Home' Trinidad and Tobago Guardian : August 9th 2014 Contents A65
Satuurday, August 9, 2014 www.guardian.co.tt Guardian
high court in
The judge in
trial of Oscar
she will give a
PRETORIA---As Oscar Pistorius lawyer
put it yesterday, the murder trial of the
double-amputee athlete comes down to
a sliver of time---the seconds before he
fired four gunshots through a closed toilet
door and killed his girlfriend, Reeva
The world will have to wait another
month to hear a verdict in a globally tel-
evised five-month trial whose blend of
shock and celebrity, framed by the rise
and fall of a role model-turned-murder suspect, has
transfixed people far beyond South Africa s borders.
Judge Thokozile Masipa said at the end of two
days of final arguments that she will give a verdict
on September 11, signaling the approaching end of
a trial that has had several delays, including one
break for an evaluation of Pistorius state of mind.
Earlier, in monologues that lasted for hours, chief
lawyers for both sides gave their clashing versions
of what happened at the Olympic runner s Pretoria
home in the early hours of Valentine s Day last year.
Pistorius has said he mistakenly shot Steenkamp
through the closed door of a toilet cubicle, thinking
there was an intruder in his home. The prosecution
alleges the athlete intentionally killed her after an
After the court adjourned, a rare message appeared
on the once-active Twitter account of Pistorius, who
last tweeted in July after an altercation with another
man at a nightclub last month that his own family
acknowledged was the result of poor judgment on
his part. Yesterday s message read:
"Thank you to my loved ones and those that have
been there for me, who have picked me up and
helped me through everything."
Pistorius, who has been free on bail, sat calmly
on a bench yesterday behind his lawyer. He wore
glasses, mostly looking straight ahead.
Masipa will decide with the help of two legal assis-
tants whether Pistorius, 27, is guilty of premeditated
murder, for which he could face 25 years to life in
prison if convicted. He could also be convicted of
a lesser murder charge or negligent killing, both of
which call for years in jail. The judge could acquit
him if she believes he made a tragic error.
South Africa does not have a jury system. Nor
does it have the death penalty.
"It comes down to that split second, that one
minute or 20 seconds, I don t know how long it was,
or 30 seconds in the accused s life where he was
standing at the entrance to the bathroom, firearm
pointed at the door," defence lawyer Barry Roux said.
"That is what this case is all about."
Roux argued the killing was an accident and said
Pistorius disability had made him particularly vul-
nerable and anxious about crime over the years,
comparing him to a victim of abuse who kills an
abuser after a long period of suffering. Pistorius had
his lower legs amputated as a baby, and Roux said
that the athlete s long-held fear of being attacked
with the disability played a central role in the shooting
on February 14, 2013.
At one point yesterday, Roux slammed his hand
onto a desk in the Pretoria courtroom to mimic a
sudden sound he says the disabled athlete heard
during the fatal night, startling him and causing him
to open fire.
"You re anxious. You re trained as an athlete to
react ... He stands now with his finger on the trigger
ready to fire," Roux said, describing the allegedly
fearful mindset of Pistorius when he killed Steenkamp.
Pistorius pleaded not guilty to the main murder
charge and also three separate firearm charges. Roux,
however, conceded that he was guilty in one of those
firearm charges, of negligently firing a gun in a public
place in a restaurant weeks before he killed Steenkamp.
Prosecutors have used those firearm charges to paint
Pistorius as a hothead who was obsessed with guns,
not the vulnerable figure described by his legal team.
Roux also alleged that items in Pistorius bedroom,
near the bathroom where he killed Steenkamp, may
have been moved around by investigating officers,
repeating the defense s allegation that police tampered
with evidence, albeit unintentionally.
The positioning of bedroom items, including a
fan, a bedcover and a pair of Steenkamp s jeans, are
important because, in police photographs, they were
not in the places where Pistorius said they were
before the shooting. Prosecutors have used this to
argue Pistorius is lying to hide a murder. (AP)
Pistorius murder trial to
hear verdict September 11
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