The Large Chasm between What Oscar and the Judge Said and What They Did
by Rob Roman
Today Oscar Pistorius was sentenced to 5 years in prison and carted off to jail. He also received a 3 year suspended sentence for other related firearms charges. He could have gotten from zero prison time up to fifteen years in prison. The victim’s relatives were relieved that the trial has concluded and satisfied that he received some jail time. Oscar’s relatives were also happy the ordeal is over, saying Oscar would serve his penance and would use his time wisely and try to rehabilitate himself. Osc\ar can be seen in a photo touching hands with his family members. He took his sentence stoically and without emotion.
It was said that Oscar could do as little as 1/6 of the sentence, or 10 months, and then the sentence could be converted to house arrest. It was also said that he could be up for parole after serving half the sentence or 2.5 years. We said earlier that 2 full years in prison would be the absolute minimum acceptable, given that the Judge evidently believes Oscar’s impossible story and acknowledging that Oscar Pistorius is a legend and a story of the triumph of a disabled person that South Africa would find very difficult to let go of. The Paralympic committee did announce shortly after the sentence, however, that Oscar would be suspended from competition for the full five year sentence, regardless of any possible parole.
Judge Masipa said she endeavored to strike a balance between mercy and retribution. What was really interesting is what she said about the crime, though. She said that this case was different than most negligence cases, because Oscar knew “someone was behind the door” and his intent “was to shoot the intruder”. She also said that in the small confines of the tiny toilet room, there was no place for the person to go. She also explained that Oscar was well trained in the use of firearms, and that placed a high degree of responsibility on him. She expressed that it was a high degree of negligence. Judge Masipa basically said everything we said about the killing in an earlier article, only we pointed out that such conduct amounts to Dolus Eventualis. Oscar Pistorius knew there was a high probability of serious injury or death of the person behind the door, yet he negligently continued in his conduct.
How is this culpable homicide or manslaughter? Can you have culpable homicide with a very high degree of negligence compared to others? Say you are driving down a highway at a high rate of speed. Suddenly, a person attempts to cross the road. You cannot react in time and you run him over, killing him. Most likely, you will not be charged with a crime. You did not act negligently. The fault is entirely the victim’s. Now say you are driving down that same highway and there’s a person up ahead, but on the side of the road. You decide to text a message or fiddle with your radio or adjust your makeup. You swerve off the road, striking and killing the person. Now, if your negligence can be proven, you would be looking at a charge of manslaughter or culpable homicide.
In both cases above, there was no intent to kill. There is usually no intent to kill in a culpable homicide. How can judge Masipa say that Oscar Pistorius knew or should have known that the person behind the door would be seriously injured or killed and yet say there was no intent? It’s just stunning, actually. We are getting back to the explanation that not only does Judge Masipa believe Oscar’s impossible story, but she also believes he did not intend to fire the gun. She believes that he was in a high degree of fear and when he heard a noise in the toilet room, he automatically started firing, as part of a startle response. That’s two big wins for the defense. What the defense claimed happened was not the truth, nor was the finding of culpable homicide. This is nothing more than wishful thinking, or minimizing on the part of the defense and the Judge.
Here is the usual definition of culpable homicide (manslaughter) in South Africa:
“Culpable homicide” has been defined (in South African law) simply as “the unlawful negligent killing of a human being”.
The definition goes on to say that there’s a lot of “wiggle room” within that definition.
Culpable homicide, like murder is a form of unlawful killing. The crucial difference, however, is that if a person kills intentionally it is murder, whereas if he or she kills negligently it is culpable homicide.
Previously, South African case law took the view that a person who kills intentionally, but in mitigating circumstances, is guilty of culpable homicide rather than murder. For example, where a man uses excessive force to defend himself from attack and kills his assailant, this would be culpable homicide. ** However, later decisions by the Appellate Division strongly support the trend towards excluding a verdict of culpable homicide where intent to kill is proved **.
So, where there is a proven intent to kill, just as Judge Masipa describes during the sentencing, that is murder.
Here is what Judge Masipa is exactly describing in her words during the sentencing:
“Intent in the form of dolus eventualis or legal intention, which is present when the perpetrator objectively foresees the possibility of his act causing death and persists regardless of the consequences, suffices to find someone guilty of murder.
The South African Court of Appeal held that mens rea (a guilty mind or intent) in the form of dolus eventualis is an elastic concept. It can range from bordering on negligence (culpa) on the one hand to dolus directus on the other. However, the test always remains whether the accused person subjectively foresaw the possibility of the death of the deceased and associated himself therewith.
This was hardly bordering on negligence, but as the judge said, involved extraordinary negligence, one would suppose as a substitute for intent.
It looks more like an effort to bring the charge down as low as possible, so there could still be a meaningful yet light sentence. Had the charge been murder by way of Dolus Eventualis (negligently continuing in a conduct in which you know that serious injury or death could result), the minimum possible sentence would have been quite a long prison term. This is because what the judge described is exactly Dolus Eventualis or 2nd degree murder. How could it not be? It must be due to the startle response, a startle response that a well-trained athlete and a well-trained handler of firearms would never have. Judge Masipa has taken Oscar Pistorius completely at his word, though there are a myriad of reasons not to do so.
Let’s go back to an example from our earlier article. A man likes to go off road in his 4×4 monster truck and run over greenhouses. He knows that sometimes there are people working in these green houses. If he keeps on doing this, he will eventually kill a person working inside a greenhouse. Nevertheless, he continues to run over and smash greenhouses. If one day there just happens to be a person inside a greenhouse and a death were to occur, this would be second degree murder via Dolus Eventualis.
