Key Problems In Oscar Pistorius' Murder Defense Of Girlfriend Reeva Steenkamp


Feb. 19 2013, Published 6:30 p.m. ET

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As disgraced Olympic athlete Oscar Pistorius appeared in a South Africa courtroom at a bail hearing in connection with a murder charge of gunning down girlfriend Reeva Steenkamp, the international track star's defense emerged, and has uncovered key problems in the strategy.

Pistorius, who’s nicknamed “The Blade Runner” for his prosthetic limbs, made the statements through his lawyer in an affidavit, telling his side  of the story during his bail hearing at Pretoria Magistrate’s Court, where prosecutors charged him with premeditated murder. Pistorius has claimed that he's had multiple death threats on his life, and slept with a 9mm handgun under the bed.

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Prosecutors contend that Pistorius put on his prosthetic legs before he shot and killed Reeva four times. A judge will ultimately determine if the double amputee is guilty of murdering his girlfriend.

According to excerpts of Pistorius' affidavit, which was obtained by the Associated Press, before going to bed he took off his prosthetic legs. "During the early morning hours of 14 February 2013, I woke up, went onto the balcony to bring the fan in and closed the sliding doors, the blinds and the curtains. I heard a noise in the bathroom and realized that someone was in the bathroom. ... I felt a sense of terror rushing over me. ...," Pistorius stated.

Why didn't Pistorius put on his prosthetic legs when he went out onto the balcony? At this point, he didn't have his prosthetic limbs on when he went onto the balcony to retrieve the fan. It's unknown if Pistorius had gone to sleep with the balcony door open. If the balcony door was open while the couple was sleeping, he will have a hard time explaining why someone so scared for their safety, would sleep with a balcony door open.

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The Nike spokesman said he believed that someone had entered his house. "I was too scared to switch a light on. On my way to the bathroom I screamed words to the effect for him/them to get out of my house and for Reeva to phone the police. It was pitch dark in the bedroom and I thought Reeva was in bed. I noticed that the bathroom window was open. I realized that the intruder/s was/were in the toilet because the toilet door was closed and I did not see anyone in the bathroom. ..." Pistorius described the bedroom as being pitch dark, and didn't turn the lights on.

If he had turned on the lights, he would have noticed Reeva wasn't in bed. Prosecutors will likely want to know why Pistorius was so frightened to simply turn on the lights to see who the intruder was, especially since he had his gun drawn.

Pistorius says in the statement that he didn't have his prosthetic legs on when he thought there was an intruder in the bathroom.

"As I did not have my prosthetic legs on and felt extremely vulnerable, I knew I had to protect Reeva and myself. I believed that when the intruder/s came out of the toilet we would be in grave danger. ...I fired shots at the toilet door and shouted to Reeva to phone the police. She did not respond ... Everything was pitch dark in the bedroom and I was still too scared to switch on a light," he asserted.

Reeva Steenkamp
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Wasn't Pistorius concerned for Reeva's well-being when she didn't respond to his request to call the police? He couldn't move as fast because he didn't have his artificial limbs on, giving Reeva more time to respond to him.

After firing four shots through the bathroom toilet room door, Pistorius THEN put on his prosthetic legs.

"When I reached the bed, I realized that Reeva was not in bed. That is when it dawned on me that it could have been Reeva who was in the toilet. I returned to the bathroom calling her name," he said. "I tried to open the toilet door but it was locked. I rushed back into the bedroom and opened the sliding door exiting onto the balcony and screamed for help.

"I put on my prosthetic legs, ran back to the bathroom and tried to kick the toilet door open. I think I must then have turned on the lights. I went back into the bedroom and grabbed my cricket bat to bash open the toilet door. ... Reeva was slumped over but alive."

Physical evidence will likely determine if Pistorius had been wearing his prosthetic legs when he shot Reeva because of the height of the bullet holes in the bathroom door. Prosecutors will likely hammer away at his claim that he wasn't wearing his prosthetic legs when he went onto the balcony to retrieve the fan. Why wouldn't he put them on before he went outside, and why even bother retrieving the fan of the second floor balcony in the middle of the night?

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As previously reported, prosecutor Gerrie Nel is seeking an enhanced premeditated murder charge against the athlete, which carries a mandatory lifetime jail sentence.

Nel argued that Pistorius and Reeva had a violent fight  and when Reeva ran from him and tried to take shelter in the bathroom, during which time he put on his prosthetic legs and approached the bathroom, he shot three times and killed the 29-year-old model-activist.

Prosecutors said the Olympic hero’s claim that he thought he was shooting an intruder  doesn’t hold water, asking, “Why would a burglar lock himself inside the bathroom?”

Nel — who said Pistorius’ alibi “was all part of the preplanning" — said that Reeva “couldn’t go anywhere” in the situation.

Chief Magistrate Desmond Nasir said Pistorius would be subject to the harshest bail sentencing possible in South African law, without elaborating further. Analysts predict bail will be denied, which would mean Pistorius would be transferred from the police station he’s being held in, to a jail facility.

Pistorius gained international fame as the first-ever double-amputee runner in Olympic competition. Running the 400 and 4x400 relay  during the 2012 Olympics, Pistorius finished eighth in both the team and individual competitions.



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