Oscar Pistorius: The case so far (the facts)

 Oscar Pistorius, a gold-medal winning Paralympian who participated in the London 2012 Olympics and Paralympics, faces a murder charge in the death of his girlfriend, model and law graduate Reeva Steenkamp. The deceased was shot inside Pritorius’ home in South Africa in February 2013.  It’s a striking turn of events in the life of a national hero, the first double-amputee Olympian, nicknamed “the Blade Runner” for his high-tech prosthetic legs. Here is a timeline of the key events following the tragic incident.
pistorius-2death-021413_lead_media_image_1-Feb 14, 2013- Pistorius’s girlfriend killed: Pistorius shoots his girlfriend model Reeva Steenkamp at his home in South Africa through a bathroom door, allegedly mistaking her for an intruder. 
hi-court-pistorius-03996934 Feb 16, 2013:  Pistorius ‘numb’ over girlfriend’s death:The runner’s uncle, Arnold Pistorius, makes a statement strongly disputing the premeditated murder allegation.                                                        
 -Feb 17, 2013: Pistorius has ‘overwhelming support’ from fans according to his agent: Pistorius’ sponsors, such as Nike and Oakley are said to be maintaining sponsorship deals with sprinter until legal verdict reached.
images (1)-Feb 18, 2013: Family of slain girlfriend wants answers: ‘Why my little girl? Why did this happen?’ Reeva Steenkamp’s mother says in an emotional telephone interview.   
PistoriousBailHearing9pm02192013_lead_media_image_1-Feb 19, 2013: Pistorius tells bail hearing he did not intend to kill girlfriend: ‘She died in my arms,’ says South African Olympic runner, claiming he had mistaken her for an intruder.                                             –Feb 20, 2013: Detective gives confused testimony in Pistorius case: Police say they found testosterone, defense says it was ‘herbal remedy’
South Africa Pistorius Shooting-Feb 21, 2013: Police dump lead detective from Pistorius murder case: South African police appoint a new chief detective in the murder case, replacing a veteran police officer who was himself charged with attempted murder.                                   -February 21, 2013: Sponsors back out: Oakley and Nike suspend their contracts with Pistorius.                                                                                             -February 22, 2013: Pistorius is granted bail pending murder trial Family of Pistorius’s girlfriend wants justice as Olympian gets bail. Magistrate Desmond Nair grants Pistorius R1-million bail. Conditions include that Pistorius surrender his passport and any weapons in his possession.
Barry Steenkamp leaves after a memorial service for daughter model Reeva Steenkamp at Victoria Park Crematorium in Port Elizabeth-February 23, 2013: Reeva Steenkamp’s father speaks to South African newspaper: Barry Steenkamp says he might be able to forgive Pistorius one day if he is telling the truth, but the athlete will have to “live with his conscience” if he is lying about how he killed her.                                                                                                          -February 24, 2013: Pistorius’s brother faces culpable homicide charge: Carl Pistorius is allegedly involved in a deadly crash with female motorcyclist, compounding problems for the family.
images (2)-February 25, 2013: Pistorius wants to train while out on bail:                                                      Pistorius informs South African authorities he wants to resume athletic training while on bail for the murder case against him. 
steenkamp-pistorius-2012-February 26, 2013: Pistorius plans private ceremony for Reeva Steenkamp: The personal memorial service would be at the Pretoria home of his uncle Arnold, where he has been staying since being released on bail.                                                                     -March 5, 2013: Pistorius family feuds over father’s gun comments    The family of Oscar Pistorius is feuding publicly over whether guns are a necessary protection against crime in South Africa.                                                 -March 11, 2013: Lawyers file appeal against bail conditions             According to court papers, lawyers argued against the requirement that Pistorius surrender all passports and travel documents, pending the end of his case.                                                                                                                             -March 22, 2013: Date set for appeal against bail conditions           Pretoria’s North Gauteng High Court confirms that Oscar Pistorius’ appeal against his bail conditions will be heard on March 28, a day after the homicide trial of his older brother Carl begins, meaning the brothers will both likely have legal proceedings on the same day.                                                                            -March 28, 2013: Oscar Pistorius can travel for competitions                   A judge rules that Pistorius can leave South Africa to compete in international track meets while he upheld the Olympic athlete’s appeal against some of his bail restrictions.                                                                                                          -April 4, 2013: Pistorius photographed training in blades                         A South African newspaper publishes a photograph of Pistorius at a running track in his carbon fiber blades. His agent denies Pistorius is already in training.
hi-852-oscar-pistorius-court-May 25, 2013: Authorities prepare case against Pistorius                                                    The National Prosecuting Authority issues a statement that the police investigation won’t be completed until August, ahead of Pistorius’ first court appearance in nearly four months on June 4.                                                -June 4, 2013: Case postponed until August 19, 2013
SNN2929OSC-620cf_1754449a-June 28, 2013: Pistorius resumes training               A bearded and much skinnier Pistorius is “overcome with emotion” as he pulls on his carbon fiber running blades for his first track training since Steenkamp’s killing, his agent says.
-August 19, 2013: Murder indictment              Pistorius is indicted on charges of murder and illegal possession of ammunition in a Pretoria court. He is seen crying and holding hands with his siblings before proceedings begin. His trial date is set for March 3, 2014.                                                                                               –August 20, 2013: Discussions over possible civil settlement                      The families of Pistorius and his slain girlfriend are in contact, a lawyer for Steenkamp’s parents says. The communication is over a possible out-of-court settlement that would compensate the Steenkamps for the killing of their daughter, according to South African press reports.                                                October 29, 2013: Pistorius to face 2 additional firearm charges            Prosecutors accusing Oscar Pistorius of premeditated murder will add two more charges believed to relate to firing guns in public to the indictment against him.                                                                                                                  -February 14, 2014: Pistorius mourns for Steenkamp                                  Pistorius says he is consumed by grief on the first anniversary of the day that he fatally shot his girlfriend in his home.                                                                  -March 2, 2014: Pistorius pleads not guilty                                                  The first witness in the Oscar Pistorius murder trial testified to hearing “blood-curdling” screams before the sound of four gunshots on the night the double-amputee Olympian killed his girlfriend.