Let’s now take it further. The man sees a greenhouse and he sees a man working inside the greenhouse. It’s a very small greenhouse, and the man inside has nowhere to go or retreat to. The man with the 4×4 goes ahead and runs over him anyways, and the worker is killed. Will monster truck guy say that his foot hit the gas by mistake and it was an accident? He can try, but a look at his past record will reveal his behaviors and attitude. Can we then say that this was just an accident with an extraordinary amount of negligence? I don’t think we can say that.
If we take Oscar at his word, then this was a startle response and Oscar fired uncontrollably upon hearing something move in the toilet room. If this was so, wouldn’t we see a bullet pattern that’s something random like this?:
Or wouldn’t we see a more random pattern like this?:
Yet, what we do have is a bullet pattern like this:
Does that look uncontrolled or non-purposeful to you? Is this the pattern of a startle response? We don’t think so. It’s wishful thinking.
This is an arc going to Oscar’s left and down. Which way did the “person behind the door” fall? To Oscar’s left and down. That’s really quite a coincidence, folks.
Is it wishful thinking on behalf of the elite of South Africa, or on behalf of a great many citizens who do not want the great story and legend of Oscar Pistorius to die? This is a focal point of the pride of South Africa we are talking about here. I doubt that fact escaped the Judge’s attention. Five years will likely cover his years of peak performance. So, in that, and in the sponsorships and fortune he’s lost, it is a severe punishment after all. There is still a chance of a revival and dramatic come-back, and the verdict will stand unless challenged by the prosecution. This verdict states for all time that this was a tragic accident, and Oscar, on completion of his term, may be said to be fully rehabilitated. Yet, the source of the problem, which is Oscar’s really bad and childish behavior, may never be addressed.
Let’s not forget that these were 9mm “black talon” hollow-point bullets, and Oscar knew full well what they could do. He even once referred to them as “Zombie Stoppers”, meaning they were so powerful and deadly, they could even kill a person who is already dead. According to the coroner, each and every one of the three out of four bullets that struck Reeva Steenkamp was fatal all on it’s own.
What Oscar said was not the truth, what Oscar did was the truth.
Ironically, what Judge Masipa said was the truth, but what she did was notthe truth.
Let’s put it in terms we all can understand (with examples).
“Dumbass Eventualis” – If you are a gun owner, and you have read up on firearms and have had
classes and possibly tests, you are an educated gun owner. You know what a gun can do and you
know what can happen if you fire a weapon at a human being. Especially, you know what a hollow point bullet can do to a human being. This bullet is made to expand, fragment, and mushroom out so it will not exit the body, but will bounce inside the body and tear through vital organs, causing much more damage and bloodshed.
If you own a lethal weapon and you are foolish, hot-headed, careless and reckless, if you are just another idiot with a gun, then you are a dumbass and eventually you are going to kill an unarmed, innocent person. You are a bad accident waiting to happen. You are, for all intents and purposes, a “Dumbass Eventualis”.
Recent examples are:
-Florida’s Michael Dunn, a guy who fired 10 shots into a car full of teenagers because he
didn’t like their loud music.
-Florida’s Adele Bing who heard a loud knock on her door and open-fired through the door, killing her own
daughter carrying Adele’s grandaughter in her arms (Well, she thought it was someone else!)
– Tennessee bar owner Chris Ferrell, who shot a Country Music singer to death for smoking in a non-smoking area, giving ‘rules strictly enforced’ a whole new meaning.
– Georgia’s Philip Sailors, who shot a man to death while backing out of Sailor’s driveway that he turned into by mistake. It was a GPS mistake. Also, some news and radio talk shows had been going on and on at the time talking about how ya betta watch out, the ‘govmint is coming to grab all yall’s gunz’.
-Maine’s James Pak, who shot and killed his tenants, a 19 year-old man and his 18 year-old girlfriend for
parking in the wrong spot during a snow storm. Where were the police, you ask? They had just left the property.
-South Africa’s very own Oscar Pistorius, who heard a noise in the toilet room and fired four
Times through the closed door, killing his model girlfriend.
Yes, my friends, these are all prime examples of “Dumbass Eventualis”.
These people are all innocent, unarmed people shot to death by armed aggressors.
Now, let’s talk about “Dolus Eventualis”.
One of the very first words a criminal law student will hear is the Latin “Mens Rea”. Mens Rea – means having a guilty mind. Many crimes will consist of the Actus Reus, or the criminal act and the Mens Rea, or criminal mind. Both must be in play for a defendant to be culpable or responsible for the crime.
Criminal Act + Criminal Mind = Crime
Why? I could be sky diving and my parachute doesn’t open. I fall right into you and kill you.
The Actus Reas , or the criminal act is that I have caused your death. But there is no Mens
Rea, since I did not intend to kill you, it was an accident, I had no guilty mind.
So, very quickly in the law, people needed to distinguish between the crime committed, and the
intent and the state of mind of the person committing the crime, to decide guilt or the degree
of guilt of that person. So law is making a distinction between the criminal act and the intent. The intent of the defendant must often be proven and this often goes to the state of mind of the defendant at the time of the crime.
Criminal Mind = Actual Intent + State of Mind
Was the defendant:
-impaired by a substance?
-insane or unable distinguish between right and wrong at the time of the crime?
-under duress (forced to do the crime or under extreme emotional disturbance)?
