Oscar Leonard Carl Pistorius (28), the celebrated South African blade-runner is currently on trial facing charges of murder and the use of guns in public areas. Pistorius admitted to shooting his girlfriend, model Reeva Steenkamp, on 14 February 2013.
Pistorius (28) is a decorated sprint runner. Although both his legs were amputated below the knee when he was only 11 months old, he competes in events for single below-knee amputees and for able-bodied athletes.
Pistorius has undoubtedly made history as both an Olympic and Paralympic and has been an inspiration to others all of over the world. However, his fate now lies in the hands of a South African judge, Thokozile Masipa.
In a drawn out and highly publicized trial, the state alleges that on that on that fateful day Oscar intentionally shot Reeva Steenkamp, resulting in her death. Meanwhile Oscar has admitted shooting Steenkamp, but has argued that he mistakenly thought it was an intruder.
The state has been able to uncover solid evidence, however none of the evidence they have presented has yielded any sort of conclusive breakthrough. For example, the prosecution called in several of Pistorius’ neighbours to testify about the noises that they claim emanated from Pistorius’ home in the early hours of February 14, at the time of the shooting. They claim to have heard the scream of a woman, and they have used this information to support their case in proving the athlete must have known Ms. Steenkamp was in the bathroom before he shot. However the defense argued strongly against the state’s claim through robust cross examination of witnesses that exposed gaps and discrepancies within the individual witnesses’ versions.
The prosecution’s claim was also discredited by scientific tests done by experts that concluded that there was no way the neighbors could have heard screams coming from inside the bathroom of Oscars home.
Subsequently, the sound of the gunshots became another topic of discussion. The prosecution again relied on the testimony of neighbors who claim to have heard four gunshots shortly after being woken by the sound of a woman screaming.
They described how they heard screaming just before and during the gunshots, and how the screams “faded away”.
The defense has argued that the neighbors had instead heard the sound of Pistorius using a cricket bat to break through the door to get to Steenkamp. Mr. Roux, Pistorius’ lawyer, wanted to show that Ms. Steenkamp could not have possibly been able to scream and that it may have been Oscar screaming desperately for help.
As of April 7, 2014 Oscar is due to take the stand. Part of the defense’s strategy was to give background about Oscar’s life and upbringing. The state also described the relationship between Oscar and Reeva. They concluded that for the most part the relationship was healthy.
As they described the events that led to the shooting of Reeva Steenkamp, it became clear that the state’s case wass based on circumstantial evidence. It is a requirement for the state to prove its case beyond reasonable doubt, the evidence so far brought forth by the state has left many questions unanswered. Currently, it remains quite arguable that the defense has presented a stronger case and has managed to discredit a lot of the evidence presented by the state. However the decision still lies with Judge Thokozile Masipa who is schooled to be able to differentiate between facts and emotion.