March 4, 2014: Trial interrupted                                                                         Day 2 of Oscar Pistorius’s murder trial was dramatically interrupted when the judge ordered an investigation into allegations that a South African television channel was broadcasting a photograph of witness Michelle Burger.                  March 6, 2014Trial hears about restaurant gun incident                        The court hears testimony from boxer Kevin Lerena that Pistorius asked a friend to take the blame after a pistol was accidentally fired in a crowded Johannesburg restaurant.
image-March 10, 2014: Pistorius vomits during graphic testimony                                                Pistorius retches repeatedly and loudly at his murder trial as he hears graphic details of the injuries sustained by the girlfriend he shot, including a head wound that was probably instantly fatal according to the pathologist who performed her autopsy. 
safrica-pistorius-March 11, 2014: Pathologist resumes testimony                                                               Barry Roux, Pistorius’ top lawyer, questions the methods of the Pathologist who conducted an autopsy on Steenkamp. Prof. Gert Saayman’s testimony centered around evidence to establish the sequence of events before the shooting.
image (1)-March 12, 2014: Cricket bat, toilet door shown                                                                          A South African forensic analyst testifies that a cricket bat was used to strike the toilet door at the Pistorius’s home. Testimony focuses on the night that Pistorius fatally shot his girlfriend.                                                                    -March 13, 2014: Defence shows bloody prosthetics                                     A photograph of Oscar Pistorius’s blood-stained prosthetic legs was used by his chief defense lawyer to attempt to show that the athlete was wearing them, as he says, when he broke down a toilet door with a cricket bat to get to the girlfriend he fatally shot.
-March 17, 2014: Gun training academy manager testifies                           Months before he killed his girlfriend, Pistorius said he drew his gun and went into “combat mode” after hearing the noise of a possible intruder at home, which turned out to be a laundry machine, a South African gun expert testifies.
-March 18, 2014: Police altered crime scene: Defense                                    Police photographs of the blood-spattered scene where Pistorius shot dead his girlfriend indicate that evidence was moved around in violation of procedure during the investigation of the killing, the athlete’s chief defense lawyer says in court.
-March 19, 2014: Steenkamp standing when shot, expert says                   A police ballistics expert testifies that Steenkamp was standing in a toilet cubicle and facing the closed door when she was hit in the right hip by the first of four hollow point bullets fired at her by Pistorius.
-March 24, 2014: Steenkamp feared runner’s temper, court hears          Steenkamp told Pistorius that she was sometimes afraid of him and complained that he had a short temper and was jealous in the weeks before he killed her, according to phone messages revealed at the Olympian’s murder trial.
south-africa-pistorius-trial-March 25, 2014: Pistorius: Trial a ‘tough time’  Pistorius defence lawyer Brian Webber says it is “likely” his client will take the stand to open the defense’s case, adding there’s no specific requirement for him to testify first but it is normal practice. 
-April 6, 2014: Key questions as defence begins                                             A number of important issues are expected to dominate the defense’s case including, significantly, the question of why Pistorius felt he was in danger on the night of the shooting.
-April 7, 2014: Pistorius begins testimony                                                           Pistorius begins his testimony with an apology to Steenkamp’s family. “There hasn’t been a moment since this tragedy happened that I haven’t thought about your family,” he says.
-April 8, 2014: Pistorius talks about girlfriend                                             Continuing to testify at his murder trial, Pistorius says he and Steenkamp sometimes had troubles in their relationship but that they sorted them out, were in love and were planning a life together.
 -April 9, 2014: Pistorius cross-examined                                                          The chief prosecutor urges Pistorius to “take responsibility” for fatally shooting his girlfriend, pushing him to look at a police photograph of Steenkamp’s bloodied head that was displayed in court. Pistorius appears distraught, saying he didn’t have to look because he was at the scene when Steenkamp died.
-April 11, 2014: Pistorius shot girlfriend after argument: prosecutor      Chief prosecutor Gerrie Nel argues before the court that the “only reasonable explanation” for what happened in the pre-dawn hours of Feb. 14 last year was that Pistorius fatally shot Steenkamp as they argued. “That’s not true,” Pistorius replies, again denying accusations that he has lied.                                 -April 14, 2014: Gerrie Nel further cross-examines Pistorius
  • Gerrie Nel pressed Oscar Pistorius on his recollection of objects in his bedroom at the time of the shooting, and claimed the duvet spattered with blood and found on the floor, disproved Pistorius’s account. He insisted: “your version of events is untrue”
  • Pistorius accused the police of moving things around, and contaminating the crime scene.
  • Mr Nel said that Pistorius was changing his defence between saying he thought he was under attack, to saying it was an accident.
  • The trial was temporarily adjourned twice after the athlete started to sob while testifying about the moments before he killed girlfriend Reeva Steenkamp in his home last year.                                                                       -April 15, 2014: Gerrie Nel concludes cross-examination of Pistorius  
  • The prosecutor in the murder trial of Oscar Pistorius ended his five-day cross-examination of the double amputee track athlete, with a stark summary of how he shot his girlfriend, insisting he killed her deliberately after an argument.