South African law comes from a mixture of Roman and English common law, German common law, and general European or what is called “mainland” common law. So the criminal act and the criminal mind must be proven. This is where pre-planning (premeditation), sudden heat of passion, self-defense, under duress, and temporary insanity come into play. The state of mind of the defendant must be proven and the true intent discovered, before a court can determine guilt or the degree of guilt.
South African law then divides the intent of the defendant into 3 main categories. These are called:
Dolus Directus- means a direct intention. The defendant is proven to have had a direct
intention to commit a murder, even if the opportunity or chance of committing the murder is very small. (Example: OJ Simpson brings a very sharp knife, a pair of Arliss extra large gloves given to him by his ex-wife, and a dark knit cap to his ex-wife’s house just after sunset. Seems like he had a direct intent to kill said ex-wife)
This is our equivalent of Premeditation.
Dolus Indirectus – means an indirect intent. The defendant may not have set out to commit a murder, but the defendant participated in a felony where it was
foreseeable that a participant, an innocent, or a police officer, etc. could be murdered. (Example: “Doug”and his friend, Eric, go to rob a store, they just want the money, but hey, nobody better get in their way. During the robbery, Eric shoots and kills a woman who witnessed the robbery, and the store owner shoots and kills Eric. Now, Doug will be charged with the robbery, the killing of the store owner, and the killing of Eric.)
This is our equivalent of Felony murder.
Dolus Eventualis – forseeable intent. Here the defendant does not mean to commit
a murder, but is proven to know that it was foreseeable that his or her acts could result in a
death and the defendant recklessly continues anyways.
(Example: Doug enjoys driving his vehicle through large glass greenhouses. He knows people work inside these greenhouses and that if he doesn’t stop, he may kill somebody. Doug keeps driving into greenhouses. This time he has killed Bumptious Q., Bangwhistle III, who was working inside the greenhouse. Doug is now under arrest for murder via Dolus Eventualis.
This is our equivalent of 2nd degree murder.
So it’s generally agreed upon that Oscar Pistorius in no way pre-planned or premeditated the
killing of Reeva Steenkamp. No Dolus Directus.
Pistorius lawfully owned a firearm and was lawfully protecting himself and others in his home. There was no felony that could foreseeably cause a murder. Pistorius did not commit Felony murder. No Dolus Indirectus.
Which leaves us with Dolus Evantualis. Did Pistorius know that his actions could foreseeably
lead to a death? If so, did he recklessly go ahead and do these actions anyways? The prosecution says yes, the defense says no.
Judge Masipa, if I am reading her decision correctly, is saying that she does not believe Oscar
Pistorius could forsee that his actions could lead to a death. He did not foresee that his
actions could lead to the death of Reeva Steenkamp, because his story that he folllowed the
sound of a home invader and neglected to check that Reeva was still in the bedroom could
possibly reasonably be true.
Judge Marsipa does not believe Oscar could foresee that his actions could lead to the death of
the intruder, because his disability and inability to flee combined with his heightened sense
of fear of attack caused him to react suddenly and impulsively, firing on reflex without
realizing he could cause a death.
This is understandable and this is what we hear in many cases of civilians as well as police,
however well trained in the use of firearms, will fire multiple times under fear and many times
will not remember firing so many times.
We saw this in the case of Florida’s Michael Dunn, who fired 10 shots but remembered just firing only 4. Also in the case of Missouri Police Officer, Darren Wilson, who fired 10 times at Big Mike Brown. Most likely, he does not remember firing so many shots and will report some tunnel vision and some blurring of events.
Oscar said he did not realize he had fired four times. He did not think Reeva was in the
bathroom. He heard a noise in the toilet room, but he was sure that an intruder was inside.
This is not self-defense by South African gun laws (You must know who or what your target is.
You must identify your target prior to firing) and by South African law (It’s not enough for an
intruder to be present in your home, the person must be an imminent threat to your life in
order to justify the use of deadly force.) A person hiding or cowering in a tiny, enclosed
toilet room is not yet an imminent threat.
An unjustifiable, but accidental killing is called culpable homicide – the defendant, without
intent, recklessly caused the death of another human being. This is our equivalent of
The killing is definitely not justified by mistake or by self-defense. At the very least it is
Manslaughter – Reckless, negligent, no intent – Culpable homicide
Self-Defense – Justified, must be imminent danger – Non Culpable homicide
The prosecution does not see it this way. This is letting Oscar Pistorius off the hook too
easily, like has always happened before. According to Gerrie Nel, Oscar should have foreseen
that he could cause Reeva’s death because he should have known for sure that she was not the
one in the bathroom, either by some way making sure she was present in the bedroom or making
sure of who was in the toilet room before firing.
Gerrie Nel sees Oscar’s story as impossible and unbelievable, indicating 2nd degree murder.
Further, even admitting Oscar’s story that he thought it was an intruder, it’s still Dolus
Eventualis or 2nd degree murder because Oscar should have forseen that firing 4 hollow-point
rounds into a tiny toilet room, believing there was someone inside, with no place to hide,
could lead to the death of an individual.
Some people are saying that the Judge’s decision is based entirely on Oscar’s belief that Reeva
was not in the toilet room. Therefore, he could have never forseen he would cause Reeva’s
death. I believe the judge is smarter than that and that she reasoned on both the possibility it was
Reeva and the possibility it was an intruder.
