Oscar Pistorius, the South African track star currently on trial alleged of murdering his 27-year-old girlfriend Reeva Steenkamp in the early morning hours on valentine’s day in 2013, is back in court after a brief recess. The Pistorius’ trial is about to reach a very critical point in his defense that could help the athlete clear his name or send him to a South African prison.
Defense attorneys for the athletic amputee are embarking on a tactic to prove that the shooting death at the hands of Pistorius was a tragic accident and not a premeditated plot to kill his swimsuit model girlfriend, as charged by the courts. The defense needs to make up for the poor traction they had in earlier portions of the trial that had shown Oscar Pistorius on the stand with inconsistent testimony, as noticed by Judge Thokozile Masipa. On Monday, the defense is expected to call on witness testimony to support their claims and render Pistorius’ previous and very shaky testimony irrelevant.
According to earlier testimony by the defense, Pistorius and his girlfriend were in bed asleep when hours into the early morning, Oscar Pistorius shot four times into the bathroom door believing it to be an intruder. Oscar Pistorius allegedly failed to critically check to see if Reeva Steenkamp was actually in the bed, pointing out in the trial that the entire incident to be a poor judgement call. While defense attorney’s for Pistorius claim to have 17 witnesses, so far they have only called three to the stand, at which point, the defense hopes to blow a hole in the prosecutions claim that neighbors in the upscale community where Pistorius lived heard the shrilling scream of a woman’s voice coming from the home. The defense is claiming that the screams in question were those from Oscar Pistorius and not a woman.
From the very start of the trial, those working to clear Pistorius of any wrong doing have been using the runners vulnerability of his physical disability as a source of drumming up sympathy to the judge. The paralympic sprinter who lost both legs at the age of 11 months old has made a career for himself representing South Africa with this ability to win a string of gold medals. The defense is hoping the judge will see a man with a disability who feared of encountering a home intruder on that very fateful night.
Prosecutors are making it a point at the trial of painting a very different picture of the scenario, claiming that Oscar Pistorius and Reeva Steenkamp had been engaging in a critical and violent argument which lead to Steenkamp screaming into the bathroom, at which point Pistorius shot the blonde model in the hip, head and arm, killing her. Unlike trials in other parts of the world, South Africa does not conduct trials by jury. All testimony and facts in South African cases are determined solely by a judge. In this case, Judge Masipa will make the ultimate decision on whether Oscar Pistorius walks away a free man or will spend 25 years to life in prison.
By Hal Banfield