The Pistorius Trial

did he purposely kill Reeva Steenkamp?

Introduction:

Oscar Pistorius, 27, is a South African sprint runner who has competed in both the paralympics and the 2012 Olympics. Reeva Steenkamp, 29, was a South African model and a law graduate.

Pistorius and Steenkamp had been dating for 3 months when Steenkamp stayed at Pistorius' house in Pretoria on the fatal night of February 14th 2013.

'Blade Runner' Oscar Pistorius explains how he killed girlfriend in affidavit (update)

What happened the night of the Murder?

The incident occurred in the early hours of February 14th 2013 in the bathroom at Pistorius’ home in Pretoria.

'Pistorius claimed Steenkamp was in bed and there was an intruder, who he shot four times through the bathroom door — then realised he had made a terrible mistake.' (Ryall, 2014)

The prosecution claimed the couple had been arguing and Pistorius knew Steenkamp was inside the bathroom when he intentionally shot her through the door.

Who is involved?

Reeva Steenkamp

The deceased girlfriend of Oscar Pistorius.

Oscar Pistorius

Shot and killed his girlfriend after mistaking her for an intruder.

Samantha Taylor

Ex-Girlfriend of Oscar Pistorius and has described Pistorius' violent tendencies to the court.

Pieter Baba

Witness and Security guard at Pistorius' estate.

Johan Stander

A manager at Pistorius' estate and the first on the scene of the murder.

The Crime Scene:

Steenkamp was in the bathroom at the couples home when Pistorius fired four shots through the bathroom door, three of them hitting Steenkamp. Prosecutors argue that Ms Steenkamp was hiding in the bathroom after an alleged argument with Pistorius.

The scene of the Murder.

The social impact of the Pistorius trial.

The Pistorius trial has sparked a media frenzy across the world. The highly publicised trial is the first in South Africa to have moments in court broadcast on television.

The trial has also put pressure on South Africa's legal system which was already deemed as widely controversial. This is because South African courts do not have a jury to give the opinions of the public like in the united States, there is simply a judge and two assessors.

What forensics were used?

'The trial of Oscar Pistorius has highlighted the use of forensic evidence, as well as the scientists who present it, in the modern criminal courts.' (Robins, 2014)

The trial has called upon ballistics experts, computer forensic teams, forensics experts,crime scene reconstruction experts and forensic pathologists.


Ballistics; determining the angle and direction in which the bullets were fired.

Computer Forensics; Currently working on getting access to Mr. Pistorius and Mrs Steenkamp's phones.

Forensic Experts; Observing and analysing the crime scene in an effort to find missing clues.

Crime Scene Reconstruction; Determining the Scene of the crime and how it may effect the case and incorporating it into the courts evidence.

Forensic Pathologists: Determining the time of Mrs Steenkamps death, what occurred leading up to her death and analysing any abrasions or ligatures present on her body to determine if foul play was present.

Forensic Evidence:

- Forensics expert Johannes Vermeulen told the court that the height of the marks on the door caused by the cricket bat suggest Mr Pistorius was on his stumps at the time. This contradicts pistorius' statement that he was wearing his prosthetic legs.


- The pathologist also said that Ms Steenkamp had eaten within two hours of being killed.

This seems to contradict Mr Pistorius' account - that the couple had been in bed for several hours before he woke. (Peck, 2014)


- The pathologist and ballistics described how the wounds on Ms Steenkamp's body were consistent with bullets being fired through a wooden object such as a door.

Conclusion:

As the Trial continues, the Pistorius case become more and more complicated. With more evidence being discovered everyday it is understandable why the trial has now been extended. Things are currently looking dim for Pistorius after the latest evidence was introduced, a message from Steenkamp admitting that 'I'm scared of you sometimes.' sent three weeks prior to her death. It is clear that the upcoming case, set to continue until the middle of May, is going to be a difficult one for the defence and the prosecution.

Reference List:

- Alexander, H 2014, 'Oscar Pistorius murder trial: March 13 as it happened', 13 Mar, <http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/worldnews/oscar-pistorius/10697092/Oscar-Pistorius-murder-trial-March-13-as-it-happened.html>


-'Blade Runner' Oscar Pistorius explains how he killed girlfriend in affidavit 2013, YouTube video, MANewsDirect, <http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2QZJ7CZqOX4>


- Peck, T 2014, 'Oscar Pistorius murder trial: Athlete repeatedly sick as court hears 'graphic details' of Reeva Steenkamp's post-mortem',The Independant, 10 March, <http://www.independent.co.uk/news/world/africa/oscar-pistorius-trial-athlete-repeatedly-vomits-as-court-hears-graphic-details-of-reeva-steenkamps-autopsy-9181257.html>


- Robins, J 2014, 'Oscar Pistorius trial: a test case for South African justice', The Justice Gap, March, <http://thejusticegap.com/2014/03/oscar-pistorius-trial-test-case-south-african-justice/>


- Ryall, J 2014, 'Oscar Pistorius trial: What really happened?', news.com, 3 March, <http://www.news.com.au/world/oscar-pistorius-trial-what-really-happened/story-fndir2ev-1226843963931>