Having been defenders of Jodi Arias in the Arizona, USA case, Amanda and I are both very
sensitive to what the public opinion against Pistorius has been. We know that the media and public opinion has been heavily anti-Oscar and pro-prosecution. We also are aware that the police were very agressive in this case and that the prosecutor was very zealous and relentless in his pursuit of Mr. Pistorius on the stand and in the trial generally. We still feel this was a Valentine’s
Day argument leading to violence and death, not a home-defense accident.
Now, let’s look at what Oscar’s story really looks like, something we haven’t really seen
before. This is oscar’s story as testified to and as it must be.
1) Oscar wakes up around 3:00 AM
2) Reeva is either up or wakes up
3) She asks him if he can’t sleep
4) This is the last time he sees, hears, touches Reeva
5) Oscar gets up and brings in two fans from the balcony
(See “Your heart vs the Verdict” for why we feel this is a lie.)
Also, the idea that Oscar gets into this fan project without Reeva asking if she could help him
in any way, is definitely not like Reeva.
6) He’s distracted by the noise of the fans, etc.
7) Oscar brings the fans inside, closes the blinds
and the curtains and throws Reeva’s jeans over the
blue light of the stereo. Now the room is pitch black.
8) At the same time, Reeva gets up, goes to the bathroom
with her cell phone. She does not turn on the lights, does not contact Oscar, and loudly slides open the large
9) This must have happened if we accept Oscar’s story as true.
10) Upon hearing the window loudly slide open, Oscar does not check to see Reeva in the
bedroom or call out to her. She was awake less than a minute before, according to Oscar,
but he does not try to establish contact with her. He hears that noise and he has tunnel
vision from then on. This is the giant error that Judge Masipa sees as being possibly
11) Now Reeva is in the toilet or on her way to the toilet. Oscar is on his stumps softly
telling ‘bedroom Reeva’ to get down and call the police.
Although, in another version, he screams back for Reeva to call the police right before he
fires. In the first version, he softly tells Reeva to get down and call the police. Here, only
‘bedroom Reeva’ can hear him, and not ‘bathroom Reeva’, explaining why she did not call the
police. In the other version, both a potential ‘bedroom Reeva’ and a ‘bathroom Reeva’ can hear
him yell out for her to call the police, but neither of them call the police because ‘bathroom
Reeva’ is immediately shot to death.
12) Oscar walks down the hallway on his stumps, I presume making a distinct sound. Reeva hears
this and does not try and contact him?
13) She goes in the toilet room and closes the door and Oscar hears the door close. He calls
out for the intruder to “get the f*ck out of my house”. He yells this twice.
14) Maybe at this stage Reeva realizes that something is wrong, so she locks the door and
listens at the door. But she also pulls the key out of the door lock!
14.5) Oscar, in one version, now yells out for Reeva to call the police, and still Reeva does
nothing to alert Oscar that she is in the toilet and she does not call anyone.
15) Oscar hears a noise inside the toilet room, panics, and the gun fires four times.
16) For Oscar’s account to be true, Reeva never makes a sound as a bullet crashes into her hip
(fatal injury), her shoulder, her finger and her skull (fatal injury). She can make no
identifying sound because, according to Oscar’s story, he does not realize it was Reeva until
he gets back to the bedroom. Yet he must know he shot someone, because the person fell over and
against the toilet.
17) So having just fired four shots and hearing someone fall (granted, Oscar claims the shots
deafened him), he now notices the door is locked. Oscar turns his back on the danger to go back
to the bedroom. He then realizes that Reeva is not there and it could be Reeva in the toilet
This is when all the agonized crying for help and screaming happen, according to Oscar.
18) Oscar goes back to the toilet room with his prosthetics and tries to kick down the door
then gets the cricket bat.
19) All the screaming arguing crying, blood curdling screams, man and woman’s voices, and
Oscar’s cries for help were all only coming from Oscar and they all occurred at this time.
20) After breaking down the door, more cries and screams are heard and they are all Oscar until
he makes his first phone call at 3:19 AM.
I will leave it up to you if you believe that this story is possibly reasonably true. The
Defense and Judge Masipa feel that it is. Gunshots are extremely loud. To try to explain that no witnesses heard the gunshots but they all heard the door being broken with the cricket bat is hard to believe.
If you do not believe that this story can be possibly reasonably true, then the story is false
and Oscar knowingly fired through the door at Reeva Steenkamp, most likely in anger. This is
Dolus Eventualis or 2nd degree murder. Unlike the explanations of some people who don’t understand the law, the prosecution does not need to have a correct theory or a story that is exactly true.
If Oscar’s story, the Defense story, can not be seen to be possibly, reasonably true, then he’s
lying, and he’s guilty of knowingly causing Reeva Steenkamp’s death. This is what guilt beyond
a reasonable doubt means.
If you side with the judge on part one, we move on to part two. Taking Oscar’s story as
truthful, did he reasonably forsee that he could cause the death of whomever was inside the
toilet room and then recklessly proceed and go ahead with his actions anyways?
The Judge is saying that Oscar did not attempt to make contact with the intruder. He heard a
sound inside the toilet room, he panicked, he responded to the noise, not to a person, and the
gun started firing. In this way, Oscar did not foresee that he would cause the death of
whomever, if anybody, was inside the toilet room.
This can be seen as a fair judgement if you overlook all of Oscar Pistorius’ past and consider
him not as a Paralympic Champion or Olympic Runner, but as the average double amputee in the
middle of the night. If you agree, then that’s the end of the case.
