Whither thou goest Oscar Pistorius

3 dimensional walk-through of Pistorius bedroom/bathroom

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

Good morning:

Crane-Station’s efforts to resuscitate her computer have been unsuccessful so I am subbing for her today.

Tomorrow morning at 3:30 am EDT, Judge Thokozile Masipa will announce her decision in the Oscar Pistorius case. He is the famous disabled South African paralympian known as the Blade Runner. An audience of millions will be watching.

Both legs were amputated below the knees when he was 11 months old because he was born with detached fibia and tibula bones. He competed by wearing a curved metal prosthesis that functioned like a spring permitting him to compete against the fastest sprinters in the world. He won a gold medal in the 100 meter sprint at the paralympics and barely missed qualifying for the 100 meter final in the Olympics.

Pistorius is accused of murdering his girlfriend, Reeva Steenkamp, by shooting her to death through the locked door of the toilet cubicle that is next to the bathroom in his upstairs master bedroom suite.

His home was located in a gated community protected by a 24/7 security staff.

Steenkamp was a lawyer, model and actor who was on the verge of international fame and fortune with her role in a South African reality show.

They were a beautiful couple supposedly involved in a fairytale romance that ended with four gunshots through a locked toilet door on Valentine’s Day last year.

Pistorius testified at trial that after he and Steenkamp went to bed around 10 pm, he was awakened around 3:30 am by the sound of the bathroom window opening. He said he thought that an intruder had entered the bathroom by climbing a ladder. He grabbed his gun and without putting on his regular everyday prosthesis he proceeded down a short hallway on his stumps to the entrance to the bathroom. After hearing a sound like someone bumped the magazine rack in the toilet stall, he fired his gun four times through the door.

When he returned to the bedroom, he discovered that Steenkamp was not in bed and only then realized that she might have been in the toilet stall.

Steenkamp was hit three times. First, in the hip. Second in the arm and chest. Third, in the forehead. He was using an especially deadly form of ammunition that releases little metal hooks tucked into the side of the bullet that pop out as the bullet spins out of the muzzle of the gun.

She could not have survived the wounds to her hip and head.

The prosecution’s theory of the case was that she locked herself in the toilet stall with her cell phone during an argument with Pistorius. He lost his temper and shot her to death through the locked door.

Several neighbors, including a woman who lived next door, testified that they heard loud voices and a woman’s terrified screams followed by four shots. She said she awakened to the screams and looked out her bedroom window at Pistorius’s bathroom window and noticed that the light was on.

He testified that it was off when he fired the shots. Like George Zimmerman before him, he claimed that the neighbor heard him screaming, not Steencamp.

He claimed she never said anything and he admitted that he did not call out to her to make sure she was not in the toilet before he fired his gun.

The medical examiner testified that Steencamp had consumed a stir fry meal approximately an hour and a half before the shooting, based on an analysis of her stomach contents.

I will always remember this trial for the savage cross examination of Pistorius by the prosecutor, Gerrie Nel, and the sudden switch from self-defense by defense counsel, Barry Roux, to a pervasive state-of-anxiety-caused-by-my-disability made me overreact.

This mid-stream switch resulted in a 30-day commitment for a thorough mental health examination by three psychiatrists who unanimously concluded that he did not suffer from a general anxiety disorder.

Oh, well. The show must go on.

With the facts and law against him, Barry Roux reanimated the defense delivering an excellent poor-Oscar closing argument that just might carry the day.

But I wouldn’t advise betting the ranch that Pistorius will be acquitted.

The law of self-defense is clear. To justifiably use deadly force in self-defense, Pistorius must have reasonably believed himself to be in imminent danger of death or serious injury.

Self-defense will not fly, if Judge Masipa concludes that Pistorius knew Steencamp was in the toilet stall. If she rejects self-defense, she can find him guilty of premeditated murder, in which case he is looking at a minimum of 25 years in prison, or she can find him guilty of intentional murder (i.e., intentional but not premeditated) which has a mandatory minimum of 15 years in prison.

Premeditation requires proof of intent to kill, reflection on the decision to kill, and an affirmation to go ahead and do it. Actual reflection on the decision to kill, rather than the passage of time, is what distinguishes premeditation from an intentional killing. So called heat-of-passion killings are usually intentional, but not premeditated, because the decision to kill merges with and is inseparable from the killing.

