A Witness In The Oscar Pistorius Trial Has Testified About This Unsettling Incident

This week marks the beginning of Oscar Pistorius' murder trial. On Wednesday, boxer Kevin Lerena testified that, just a month before the death of Pistorius' girlfriend Reena Steenkamp, Pistorius fired a gun in a restaurant and convinced someone else to take responsibility. The record-breaking Olympian is accused of murdering Steenkamp in the early hours of Valentine's Day last year. Pistorius admits to shooting her, but claims it was an accident and he'd thought Steenkamp was an intruder to his Pretoria, South Africa home.

According to Lerena, he, Pistorius and two others had lunch in a Johannesburg restaurant in early 2013. For reasons unknown to Lerena, a gun was passed under the table, and a shot was fired off by Pistorius' hand, firing into the ground so perilously close to Lerena's foot that it grazed his toe.

Lerena testified that Pistorius was instantly apologetic — then set about trying to convince another man to take the fall for the apparently accidental gunshot. According to Lerena, Pistorius said: "Please Darren, just say it was you, I don't want any tension around me."

When the restuarant's manager arrived to question them, Darren had been convinced, and claimed the gun had been caught on his pants when it went off.

Lerena's retelling of the incident is an unsettling piece of testimony, and plays right into the prosecution's argument that Pistorius behaved recklessly with firearms. Until news broke that Pistorius had shot Steenkamp, accidentally or otherwise, Lerena hadn't spoken about the incident to anyone.

And if Lerena's story is accurate, it's understandable that Pistorius would have been keen to avoid that kind of publicity. A year after that grisly night, it's difficult to remember, but the Oscar Pistorius the world knew at the time was a beloved figure, an inspirational, once-in-a-generation athlete who still had everything to lose in terms of public profile and marketability.

Pistorius has plead not guilty to the charge of murder, and since juries are long-abolished in the South African judicial system, there won't be a jury verdict. Pistorius' fate rests entirely in the hands of Judge Thokozile Masipa, who is expected to make his decision within the month.