I suppose the judge cited various facts in coming to this decision. Namely Oscar’s disability,
his inability to flee (though he claimed he could put on his prosthetics in 30 seconds), his
innate feelings of being attacked, treated unfairly, and preyed uopn, his startle response and
extreme fear, his previous experiences with crime and fearful situations in the past when he
thought an intruder was present, his tunnel vision when responding to noises at night, and his
impulsivity, and foolish recklessness with firearms in the past, confirmed by the prosecution.
The Prosecution would cite that Oscar seemed to shoot in an arc across the toilet door, moving
the gun as ther target moved, rather than just random firing, his experience with handling and
using firearms and his practice on the range, the mandatory training in South Africa for a gun
owner which states you should never fire on a target or person without positively identifying
South African law states that you should not use deadly force unless faced with an
imminent threat of serious injury or death, that a person possibly inside the house is not yet
an imminent threat, that Oscar’s past responses have been responses of aggression and heading
towards the danger, not fear and panic, that his past recklessness with guns should have taught
him to be more careful, that Oscar had faced his disability and overcame his difficulties, that
he did have the opportunity to flee or avoid conflict.
Oscar also was Not alone. Especially since he was handicapped, you would expect him to enlist
the help of his partner, by contacting Reeva, or at least making sure she was safe in the
bedroom. He is afraid of the danger but makes no effort to make contact with whoever is in the
toilet room or to give them a warning. He doesn’t call security in the beginning, he claims he
didn’t set his home alarm. If he was so paranoid and fearful of intruders, you think he would
set the alarm, yet, if he did set it, then he’s lying and is guilty anyways because the alarm
would have gone off if Reeva went downstairs for a snack or if an intruder opened the window. Of
course, Oscar has explanations or excuses for all these things.
If you side with the prosecution, then this case is not over for you.
Is South Africa prepared to dismantle the legendary myth of Oscar Pistorius? I think they would
prefer to avoid this. It seems like Oscar would have a difficult time coming back in sports
after not only this shooting incident, but other really bad behaviors that were covered up for
him in a seemingly organized manner.
Hopefully Judge Masipa will have the fortitude to make Oscar have to pay for his crimes
with a little prison time. Then it’s up to South Africans whether they want to rejuvenate their
legend. We will see whether they are willing to forgive, and how much they are willing to
Opposing viewpoints are welcome. Please comment.
You can also comment on Facebook at “Spotlight on law”
How are the majority of people in South Africa and the world responding to the verdict in the Oscar Pistorius case? The majority of people do have a strong feeling that Oscar Pistorius knew it was his girlfriend, Reeva Steenkamp, standing behind the door. When Oscar fired 4, 9 mm black talon bullets from his Parabellum semi-automatic handgun into the door of a small locked toilet door, did he really think it was an intruder?
Knowing in your heart something happened and proving it are two different things, as the Steenkamp family, the prosecution, and the majority of onlookers are starting to find out. Beyond a reasonable doubt is a very high hill. Why do people feel like they do, and why did the judge make the decision she made? Let’s take a look inside the case.
Many Charges Dropped
The Oscar Pistorius murder trial has ended with a finding of culpable homicide and one count of illegally discharging a firearm at a public restaurant. This seems like a fair verdict, as it seems to be very difficult to prove that Pistorius knowingly chased after and shot his girlfriend to death on Valentine’s Eve 2013.
He was found guilty of the equivalent of manslaughter, because he acted negligently in shooting 4 times through a toilet room door without knowing who, if anyone was inside. Many people were sure that this was a heat of passion murder where Oscar lost his temper and snapped. There is good reason for that belief. Not guilty of 2nd degree murder sometimes means it just could not be proven beyond a reasonable doubt, not that it didn’t happen.
Why does this feel wrong?
Why are so many people, a majority,really, convinced that Oscar Pistorius did indeed lose control and try to shoot his girlfriend Reeva Steenkamp? This has to do with circumstantial evidence. You can say there is a reasonable explanation for almost any single piece of circumstantial evidence. You can even try to eliminate some of that evidence, as the Judge did, but when you tie it all together, it becomes very compelling.
As for the lesser charges, Judge Masipa ruled that Oscar could not be found guilty of illegally keeping ammunition, because his father claimed it was his, case closed. For the charge of firing a gun through a sunroof while riding with his ex-girlfriend, Samantha Taylor, and his friend, Daren Fresco, the finding is more convoluted. Samantha and Daren describe the same story of Oscar firing the weapon through the sunroof. As the two accounts varied in small details, as any two accounts will, the judge ruled that the witnesses accounts could not be
relied upon. What? For the claim Oscar fired a weapon under the table at a crowded outdoor restaurant, there was no getting out of that one.
The Story that could not be
Oscar’s story: Imagine for a moment that you did lose control, lost your temper in an argument and went after your partner with a firearm. Now imagine you lived in Oscar’s home and your partner ended up shot dead in the bathroom. You need to come up with a story. What would the story be? There’s not a whole lot of options. It will have to be a burglar. The simple question is how are you going to explain not knowing that it was your partner, and not a burglar, in the bathroom locked in the toilet room.?
You need an excuse that would 1) Prevent you from being next to your partner when you heard the noise. 2) Stop you from noticing what your partner is doing 3) Stop you from hearing your partner go off to the toilet 4) Stop you from seeing you partner.
The fan story does all these things. He is distracted, he is facing away from his partner, his hearing is affected by the fan and outside noises, he is going to the balcony, but he doesn’t go out onto the balcony. Finally, he CLOSES the curtains and the blinds, to make the room as dark as possible.
