The Pistorius Case: Do Police Claims Fit the Story?

As a court tries to decide whether to grant the athlete bail, lawyers and detectives go at what led up to the death of Reeva Steenkamp

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SIPHIWE SIBEKO / Reuters

Oscar Pistorius stands during a break in court proceedings at the Pretoria Magistrate Court in Pretoria, South Africa, on Feb. 20, 2013

Oscar Pistorius’ lawyer on Wednesday tore into the lead South African detective accusing the Olympic and Paralympic sprinter of the premeditated murder of his girlfriend, forcing him to admit he found no inconsistencies between the evidence and Pistorius’ account of how he accidentally shot model Reeva Steenkamp after mistaking her for a burglar. The police “take every piece of evidence and try to extract the most possibly negative connotation and present it to the court,” Pistorius’ defense lawyer Barry Roux told the court. Later Roux repeatedly asked National Prosecuting Authority investigating officer Detective Warrant Officer Hilton Botha whether he found anything at the scene inconsistent with the version of events presented by Pistorius in court on Tuesday. Botha said he had not.

Pistorius, a double amputee nicknamed the Blade Runner for his distinctive thin carbon-fiber running protheses — and who became one of the stars of the 2012 London Olympics — was arrested early on the morning of Valentine’s Day, Feb. 14. The hearing at Pretoria Magistrate Court, now in its third day, is nominally to decide whether to grant him bail. But as both sides set out their case for whether Pistorius is a flight risk and a danger to the public, the case has become, in effect, a trial in itself. On Tuesday, Pistorius set out his version of the killing, admitting to shooting Steenkamp through a toilet door but saying he thought she was a burglar. And on Wednesday, state prosecutors responded, calling lead detective Hilton Botha to set out the case for premeditated murder, the most serious murder charge in South African law.

On Tuesday, Pistorius, 26, said he and Steenkamp, 29, went to bed soon after 10 p.m. after a quiet dinner together at his home in the South African capital. At around 3 a.m., Pistorius said he woke up to fetch a fan from his balcony, and when he stepped back into the bedroom, he heard a noise from the bathroom. Keenly aware of South Africa’s epidemic violent crime, he said he reached for a 9-mm pistol he kept under his bed, called out to the intruder, then shot four times through the door. (Pistorius claims not to have been using his prostheses; the prosecution, pointing to the angle of the shots, hints it may be otherwise.) Only when he returned to the bed to discover Steenkamp was not there did he begin to realize she might be in the toilet. He beat down the door with a cricket bat, carried her limp body to his front door but — shot in the head, hip and elbow — she died. “I fail to understand how I could be charged with murder, let alone premeditated murder, as I had no intention to kill my girlfriend,” said Pistorius in an affidavit read to the court on Tuesday by his lawyer. “Nothing can be further from the truth. I deny the allegation in the strongest terms.”

Initially on Wednesday, Botha appeared to present a wholly different scenario. First Botha said he found two boxes of “steroids” in Pistorius’ bedroom, though he later changed this to “two boxes of testosterone, needles and injections.” He added one witness had heard a fight, “two people talking loudly at each other,” between 2 a.m. and 3 a.m. The lights in Pistorius’ house were on, he said, contradicting Pistorius’ version that the shooting occurred in the dark. He also detailed violent threats made by Pistorius to another man in a dispute over a girl and an incident in which he said Pistorius fired a gun in a restaurant in January. “I believe that he knew that Reeva was in the bathroom and he shot four shots through the door,” said Botha, adding that the trajectory of the rounds indicated they were aimed deliberately at her. Prosecutor Gerrie Nel, projecting a plan of Pistorius’ house, said there was no way for Pistorius to have walked past the bed to the bathroom without noticing Steenkamp was not in bed. “There’s no other way of getting there,” Nel said.

But Roux rapidly tore apart the state’s case. When the lawyer said the drugs in Pistorius’ bedroom were not testosterone but an herbal remedy called testo-compositum co-enzyme, Botha admitted he was not sure he had read the name correctly. Pressured again, Botha conceded that the witness who overheard the argument lived 600 m away, a figure he later adjusted to 300 m. The officer also admitted he had not worn protective footwear to prevent contamination of the scene and that Pistorius’ legal team had found a spent bullet cartridge in the toilet bowl that Botha’s officers had missed. Botha also said he had had “no problem” with Pistorius receiving bail in the first instance but later changed his mind when he discovered more details about the case. Finally, when magistrate Desmond Nair asked whether Botha opposed bail because Pistorius was a flight risk, and Botha agreed, Nair asked: “You believe he would take the option, on protheses as he is, known as he is, to flee South Africa if he was granted bail?” To laughter in court, Botha replied: “It’s possible.”

