incident is over they begin to surface.

After firing four shots through the toilet door, Pistorius said he returned to his bed looking for Steenkamp but she was not there.

"At that point the first thing I thought was maybe she got down onto the floor like I told her to, maybe she was just scared...I can't remember what I said but I was trying to talk out to her."

In an open statement such as this, a person should only be telling us what happened. He should not be telling us what he does not remember. When the phrase, "I don't remember" appears in an open statement, it is an indication of deception. Essentially, the person is telling us he remembers that he does not remember! Also, saying "I don't remember" is better than saying, "I can't remember."

The word "trying" means he attempted but failed. Was he not able to call out to her because she was not on the floor or because he did not call out to her?

"It was upon that time, my Lady, that it first dawned upon me that it could be Reeva that was in the bathroom or in the toilet."

Saying that it "dawned" upon him that he may have shot his girlfriend is soft tone language. We would expect a person to have a more dreadful feeling when they realized they may have shot someone they loved.

"I run straight back to the bathroom door, I must have placed my firearm on the carpet in the bathroom. The light was on at that stage, I don't remember switching it on but it was on when I kicked the door. I run straight up to the door and I started hitting it hard. I think I hit it three times. "

Twice he used the word "run" which is in the present tense. When a person is recalling a story from memory it will be very easy for him to use past tense language. The use of present tense language is an indication he may be making up that portion of his statement.

The phrase "I must have" means he is not certain what he did with the firearm.

Again, we have Pistorius using the phrase "I don't remember" which indicates he may be withholding information.

The word "think" means he is not certain how many times he hit the door. We see further evidence of this with his use of the number "three." When people are uncertain of a number they will often use the number "three." It should also be noted that when deceptive people make up a number they will frequently use the number "three."


We must remember that this is not a complete transcript of Pistorius's testimony. We also do not know what specific questions he was asked. There is always a chance Pistorius adopted some of the prosecutor's language. However, there are numerous signs that Pistorius's entire statement is not coming from memory. Therefore, we have to question if he is telling the truth about what happened the night Reeva Steenkamp died.


On September 12, 2014, Pistorius was found guilty of culpable homicide. On October 21, 2014, he was sentenced to five years in prison.


In November 2014, prosecutors appealed the verdict. In December 2015, the Appellate Court overturned the culpable homicide verdict and convicted him of murder. In July 2016, Pistorius was sentenced to six years imprisonment for murdering Reeva Steenkamp.

Return to page one

Return to the Famous Cases page