This is how Oscar will turn and get his gun from under the bed without ever seeing Reeva in that small bedroom, a story almost impossible to believe. This is where the LED lights of the stereo come into play. Who ever mentioned the LED lights? Who even cares about that? Oscar does. Only Oscar. How would he remember this? This is because he realizes that with that blue light from the stereo, the prosecution will say it was not pitch dark in the bedroom. So Oscar
was sure to add this unneeded detail about throwing the jeans over the stereo. Only Oscar knows you can see quite well in the dark with the blue lights of the stereo on. He was so concerned about that that he adds the jeans over the stereo to his story. This along with him closing the curtains and the blinds before failing to see Reeva seals the deal. This story is a complete fraud.
Oscar cleverly adds the part where as he is arising to “get the fan”. According to him, Reeva asks him if he’s having trouble sleeping. How convenient, as this is intended to show he had known for sure she was in bed when he got up to “get the fan”.
Further, there already was a fan inside the bedroom. There was one for the balcony and one for the bedroom. The fan in the bedroom was being used. There was no usual place for the second fan to be plugged in. In other words, there is no need to bring a second fan into the room and it hadn’t been done in the past. The whole fan story is designed to get Oscar away from the bed and to get the door to the balcony open as a distraction and so Oscar’s hearing would be
affected by the fan and other outside noises. The fan story was made up, there is no need to get a fan. Oscar never went to get that fan.
Problems with the prosecution and the defense
Police initially investigating an accident instead of a murder, weren’t as careful to preserve the scene in photos. They moved the fan because it blocked access to the balcony door, etc. before they took photos. There was also a missing extension cord. Had they preserved the scene in photos properly, the case would have been a lock for guilty M2.
If Oscar had nothing to hide he would have just freely testified to his story rather than being so defensive and evasive and a bad witness as the judge said he was. It seems he was very worried about getting tripped up in his own story. Oscar did think of a story very quickly after firing a loaded weapon in a crowded restaurant. His first though after “Is anybody hurt?”. was followed instantaneously by “How do I get out of this?”. His answer was to convince his friend, Daren Fresco, to take the rap. This is the only gun charge Oscar was convicted of.
Oscar’s Fan story is a simple story that explains how he didn’t notice Reeva wasn’t in the bedroom. It’s really the only story he could have thought up. It covers all the bases.
Oscar implores, the Judge ignores
The Judge wants to ignore two giant pieces of information. 1) There was an argument and it was a prolonged argument, heard by multiple independent witnesses. If in your exclusive neighborhood, you had a loud and prolonged argument, and your neighbor was being tried for murder that happened that same night, wouldn’t you come forward and tell authorities that you were the one having a loud and prolonged argument and not Oscar? I think you would. But no one came forward.
One person cannot have an argument. Oscar may have cried out in a high pitched voice, but this cannot be two people arguing, this is not a woman’s blood curdling scream.
The argument that everyone heard but never was
There was loud arguing heard. One witness heard only the man’s loud, angry voice. In the intervals, whoever was arguing back could not be heard. There was screaming heard before, not after the gunshots. There was screaming that ended with the last gunshot. This was all testified to in court. This should not be ignored by the judge. The account that there was no screaming until after the gunshots, and that the only shots heard with screaming were the in between the shots and the sounds of the cricket bat breaking down the door just isn’t true.
A woman’s blood curdling screams were heard, gunshots were heard, Oscar’s distressed voice was heard, and the banging down of the door with the bat were heard. Oscar’s calls for help were heard. All these were heard. The idea that all these sounds were a one-man show by Oscar Pistorius is a good defense play, but really is just laughable.
Judge Masipa chose to believe the closest neighbors of Oscar’s, and ignored the other witnesses.
Oscar’s pain was his gain
Oscar shows genuine pain and remorse. This in no way means that this must be an accident. Oscar’s pain and remorse are 100% real. He really is sickened by this event and he’s traumatized. He’s traumatized and remorseful because he scared his girlfriend Reeva Steenkamp into the toilet room and then fired 4 shots through the door.
The meal that never happened
Oscar claims they were both in bed asleep by 10:00 pm. Stomach Food contents at autopsy suggest that the victim most likely had a meal around 1:00 AM. Time of death was likely around 3:15 AM. Can someone eat and still have undigested food in their stomach 6 hours later? It’s possible, but highly unlikely. Two hours would be the most common time frame. Oscar claims they ate around 7:00 and were in bed sleeping between 9:00 and 10:00. It appears as if Oscar wanted to deny any argument by suggesting the improbable scenario that they were both peacefully sleeping before anyone heard any screaming.
Judge Masipa reasoned that they could have ate at 7:00 PM and then Reeva could have woken up around 1:00AM and unknown to Oscar, could have snuck downstairs for a sniketty snack. She could have, but is that reasonable?
Witnesses saw the toilet room light on before the shots were heard. Reeva had all her things packed, she was wearing shorts, only her jeans were out and she locked herself into the toilet room with her cell phone. All this contradicts Oscar’s story. Singular strands of circumstantial evidence in isolation can be explained away, but spun together they can make a rope strong enough to hang a person with.
Carrying the body and the finger in the mouth
While removing the body from the cramped toilet room to the bathroom may be a good idea, who would pick up the body and carry her down the stairs? Oscar claims he was told not to wait for an ambulance and to bring her to the hospital? Doesn’t that risk further injury? Who would do something like that? I think he should have waited for help before moving Reeva. This is a good way to tamper with evidence of what happened. Really, your only saving 30 seconds or a minute. As for Oscar putting his fingers in Reeva’s mouth, this would alert him if by some miracle she happened to still be alive. He could stop her before she said something. I don’t believe she died in his arms, I believe she died almost instantly in the bathroom and Oscar knew it.
