Crucial phase for defence as Oscar Pistorius trial resumes

2014-05-05 08:16

Multimedia   ·   User Galleries   ·   News in Pictures Send us your pictures  ·  Send us your stories

Oscar Pistorius’ murder trial enters a critical phase today as his defence team attempts to recover from a faltering start and reinforce the Paralympian’s claim that he fatally shot girlfriend Reeva Steenkamp by mistake because he was overwhelmed by a long-held fear of violent crime.

Pistorius’ mindset when he stood on his stumps in a bathroom and pulled the trigger on his 9mm pistol in the early hours of 14 February 2013 remains the crux of the trial that has captured worldwide attention and is about to start its seventh week of globally televised proceedings.

It was initially scheduled to run for three weeks.

Judge Thokozile Masipa will analyse thousands of pages of testimony before she reaches a verdict, but ultimately must ponder the pivotal question: Did Pistorius fire his gun with the intention to kill or out of a misplaced belief that his life was in danger from a perceived intruder?

Masipa will decide, with the help of two assessors, if Pistorius’ overall account is believable and whether the apparent inconsistencies in his testimony count against him or are unimportant in the bigger picture.

If Pistorius’ defence, which will resume today as witnesses are called after a two-week trial recess, can show that his story of a tragic error is a reasonable explanation, even the double-amputee runner’s shaky testimony would be rendered irrelevant and the judge should acquit him of murder, legal experts say.

While testifying, Pistorius sometimes contradicted earlier testimony and at other times, said he did not remember details.

“The test doesn’t end there,” former state prosecutor Marius du Toit said of Pistorius’s testimony. “It’s not over. They [the defence] can still show there is another plausible scenario.”

Du Toit has over 20 years’ experience in SA’s criminal justice system and is following the trial closely. He said it must be shown that Pistorius had the “sole intention” to kill Steenkamp to be convicted of murder.

Pistorius doesn’t dispute that he shot Steenkamp (29) through a toilet door.

He claims the killing was accidental and that he fired four times in quick succession without thinking and while terrified, believing that an intruder had climbed up a ladder and through a bathroom window of his Pretoria villa in the predawn hours and was about to come out of the cubicle and attack him.

Prosecutors charge that the story is an intricate lie designed to cover up a murder.

They say the couple fought, Steenkamp fled to the toilet screaming and Pistorius followed her and shot her through the wooden door while they were arguing.

She was hit in the hip, arm and head.

Join the conversation! encourages commentary submitted via MyNews24. Contributions of 200 words or more will be considered for publication.

We reserve editorial discretion to decide what will be published.
Read our comments policy for guidelines on contributions. publishes all comments posted on articles provided that they adhere to our Comments Policy. Should you wish to report a comment for editorial review, please do so by clicking the 'Report Comment' button to the right of each comment.

Comment on this story
Comments have been closed for this article.

Inside News24


Book flights

Compare, Book, Fly

Traffic Alerts
There are new stories on the homepage. Click here to see them.


Create Profile

Creating your profile will enable you to submit photos and stories to get published on News24.

Please provide a username for your profile page:

This username must be unique, cannot be edited and will be used in the URL to your profile page across the entire network.


Location Settings

News24 allows you to edit the display of certain components based on a location. If you wish to personalise the page based on your preferences, please select a location for each component and click "Submit" in order for the changes to take affect.

Facebook Sign-In

Hi News addict,

Join the News24 Community to be involved in breaking the news.

Log in with Facebook to comment and personalise news, weather and listings.