Monday, April 14, 2014

Anyone Following the Pistorius Case?

World-renowned Olympic athlete Oscar Pistorius found himself in the spotlight again in February of 2013, when he was accused of killing his girlfriend, Reeva Steenkamp, in his South African home. Pistorius, who's currently on trial for murder, says he shot her in self-defense after mistaking her for an intruder. As the South African legal system attempts to determine his guilt or innocence, here are the answers to some frequently asked questions surrounding the case.
Who is Oscar Pistorius?
He is a South African sprinter who made international headlines after becoming a Paralympic champion in his quest to run with the best sprinters in the world. His legs were amputated just below the kneecap when he was less than a year old. He runs with prosthetic legs called blades, which is why he's nicknamed "The Blade Runner." 
Who was Reeva Steenkamp?
She was a 29-year-old South African model and TV presenter who had been with Pistorius since November of 2012, just 3 months before her death. Steenkamp was also a law school graduate.
What does Pistorius say happened the night that Steenkamp died?
He says he heard a noise in the bathroom and thought Steenkamp was asleep in bed. Suspecting there was a robber in the bathroom, he fired his gun. He says when he realized it was Steenkamp in the bathroom, he beat the door down with a cricket bat and carried her body downstairs.
What do prosecutors say happened that night?
They say the couple got into an argument on the night of Valentine's Day 2013, and that Pistorius followed Steenkamp into a bathroom of his house and shot though the door leading to the toilet, hitting Steenkamp four times.
What is Pistorius charged with?
Murder, which allows a judge to choose among several scenarios: Premeditated murder, murder or culpable homicide.  
In a culpable homicide ruling, the judge could find that Pistorius did believe there was a burglar in the house, but his action of shooting into the door was unreasonable.  
Pistorius is also facing a variety of unrelated gun charges.   
Read more: The background on the Oscar Pistorius case
If convicted, what sentence could he get?
Vinnie Politan of HLN's Now: On the Case says if Pistorius is convicted of premeditated murder, then he'll get life in prison with no opportunity for parole for at least 25 years. If Pistorius is convicted of murder, he'll get 15 years in prison. If the ruling is culpable homicide, then the sentence is up to the judge's discretion. 
Could Pistorius get the death penalty?
No, South Africa does not have the death penalty.
Will Pistorius take the stand?
Probably. In a statement his defense attorney read to the court, Pistorius said he would explain his version of what happened the night of Steenkamp's death in open court.
Who is deciding his case?
The South African legal system relies on judges rather than juries to determine guilt or innocence. Judge Thokozile Masipa is listening to the case and will decide whether Pistorius is guilty. She has 15 years experience as a judge, and before that, she worked as a lawyer and a reporter.  
Why do the witnesses say "milady"? 
It is because they are giving their answers to the judge. 
Who is the prosecutor in the Pistorius case?
The state is represented by Gerrie Nel, whom many in South Africa consider to be the top prosecutor in the country. He has won cases of murder and police corruption before taking this case.
Who is Pistorius' defense attorney?
Barry Roux is representing Pistorius at trial. He's considered to be one of the top defense attorneys in South Africa.
What are some of the differences between South African trials and those that take place in the United States?
The case is decided by a judge, not a jury (though U.S. defendants sometimes have this option). The rules on hearsay are much looser in South Africa. There are fewer objections, and the questioning is different, allowing witnesses to tell stories, and allowing defense attorneys more leeway in cross-examining witnesses.
How long is this trial expected to take?
Before the trial, it was expected to take several weeks. However, at it's current pace, legal analysts believe it could take longer.

LWDLIK - I have soooo many questions...

Q. Why did Oscar Pistorius need a cricket bat to batter open the bathroom door? Who locks the bathroom door in the middle of the night? If the door was locked, it's because she was scared and trying to keep him locked out!!! Why isn't anyone questioning that?

Q. If Pistorius screamed for Reeva to call the police why would she not scream back from toilet asking WTH is going on?

Q.  Why were the curtains open if they were sleeping?

Q. The stomach contents were of a meal that had been eaten recently, not 8 hours prior as per his statement?

Q. Why was her bag packed if she was spending the night?

Q. If Pistorious fired through the door with a gun and there's no noise coming from within why do you then need a bat?

Q. According to investigative reports the first bullet wound was hip level so she would have been screaming, why didn't he stop?

Q. Witnesses say the lights were on and that they heard screams from a woman, Pistorius denies both.


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