Oscar tried to buy time by preventing security guards from coming to his home. He did not call an ambulance or emergency services. When security guards heard the commotion coming from the home, they called Oscar and he said “Everything’s fine”. Later he called security and asked them to call an ambulance. Was he trying to give them something to do to prevent them from coming to his home too quickly?
Oscar’s friends got there first and they found him coming down the stairs carrying Reeva. Of course he had the intruder story thought up right away. Really, it’s the only story he could have come up with. Of course, he lives in a gated communiuty surrounded by walls and patrolled by guards. He has a firearm, and an alarm system that he didn’t even bother to turn on, according to him (If the alarm really was on, he’s guilty of murder). It’s a dangerous city in
a dangerous country, but not really where Oscar was living.
The inevitable conflict that didn’t exist
Finally there’s personality factors which the Judge also dismissed as too prejudicial or meaning nothing. Oscar was a hot head with an incredible temper who would go ballistic in a heartbeat. That’s a fact. This is part of what makes him a successful professional athlete. Oscar said himself that the only thing he excelled in at school was nothing, so he turned to sports. His previous girlfriend before Reeva was a 17 year-old, and he dumped her in two seconds for Reeva. Oscar is an Alpha type male and quite chauvinistic, and he wasn’t about to change any time soon. Reeva was a refined law school graduate and model. She was very sensitive to domestic violence issues and outspoken against men who would try to control her. Oscar had a very tumultuous and volatile relationship with his previous girlfriend, Samantha Taylor.
Oscar’s Olympic Village roommate from London, 2012, moved out on him and changed rooms because of the constant yelling, screaming, and arguing between Samantha Taylor and Oscar Pistorius. Hello? London calling??
Seventeen years old? Hello? He threatened her with a gun. Hello? Johannesburg calling??
Oil and water
This relationship was most likely not going to work out and they were not compatible. On Valentines day 2013, Reeva was scheduled to deliver a speech on Domestic Violence to a local school. On Valentine’s day 2013, Oscar did receive a shipment of personal firearms. Not that these two competing interests are irreconcilable, but although these two look on the outside to possibly be made for each other, on the inside they were not. Not unless Oscar was willing to go through some drastic changes.
2 eye-witnesses can’t be right?
Somehow, even though there were three people in the car when Oscar Pistorius allegedly fired rounds out of the sunroof, and even though the other two people involved said they witnessed this, the judge has decided it maybe didn’t happen. So, can we say that Oscar Pistorius was negligent, reckless, and indifferent to human life when operating a weapon? The judge says we cannot be sure. The circumstantial evidence is strong as a rope, though.
Unlike in the U.S., where an acquittal is final, in South Africa an acquittal can be appealed by the prosecution. Maybe they will do so. The prosecution erred in having an overzealous prosecutor trying to force evidence to fit a conviction (insisting Oscar was wearing prosthetics when he fired the gun – He was not). Irregularities occurred at the crime scene and with evidence and some things are said to have gone missing. Of course, in the beginning, this was not looked at as a murder case. This means the evidence was not as tightly controlled at the start.
The prosecution bobbled it
This worked out very much in Oscar Pistorius favor by piling a lot of doubt on the prosecution’s evidence and creating sympathy for the accused. The prosecution’s many contentions of Oscar’ recklessness and impulsivity also ended up helping the defense, by making Oscar’s unbelievable story seem much more believable, for a reckless guy like him. Oscar’ vulnerabilities due to a lifetime of disability were also factor.
Appeal likely if no prison time
We will look forward to the sentencing to see if Oscar gets some much deserved prison time, how much community service he gets, and whether the prosecution will appeal the acquittal on the murder charge and take another try at him.
Oscar contends that he is very sorry that he chased Reeva Steenkamp into a toilet and shot and killed her. He’s sorry and he says he will not do it again.
Not significant? What’s app?
According to the judge, the “watts app” messages a few weeks before the shooting where Reeva is explaining why Oscar’s behavior has upset her, are not importanr. Relationships are dynamic, and people are fickle, she said. People are happy and crazy in love one day, and upset andangry the next day. But the judge has forgotten two very important things. The relationship was really only a few weeks old in terms of time spent together. The second is that Reeva was a law
student. Here she is documenting. She is putting it down in writing and revealing her feelings to Oscar. This can be seen as a written warning.
She certainly is not fickle enough to just write down any negative experience she has. These are things she was very upset about. She wanted it down in writing. she wanted to see if Oscar was going to see that his behavior wasn’t acceptable. It was a warning that she wasn’t going to tolerate that kind of behavior if they were going to be together. Messages between the two reveal that Reeva had heard negative things about Oscar and was trying to decide for herself if they were true or not. Texts and IM’s between Reeva and Oscar reveal that Reeva was testing
Oscar out and starting to call him out on some of his behaviors and actions. The judge found this to not be conclusive about anything. Oscar also has a jealous streak a mile wide and Reeva had just completed a successful reality TV show and she wanted to do more. She was becoming quite a success on her own. She was deciding whether or not to get serious with Oscar and she was still on the fence in spite of the Valentine’s “I Love You” card.
