Oscar Pistorius took the stand yesterday and used the opportunity to show how sorry he was for killing Reeva Steenkamp. He claims he was trying to protect her. Reeva’s mom didn’t buy it. He also said that he has nightmares and is taking anti-depressants and sleeping pills. Pistorius described several incidents that he claims have resulted in him living in fear and feeling vulnerable. He finished Monday’s testimony by saying that he was happy that Reeva was a Christian and that “my God’s a God of refuge.”
Also on the stand Monday was the defense witness, Jan Botha. He disputed the prosecutor’s witness regarding Reeva’s stomach contents and the time of death.
Today Pistorius went over his version of that night, claiming he thought the person in the bathroom was an intruder. Earlier he said that he felt he was more into Reeva than she was into him. Pistorius broke down sobbing as he testified to Reeva not breathing and proceedings for the day ended.
The defense scored some points today as the former police colonel, G.S. Van Rensburg, was on the stand. Rensburg described several problems that came up including a detective handling the gun without gloves, one of Pistorius’s watches went missing, and the bathroom door was supposed to have been bagged and sent to his office. Rensburg had to resign from the force in December for mishandling the door after 30 years as an officer. Roux (defense lawyer) also brought up the statements of three police officers whose accounts differed with Rensburg’s. When prosecutor Gerrie Nel ran through some photos Pistorius kept his head down.
As most of you are aware Oscar Pistorius (the Blade Runner) is on trial in South Africa for the murder of his girlfriend, Reeva Steenkamp. Michelle Burgar, a neighbor, was the only witness today. She testified to hearing gunshots and “petrifying” screams from a female. The defense attorney, Barry Roux, tried to get her to say the screams could have been Pistorius but she said she heard two distinct voices. Regarding the gunshots Roux tried to get her to say they may have been the sound of a bat breaking down the bathroom door but she insisted it was gunshots. I have attached a link to a great article outlining the entire case below.
The Oscar Pistorius trial begins this week and it looks like it could be a long one. The opening and closing arguments will be live as well as expert testimony and the final judgement. This is a first in South Africa. The judge said he wanted the people to see that money and fame will not affect the outcome of this trial. The witness testimony (including Pistorius, should he decide to testify) will have audio only. The players include the following:
The judge is a woman: Thokozile Matilda Masipa, a former crime reporter who made headlines in 1998 when she became the second black woman to be appointed to the high court. She has a history of firm judgments in crimes against women. There are no jury trials in South Africa so the judge will render the final decision.
Pistorius has a strong legal team: Barry Roux is the primary lawyer with more than 30 years’ experience. He was able to destroy the police case at the bail hearing so that the man in charge of the investigation, Hilton Botha, was removed from the case. Roux charges about $6,000 a day.
Kenny Oldwageis another of his lawyers. He is famous in South Africa for defending Sizwe Mankazana, a man who drove the car that killed Nelson Mandela’s 13-year-old great-granddaughter. That man was aquitted.
The defense also has many expert witnesses, they even spoke to Henry Lee (according to Lee), famous for defending OJ Simpson. An expert team from the U.S. will reconstruct the crime scene. There is also a geologist on board.
The lead prosecutor is Gerrie Nel, a very serious lawyer who won a corruption conviction against a South African police chief- Jackie Selebi. Selebi was also head of Interpol.
The lead detective is Vinesh Moonoo, a father of two who is the top cop in South Africa.
There are over 100 people on the witness list. Included are Pistorius’ former girlfriend, friends who support him and friends who do not support him, people he has verbally abused and threatened physically and many more. I am looking forward to the Security Guard who called Pistorius right after the shooting to ask if everything was alright and Pistorius said: “Yes.”
For premeditated murder the sentence is life (25 years) in South Africa. If found not guilty on this charge he could still get culpable homicide and face 15 years.