“You fired four shots through the door whilst knowing that she was standing behind the door,” said prosecutor Gerrie Nel.

  • Mr Nel added: “She was locked into the bathroom and you armed yourself with the sole purpose of shooting and killing her.”
  • “That is not true,” replied Pistorius.                                                                       -April 15, 2014: Reading Valentine’s card in tears, Pistorius leaves the stand      


Mr. Roux, Pistorius’ defense lawyer began rebuilding his case with the Valentine’s card that Oscar was given by his girlfriend hours before she died. This stance is in a bid to paint the picture of a loving couple vs relationship characterized by fear and abuse as the prosecutor described. The letter reads, ‘Roses are red, violets are blue, I think today is a good day to tell you that I love you.’
 -April 16, 2014: Roger Dixon continues testimony on Ballistics evidence 
  • Forensics expert Roger Dixon continued to testify on ballistics evidence and offered a different sequence for the shots that killed Steenkamp, contradicting a ballistics expert and a pathologist.
  • He also said that Pistorius’s bedroom would have been have been pitch black on the night of the shooting.
  • Sound recordings of a cricket bat, and a gun being fired, are played in court, and Mr Dixon claims there is little difference between the two.
  • Chief Prosecutor Gerrie Nel grilled Mr Dixon, pointing out he is trained as a geologist and has not been part of the police forensics department for several year.
  • The judge agreed to an application to postpone the trial until 5 May, after proceedings on Thursday 17 April.                                                                        -April 17, 2014: Final day in court before Easter break
  • Court began after a warning from Judge Thokozile Masipa about “unruly” behaviour in the room adjacent to the main trial, where spectators are watching it on TV screens.
  • Mr Dixon remained adament that Steenkamp may have been in a different position to what the state testified, when she was shot, and suggested a different sequence on gun shots.
  • Trial is adjourned for two weeks over Easter until 5 May.
Author: Clever Mukori
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Work Cited/References: CBC News Canada




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