The toilet room is the key
The key seems like a major piece of evidence, because a person doesn’t normally feel the need to lock the door in the middle of the night from their sexual partner. The judge imagines that Reeva could have locked the door when she heard Oscar yelling to her to call the police. Reeva also took her smart phone with her. This can also have an innocent explanation: She needed a light to guide her or she just wanted to browse the net or check messages. But if she locked the door because Oscar was yelling to her about an intruder, then why didn’t she call the police?
The key was also on the floor near the door, suggesting it was still in her hand when Reeva was shot. If she was locking the door for protection due to Oscar’s warning, why would she be holding the key? She wouldn’t have removed the key from the door. They kind of glossed over the other evidence about damaged tiles and a smashed in metal panel. There is evidence from the battered door also that there was more of a struggle going on than an intruder in the toilet room. Also, an intruder is not going to corner themselves into a tiny toliet room.
Get out of my house!
Also, Oscar made it a big point that he screamed twice “Get out of my house”. This is a detail he would not generally remember. Maybe he said this because he was worried someone had heard him yell this before the gunshots were heard.
What woke the witnesses?
The witnesses were asleep, and you don’t just wake up and start hearing noises. This is another place the judger had it wrong. There had to be loud noises (probably screaming or the gunshots), that woke the people up in the first place. People were calling exactly at the time the cricket bat shots were heard. People do not respond instantaneously to loud noises. People need time to process things and to react. They must have heard something EARLIER that woke them up and then something that made them call security quite some time BEFORE the cricket bat shots were heard.
Reasons why the verdict was incorrect:
1 The fan story
2 Not seeing, hearing, feeling, having any contact with Reeva
3 The blue LED light
4 The prolonged argument (that the judge says never happened)
5 Telling security “Everything is fine.”
6 Previous incidents of negligence with firearms
7 The coroner’s report suggest Reeva was up at 1:00 AM
8 Reeva only knew Oscar 3 months
9 Reeva had only been with Oscar about 3 weeks total time
10 Reeva was already not sure about and feeling scared sometimes with Oscar
11 Oscar’s previous girlfriend said Oscar was threatening, controlling
12 Oscar’s previous girlfriend said Oscar never closed the curtains
13 Oscar always woke up/asked his previous girlfriend when he heard a noise
14 Witnesses saw lights on in the bathroom before shots were heard
15 Four hollow point bullets fired through a door = intent to kill
(It doesn’t matter if it was Reeva or an unseen intruder)
Reasons why the prosecution lost the case
1 The judge didn’t look at the reasonableness that ALL the circumstances as a whole could be possible.
2 Not just each circumstance singly, but all the circumstances together need to be reasonable.
3 For example, Reeva could have brought her smart phone to the toilet to use as a light. She could have locked the toilet door when she heard Oscar yell out. But if she locked the door because she heard Oscar yell, why didn’t she call the police?
4 Hilton Botha, the original detective, was under suspiscion of murder, had to bow out of the case.
5 The prosecution was too agressive, made some mistaken assumptions.
6 The prosecution contaminated the crime scene and moved some objects.
7 The prosecurion’s attempts to portray Oscar as impulsive and reckless backfired and made Oscar’s highly improbable story more believable.
7:00 PM The time Oscar says he and Reeva had dinner.
9:00-10:00 PM The time Oscar said they went to bed.
1:00 AM The time science says is most likely Reeva had her last meal
1:56 AM Argument heard by witness, could not speak English, only Afrikaans, couldn’t give the direction or what was being said.
2:20 AM Security drove by the home but heard nothing.
3:02 AM Ms. Stipps wakes up to arguing, later hears screams, shots.
3:10 AM Approximate time of the gunshots.
3:15 AM Dr. Stipps had gone to his balcony to hear better, heard screams, shots, calls security and hears the cricket bat shots while on the phone.
3:15 AM Apoproximate time of the cricket bat hits, neighbor’s calls start coming in.
3:19 AM Oscar Pistorius makes calls.
3:50 AM Reeva Steenkamp officially pronounced dead.
**UPDATE** Oscar can be disarmingly polite, courteous and even charming, but Reeva’s best friend’s Dad, her “Johannesburg Pop”, had to tell Pistorius to “back off” when he wouldn’t stop phoning and phoning Reeva and ‘backing her into a corner’.”
“(Samantha Taylor) said their relationship was tempestuous, with Pistorius often “screaming” at her. South African footballer Marc Batchelor said Pistorius threatened to break his legs and “f*** him up” when he defended a friend who was involved in a disagreement with the athlete over Ms. Taylor.
He said: “He phoned me up, saying ‘You piece of shit’, ‘You c***’, all that kind of stuff. He said he was going to f*** me up. I just laughed at him. I told him, ‘Oscar, I can’t hit a man with no legs’.””
“The athlete had to be locked in a room, punched tables and hurled chairs against walls after being beaten in the 200 metres final by Brazilian sprinter Alan Oliveira.
It was Pistorius’s first ever defeat over 200 metres. He was led away after an extraordinary television outburst on the track in which he accused Oliveira of having an unfair advantage because of the length of the blades attached to his legs.”
“Following the outburst he was ushered to an underground room of the Olympic Stadium where he erupted in a temper tantrum.
The double-amputee shouted and screamed at IPC officials before erupting in tears in what one witness described as being “just like a naughty three-year-old”.The athlete then began hitting tables, kicking walls and throwing furniture around as stunned officials gath ered outside the door.”
“It is understood that at various stages Paralympic chiefs went into the room to try to calm him down but each visit saw a fresh escalation of his hysterical reaction.”