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Published On: Mon, Apr 14th, 2014

Oscar Pistorius’ Defense Strategies Crumbling Under Intense Interrogation

Oscar Piscarius

LAGOS APRIL 14TH (URHOBOTODAY) – Oscar Pistorius appears to have two legal defense strategies. And both seem to be failing.
It was a heated fourth day of grueling cross-examination in Courtroom GD, with the Blade Runner breaking down several times as he repeatedly rehashed the minute details of the pre-dawn hours of Valentine’s Day last year, when he shot and killed his girlfriend Reeva Steenkamp.

The prosecution says it was pre-meditated murder. The Paralympian remains adamant that he believed Steenkamp to be an intruder.
The athlete says he did not aim his 9mm Taurus at any point – neither at an intruder, nor at Steenkamp – but out of fear fired through a bathroom door from where he says he heard a noise.
“Was it just lucky that your gun was pointed in the direction of the noise?” prosecuting attorney Gerrie Nel asked, his voice tinged with sarcasm.
“How would that be lucky? She lost her life, my lady!” Pistorius replied to the judge, becoming hysterical, his body heaving with sobs.
“No, Mr. Pistorius, you now try to get emotional again,” said Nel, unsympathetic. “It’s not worth your while.”
It was the most damaging day of testimony for the athlete yet.
Isolated on the stand, and barely managing to keep his emotions in check, Pistorius’ responses to Nel’s non-chronological questioning were confused, at times hesitant, and seemingly ill-advised.
Nel’s questioning goes to the heart of the murder-accused’s defense, which, under the weight of legal interpretation, appeared to crumble.
“Is it your defense that you fired at the perceived attacker?” asked Nel.
“No. That’s not mine …” Pistorius said, his voice trailing off.
“Good,” purred Nel, “Then, what is your defense?”
It is a statement the court has heard time and time again.
“My defense is, as I said my lady, I heard a noise,” Pistorius replied. “I didn’t have time to interpret it and I fired my firearm out of fear, my lady.”
“Then out of fear, by accident?” prompted Nel.
“Because I don’t understand your defense. You can’t have two. You understand that you can’t have two defenses?” Nel asked, openly contemptuous.
The Paralympian’s defense has, until this point, been based on the principle of “putative self defense,” whereby he could be found guilty of “culpable homicide” – the South African equivalent of manslaughter – if he fired at a perceived intruder because he felt his life was under threat.
But, until now, Pistorius has refused to admit this in court.
“I didn’t fire to kill anyone my lady,” he said again, Monday. “I didn’t have time to think. I heard this noise and I thought it was someone coming out to attack me so I fired my firearm.”
“Your defense has now changed, sir, to one of involuntary action,” observed Nel. “It’s now ‘I don’t know why I fired.’ ”
It is a defense extremely difficult to prove without an existing medical condition, such as epilepsy, legal experts say.
“You see, Mr. Pistorius, you now have to give a lot of answers. And you know why, Mr. Pistorius, it’s because you know exactly. You fired at Reeva,” Nel pushed, as the Paralympian’s face crumpled.
“These other versions of yours cannot work. You fired at her. You did!”
Prosecutor Gerrie Nel – nicknamed the “bull terrier” for his unrelenting style of questioning – reduced the athlete to tears several times.
Even after a request from the defense to stop repeating the aspects of the killing that continue to trigger raw emotion – causing delays – Nel refused to let up. He maintains that the source of Pistorius’ visible emotion is his own confusion around what the state alleges are lies.
The athlete returns to the stand Tuesday, for a fifth day of interrogation by the prosecution.
Source: AP

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