In today's account of the second day of "Blade Runner" Oscar Pistorius' bail hearing, provided by Martin Rodgers for Yahoo Sports, defense attorney Barry Roux poked holes in the prosecution's case. There are clear difficulties in proving premeditated murder in the death of Pistorius' girlfriend, Reeva Steenkamp. While typical cases of premeditated murder involve extensive planning, the prosecutor in this case alleges that Pistorius planned to kill Steenkamp while she hid in the toilet room. Pistorius admits he fired the shots that killed Steenkamp but he says he didn't know at first the person he shot was his girlfriend. If this case goes to trial, a jury will decide whether prosecution or defense interpreted the facts most faithfully.
What actually happened?
Prosecution and defense agree that Steenkamp was shot by Pistorius with Pistorius' 9-millimeter pistol. There were four bullet holes fired through the locked toilet door where Steenkamp had gone. Steenkamp was struck by three bullets, according to an Associated Press summary of today's court proceedings.
What is the defense interpretation of the facts?
Pistorius' version, detailed in the New York Times story of Tuesday's hearing, was that he suspected a burglar entered his home. In fear, Pistorius says he walked to the toilet door on the stumps of his legs and fired. Pistorius claims he then put on his prosthetic legs and tried unsuccessfully to kick down the door to rescue Steenkamp. Pistorius states he then used the bloodied cricket bat found in the bedroom to smash open the locked door. He carried Steenkamp downstairs. Pistorius' defense attorney Barry Roux on Tuesday quoted his client in court, according to the New York Times : "I fail to understand how I could be charged with murder, let alone premeditated."
Why is the South African prosecutor charging Pistorius with "premeditated" murder?
Premeditated murder does not require extended preparations, as explained in the Duhaime Law Dictionary. The definition of premeditation in most cases is similar to the judgment of the Supreme Court of California: "The process of premeditation and deliberation does not require any extended period of time. The true test is not the duration of time as much as it is the extent of the reflection. Thoughts may follow each other with great rapidity and cold, calculated judgment may be arrived at quickly."
What is the prosecution version of events?
The prosecutor's version is that Steenkamp fled to the bathroom in fear, that Pistorius put on his prosthetic legs, marched to the toilet where Steenkamp was hiding, and fired the fatal shots through the door. The prosecutor's "premeditation" case is atypical, in that the only planning and deliberation involved occurred in the bedroom. Pistorius allegedly decided to kill Steenkamp just before he "walk(ed) seven meters" across the bedroom with his gun, and fired into the small locked toilet room. "Why would a burglar lock himself into a toilet?" prosecutor Gerrie Nel was quoted as saying in the New York Times article.
Will Pistorius be bailed out of jail?
Pistorius' full affidavit appears in redacted form on the CNN website. In it, he attests he is not a flight risk, is willing to surrender his passports, and will not attempt to influence potential witnesses. "After the shooting I did not attempt to flee," the affidavit reads. Those attestations meet the fundamental requirements of Chapter 9 of South Africa's Criminal Procedure Act, but if the "premeditated" aspect is not struck down, bail could be denied, according to the Cape Times. The bail hearing continuation is set for tomorrow.
Anthony Ventre is a freelance writer and a Yahoo! contributor in news, commentary, and financial writing.
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