Pistorius Asked Pal to Take Fall for Gun Incident: Testimony
Kevin Lerena says runner feared 'media hype'
By Evann Gastaldo,  Newser Staff
Posted Mar 5, 2014 11:57 AM CST
Oscar Pistorius sits in the dock on the third day of his trial at the high court in Pretoria, South Africa, Wednesday, March 5, 2014.   (AP Photo/Alon Skuy, Pool)

(Newser) – When Oscar Pistorius accidentally fired a pistol in a crowded Johannesburg restaurant, nearly hitting his friend Kevin Lerena, he then asked another friend to take the blame for the incident, Lerena testified at Pistorius' murder trial today. The incident, which came just weeks before Pistorius fatally shot girlfriend Reeva Steenkamp, started when the third friend Darren Fresco passed his pistol to Pistorius under the table, Lerena said. Fresco told Pistorius there was a bullet in the chamber, but Pistorius' lawyer says it was too noisy for Pistorius to hear that, the AP reports.

After the shot went off, grazing Lerena's toe, Pistorius apologized to everyone, but as management approached, Lerena says Pistorius beseeched Fresco, "Just say it was you. I don't want any tension around me. There's too much media hype around me. ... Take the blame because this could be big." Pistorius' lawyer claims the athlete actually confronted Fresco, angry that the gun was loaded, and Fresco offered to take the blame. Lerena disputed that, the Wall Street Journal reports. Fresco did end up taking responsibility, telling the restaurant owners the gun fell out of his pocket, Reuters reports. In addition to the murder charge, Pistorius faces two charges of recklessly discharging a gun, one of them related to the restaurant incident. Click for more from the trial.