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Pistorius trial: Steenkamp sent text messages expressing her fears

JOHANNESBURG, South Africa -- Model and lawyer Reeva Steenkamp sent a cellphone message to her boyfriend, South African Olympic athlete Oscar Pistorius, weeks before he fatally shot her saying that his behavior sometimes scared her.

Steenkamp’s direct words were heard in Pretoria’s high court for the first time Monday as police cellphone expert Francois Moller read out iPhone messages and chats between the couple that the policeman extracted from their phones. He said 90% of the messages were loving. But she sounded deeply unhappy in others that he read out.

“I’m scared of you sometimes of how you snap at me and how you will act to me,” she wrote to Pistorius on Jan. 27, 2013.

The picture Steenkamp painted in some messages to him was of a possessive, jealous man who threw tantrums, criticized her in public and accused her of flirting with other men. She began dating him in November 2012.

Pistorius shot her dead through the door of the toilet, off his bathroom, in the early hours of Valentine’s Day last year. He has pleaded not guilty to murder, claiming he mistook her for a burglar when he fired four expanding bullets through the door.

At times, she said in the cellphone message, his manner toward her was “nasty.” She said in the Jan. 27 message that she had fallen in love with him and had been planning to tell him that weekend.

“I do everything to make you happy and to not say anything to rock the boat with you. You do everything to throw tantrums in front of people,” she wrote.

She detailed him picking on her “incessantly” and snapping at her. He could be “cold and offish.”

“I get snapped at and told my accent and voices are annoying. I touch your neck to show you I care. You tell me to stop. Stop chewing gum, do this, don’t do that,” she said in the message.

Her Jan. 27 message also told him he ruined an evening out to celebrate her best friend’s engagement when he accused her of “hitting on” the husband of one of her friends, “and I’m sorry that you think that little of me.

“I wasn’t flirting with anyone today. I just feel sick that u suggested that and made that scene at the table and made us leave early.”

The message said she wanted to make him happy but at times she despaired of it.

“I just want to love and be loved. Be happy and make someone SO happy. Maybe we can’t do that for each other. Cos right now I know u aren’t happy and I am certainly very unhappy and sad,” she wrote.

“I can’t be attacked for dating you and attacked by you,” she said in another message on Feb. 8, less than a week before the shooting. She added that he was “the one person who I deserve protection from.”

Replying to her Jan. 27 message, Pistorius wrote saying he wanted to talk to her and “sort this out,” admitting that being tired and sick wasn’t an excuse.

“I’m sorry for the things I say without thinking and for taking offence to some of your actions.

“I was just upset that you just left me after we got food to go talk to a guy and I was standing tight behind you watching you touch his arm and ignore me,” he said. “And when I spoke up you introduced me which you could have done but when I left you just kept on chatting to him when I was clearly upset.”

He said he had a headache and admitted he should have spoken softly to her when she tapped his neck to try to make him feel better.

They also differed over an admission that she smoked marijuana more than once. At one point she had to reassure him, “I wasn’t a stripper or a ho,” adding that she had not been a prude but had previously enjoyed innocent fun with no harmful repercussions.

The evidence follows previous testimony from Pistorius’ former girlfriend, Samantha Taylor, who said he often shouted at her and her friends.

Another message extracted from Pistorius’ cell Jan. 11, 2013, appeared to support the prosecution case that Pistorius asked a friend, Darren Fresco, to lie and take the rap after the athlete fired a gun under a table in a crowded restaurant.

“Angel please don’t say anything to anyone,” Pistorius wrote to Steenkamp, according to Moller. “Darren told everyone it was his fault. I can’t afford for that to come out,” he said. “The guys promised not to say a thing.”

Pistorius has pleaded not guilty to recklessly discharging a firearm in the restaurant and also pleaded not guilty to firing his pistol into the air from a speeding car. Two witnesses testified he did fire out of the car.

Earlier Monday, a neighbor, Anette Stipp, told the court she heard a woman screaming in the early hours of Feb. 14, 2013. She was the fifth neighbor to testify about hearing a woman’s screams that night.

Pistorius' defense team maintains that only he screamed that night. Defense attorney Barry Roux earlier suggested that Pistorius sounds like a woman when he screams.

“It was moments after the shots I heard a lady screaming, terrified, terrified screaming,” Stipp, an occupational therapist, testified. “The screaming just continued. It did not stop.”

robyn.dixon@latimes.com

Twitter: @robyndixon

Copyright © 2014, Los Angeles Times
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