The hearing was adjourned to Thursday morning.

18 comments
spookiewriter
spookiewriter

I just love all the armchair detectives commenting on this site.

Kubla_Khan
Kubla_Khan

There's a lot of evidence to be explored and clarified (tragectory of bullets, neighbour bearing witness, etc.) but there are already two glaring oddities in the story Pistorius is weaving:

Sharing his house and bed that night with his loved one, but suddenly becoming terrified by an unexpected sound, he plugs the bathroom with four shots to kill (an imagined) burglar (which is premeditated murder, by the way) without even checking where the woman he loved *so much* might be, let alone ushering her away into a safe part of the house before the cops and robbers shout-out?

When Reeva was shot, it was through her street clothes.  She was dressed in street wear.  She was neither naked nor wearing sleepwear.

I'm not an idiot.  Thus, I do not believe his story.

lea
lea like.author.displayName 1 Like

I don't feel sorry for a murderer. All that blubbing in court was nauseating self pity. He killed that poor girl who must have died in terror. Young women do not lock a bathroom door when they go for a pee in the night with no one in the house but their lover

RonaldMccord
RonaldMccord like.author.displayName 1 Like

what side of the bed does he sleep on?

Normally, a single resident sleeps on the side closest to the bathroom. Why? so they could get to it faster at night.

If that is the case, Pistorious would have had to get up and go around his bed to go out the balcony door. Crossing the "sleeping" beauty. If she got up after him, Almost naturally she would have asked why he's up. BEFORE going to the bathroom.

Coming back into the room he would have, again, past by her. While getting his gun.

The first thing a person does when they go to the bathroom is TURN ON THE LIGHT.

About her bladder. Anybody check the toilet or the floor?

Also! Somebody better check the IOC about those steriods.

relmasian
relmasian like.author.displayName 1 Like

Assuming everything Pistorius and his attorneys have said so far is true, Oscar Pistorius is still guilty of murder.  Indeed, even if he shot and killed an actual burglar he would be guilty.  Pistorius cannot claim self defense.  He was never threatened.  Fear without a tangible threat is no excuse for killing another human being including a burglar.  That said, one has to feel sorry for all including Pistorius.  It was a needless tragedy in which everyone involved is a loser.


splash
splash like.author.displayName 1 Like

this article definitely is biased towards Oscar. There were holes in Oscars story so I am surprised at the answer given by Botha. He belongs in bars for the rest of his life

Skimaan
Skimaan

Which of the following two options can give the best  answer to "did you intend to kill your girlfriend?"?

a) The police

b) The neighbors

c) Pistorius 

d) Lawyer

e) Polygrapgh

jonartfer
jonartfer

The scenario seems improbable, however the prosecution will need more than this. what was his motive? A claimed witness from 300 metres away, is no witness at all.

vw2win
vw2win

If any man  felt his household were under siege or attack he  would naturally awaken his female counterpart. Particularly if she was in bed next to him. 

Perhaps if she were in another part of the house to better protect her and  preserve the element of surprise he MIGHT  forgo immediate  communication with her

ZuckerbergDavid
ZuckerbergDavid

He'll get away with it, he's got a team of top lawyers and detectives to back him up. He will be released on a technicality, his top lawyers will find one. Hard to take a wealthy man down!

Skimaan
Skimaan like.author.displayName 1 Like

The neighbors' accounts are believable regardless of the 300 or 600-meter distance because they're consistent.

"a witness on the upscale gated community near Pretoria where Pistorius lived as saying he heard a shot, followed 17 minutes later by more shots. Another witness spoke of a shot, followed by screams, followed by more shots,"

With the early first shot minutes from the rest of the shots, and the screams, Pistorius must have known whom he was shooting at to kill.



jdeyoung_
jdeyoung_

does major news organizations not proofread their work anymore?  f'ing sloppy.

Around 3 p.m., Pistorius said he woke up to fetch a fan from his balcony and when he stepped back into the bedroom, he heard a noise from the bathroom. 


RobertBrennan
RobertBrennan like.author.displayName like.author.displayName like.author.displayName 3 Like

This guy doesn't have a leg to stand on. No normal person would act the way he did, his explanation is hogwash.

anonnn
anonnn like.author.displayName like.author.displayName like.author.displayName like.author.displayName 4 Like

" he said he reached for a 9mm pistol he kept under his bed, called out to the intruder, then shot four times through the door"

"Only when he returned to the bed to discover Steenkamp was not there did he begin to realize" ummm....?? He reached for a gun UNDER HIS BED... but didn't see her in the bed then?...okay...

"

nenireyes
nenireyes

@anonnn am so with you on this one. This guy is guilty to the bones, but i would not doubt it if we get another O.J.