Winnipeg Free Press - PRINT EDITION

Pistorius sobs, shakes in court

Olympian charged with murder granted bail

  • Print

JOHANNESBURG -- Although South African athlete Oscar Pistorius was released from custody on bail Friday, analysts say he faces significant hurdles in trying to beat murder charges for his girlfriend's shooting death.

Chief Magistrate Desmond Nair, who ruled Pistorius was not a flight risk and could be released on C$110,079 bail, said he had difficulties with "improbabilities" in Pistorius' account of what happened at his Pretoria home in the early hours of Valentine's Day.

Pistorius, the double-amputee runner who used carbon-fibre legs to compete in last year's London Olympics, is accused of premeditated murder in the fatal shooting of Reeva Steenkamp, 29. The prosecution believes the couple argued and she fled, terrified, and locked herself in the bathroom, where he shot her.

The 26-year-old Pistorius insists he mistook Steenkamp for a burglar, shooting her through a wooden door in the bathroom. Authorities said she suffered wounds to her head and arm.

Nair said Friday he found it difficult to understand why Pistorius, believing there was an intruder, didn't take steps to make sure he knew where his girlfriend was before opening fire. The chief magistrate also said he had difficulties understanding why Pistorius, who said in an affidavit he'd felt "vulnerable" without his prosthetic legs, would have immediately walked into a dangerous situation, thinking the burglar was in the toilet near his bedroom.

Legal experts said other factors that the athlete's defence team can expect to face at trial include physical evidence such as analysis of a cricket bat with blood splatters Pistorius says he used to break down the door to the toilet after the shooting and accounts from prosecution witnesses other than those whose testimony was effectively challenged during the bail hearing.

As he waited for Nair's ruling, Pistorius trembled and sobbed, his body shaking. He has appeared gaunt, pale and thin during the four-day hearing, often weeping.

Defence attorney Barry Roux argued prosecutors should have charged Pistorius with a less serious offence of culpable homicide, not premeditated murder, which carries a life sentence. Nair, however, did not downgrade the charge.

Prosecutor Gerrie Nel strongly opposed bail, accusing Pistorius of showing no remorse for killing someone, and just wanting to go back to his life as a famous athlete.

In announcing his decision, Nair said while the athlete had an undisputed history of aggressive behaviour, the state failed to show he was likely to commit violence or interfere with state witnesses if released.

Pistorius' supporters shouted "Yes!" when Nair made his decision after a nearly two-hour explanation of his ruling to a packed courtroom.

Sharon Steenkamp, Reeva's cousin, said the family wouldn't be watching the bail decision and hadn't been following the hearing.

"It doesn't make any difference to the fact that we are without Reeva," she told The Associated Press.

-- Los Angeles Times with files from AP

 

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition February 23, 2013 A25

Fact Check

Fact Check

Have you found an error, or know of something we’ve missed in one of our stories?
Please use the form below and let us know.

* Required
  • Please post the headline of the story or the title of the video with the error.

  • Please post exactly what was wrong with the story.

  • Please indicate your source for the correct information.

  • Yes

    No

  • This will only be used to contact you if we have a question about your submission, it will not be used to identify you or be published.

  • Cancel

Having problems with the form?

Contact Us Directly
  • Print

You can comment on most stories on winnipegfreepress.com. You can also agree or disagree with other comments. All you need to do is be a Winnipeg Free Press print or e-edition subscriber to join the conversation and give your feedback.

You can comment on most stories on winnipegfreepress.com. You can also agree or disagree with other comments. All you need to do is be a Winnipeg Free Press print or e-edition subscriber to join the conversation and give your feedback.

Have Your Say

New to commenting? Check out our Frequently Asked Questions.

Have Your Say

Comments are open to Winnipeg Free Press print or e-edition subscribers only. why?

Have Your Say

Comments are open to Winnipeg Free Press Subscribers only. why?

The Winnipeg Free Press does not necessarily endorse any of the views posted. By submitting your comment, you agree to our Terms and Conditions. These terms were revised effective April 16, 2010.

letters

Make text: Larger | Smaller

LATEST VIDEO

Winnipeg Cheapskate: Preparing for Boxing Day

View more like this

Photo Store Gallery

  • Winnipeg’s best friend the dragon fly takes a break at English Gardens in Assiniboine Park Wednesday- A dragon fly can eat  food equal to its own weight in 30 minutes-Standup photo- June 13, 2012   (JOE BRYKSA / WINNIPEG FREE PRESS)
  • Two Canadian geese perch themselves for a perfect view looking at the surroundings from the top of a railway bridge near Lombard Ave and Waterfront Drive in downtown Winnipeg- Standup photo- May 01, 2012   (JOE BRYKSA / WINNIPEG FREE PRESS)

View More Gallery Photos

Poll

What's your take on the Jets so far this season?

View Results

View Related Story

Ads by Google