Oscar Pistorius trial: 5 memorable moments that captivated the world

CNN  — 

The Oscar Pistorius trial captivated the world with its memorable moments and cast of characters. There were tears and retching. Graphic images and graphic re-enactments. And a prosecutor nicknamed “pit bull,” who got his share of admonishment from the stern, diminutive judge referred to as, “my lady,” a South African honorific for female judges.

Pistorius was convicted of negligent killing in the death last year of his girlfriend, Reeva Steenkamp. He says he mistook her for an intruder when he fired bullets into the bathroom door.

On Tuesday, the judge handed down his fate: Five years in prison for culpable homicide, which in South Africa means a person was killed unintentionally, but unlawfully.

He was also given a three-year sentence on a firearms charge, but it was suspended for five years on condition he’s not found guilty of another crime where there’s negligence involving a firearm during that period.

Here are five unforgettable moments from the months-long trial.

1. Graphic photos of the night of the shooting

A distressed Pistorius broke down when the prosecution put up photos of his girlfriend’s bloody head. Prosecutor Gerrie Nel said her head exploded after the shooting, and demanded Pistorius look at the images.

Reeva Steenkamp

He turned away, saying he doesn’t need to see them.

“I remember … I was there,” Pistorius whispered. He wept and vomited.

2. Pistorius’ changing defense

When Pistorius was on the witness stand, he changed his defense multiple times, contradicted himself and sometimes accused his lawyers of not asking proper questions.

He changed his story on why he fired through a bathroom door, at times saying it was in self defense and at other times saying he had no intent to shoot.

His contradictions and finger-pointing affected his credibility, and provided the prosecution with a point of attack.

3. Payments to Steenkamp’s family

Bombshell details emerged during the sentencing hearing, including the fact that Pistorius was providing monthly payments to his dead girlfriend’s parents. Pistorius has sent them about $600 a month since March of 2013, which they said they accepted because of financial difficulties. They had planned to deduct the total of the payments from a future civil suit claim. But they have decided not to file a civil suit, and will refund the money, the Steenkamps said in a statement.

4. Passionate messages between the couple

When Pistorius killed his girlfriend, the two had only dated for a few months. From the outside, the “it couple” seemed perfect as they hobnobbed in glitzy social circles. But phone messages retrieved from Steenkamp’s phone and read in court revealed a passionate but sometimes rocky romance.

“I am the girl who let go with u even when I was scared out of my mind to. I’m the girl who fell in love with u and wanted to tell u this weekend. But I’m also the girl that gets sidestepped when you are in a s**t mood,” one message from Steenkamp said.

“I feel you think u have me so why try anymore …” another one said.

Other messages seemed to show a loving couple who used endearing pet names for each other. He called her “angel” and she called him “baba.”

5. Pistorius removes his prosthetic legs

During the first few days of the trial, defense attorney Barry Roux asked his client to remove his prosthetic legs and demonstrate how he used a bat to break the bathroom door after he killed his girlfriend. It was the first time some had ever seen the Olympian on his stumps.

The prosecution and defense had disagreed over whether the runner was wearing his prosthetic legs when he broke into the toilet where Steenkamp lay bleeding.

Pistorius has said that after realizing that Steenkamp was behind the door, he went back to the bedroom to put on his prosthetic legs. The demonstration ultimately helped prove his version of events as true.

Pistorius’ legs are amputated below the knees. He dons prosthetic legs or J-shaped blades during track competitions, which have earned him the nickname “Blade Runner.”

CNN’s Steve Almasy contributed to this report.