Even if Judge Masipa decides that he believed he was shooting at an intruder, self-defense is unlikely to fly because the intruder was behind a locked door. Like Theodore Wafer, Pistorius was not in any danger, unless the intruder opened the door.

She might find him guilty of culpable homicide, if she decides that he acted negligently in self-defense, but without intent to kill. She could then sentence him up to a maximum of 15 years in prison. This is probably the best outcome he can reasonably expect, since an acquittal is unlikely.

Last, but certainly not least, Pistorius is also charged with shooting a gun under the table in a crowded restaurant and shooting a gun out of the open sunroof of his vehicle while motoring down the roadway.

These shooting incidents and his refusal to accept responsibility for shooting the guns, as if they went off by themselves while he was holding them, evidence a reckless young man with a gun fetish who refuses to accept responsibility for his acts.

Those two acts form a menacing background for the Valentine’s Day shooting.

I am planning on staying up late tonight to watch Judge Masipa deliver her opinion.

The pool is open. See you in the comments.

22 Responses to Whither thou goest Oscar Pistorius

  1. ay2z says:

    One livestream channel, long way to bounce a signal from Australia though. Live audio video from the street outside the courthouse, an hour out.


    • Michelleo says:

      Welp, she ruled that Oscar could not have known that the shots from his gun would have killed his girlfriend—-so there goes that “role model” b.s. There is justice for the rich and “just us” for the poor.

  2. ay2z says:

    Women in the Constitutional Court of South Africa.

  3. ay2z says:

    Today from BBC Africa, Video about and including, Judge Masipa’s thoughts.


  4. ay2z says:

    Pistorius apparently had two other homes in another other community which he has sold in addition to his Silver Woods home in which he shot and killed Reeva Steenkamp.

    His wealth and privilege may help him exhaust whatever appeals process is open to him.

    • ay2z says:

      Personally, I doubt that any further Oscar doings, would capture my interest in this story, unless for some reason, he was give a free pass on all charges and the state should decide an appeal. He should just fad away and go get a job on the Nike shoe lace assembly line in town no-name.

  5. ay2z says:

    AP article titled “Why the Oscar Pistorius verdict will be lengthy and complicated”

    By: GERALD IMRAY Associated Press, Published on Wed Sep 10 2014

    “….. Because South Africa has no trial by jury, Judge Masipa must show why she and her two legal assessors reached their decision on each count. The process will likely take most of Thursday’s court session and might run into Friday.

    The judge will give a summary of the testimony of all 37 witnesses. Masipa will then give her assessment of each witness — including Pistorius — and what was accepted or rejected from their testimony. Then, she will give a summary of her own findings based on how she interpreted the evidence and how it ties in with the law.

    Finally, she will pronounce Pistorius guilty or not guilty on the charges: Murder, two charges of unlawfully shooting a gun in public in unrelated incidents and one count of illegal possession of ammunition.

    Pistorius will likely be asked to stand while the judgment is read out. “

  6. ay2z says:

    AP has an article today on the verdict process in SA as there is no jury. The judge must show why and how she and her two assessors (who have imput on decisions of fact, but not decisions involving legal issues or the law) reached their decision on each count.

    Before announcing guilty or not guilty on each of the counts, the AP article states:

    “The judge will give a summary of the testimony of all 37 witnesses. Masipa will then give her assessment of each witness — including Pistorius — and what was accepted or rejected from their testimony. Then, she will give a summary of her own findings based on how she interpreted the evidence and how it ties in with the law.”



    • Oh boy. That’s gonna take awhile.

      Thanks for the explanation and link.

      • ay2z says:

        youbetcha! but sorry for the sort of duplication, thought the video ink or something might have messed up the post so redit it.

        One of this weeks highlights, will be Judge Thokozile Masipa, who while growing up as the eldest of 10 children in a 2 room house (several siblings died in childhood, a brother died by murder when he was about 20). ‘Tilly’ as she was known by her western nickname for Matilda, took her African name (don’t know her tribe origins, but Thokozile is a Zulu name, but could also be other groups).

        She raised her children, worked day jobs, and put herself through education to become a social worker, then went to law school, took her 10 years before she graduated with her law degree. Thokozile Masipa is the first black woman judge to be appointed in South Africa. Still today, 40 percent of the population are women, yet only about 15 percent of judges are women.

        The irony, a black woman judge now sits in judgement of a priviledged and extremely high profile athelete of the privieged white wealthy class, and the white male lawyers must also give her full respect.

        And her slight limp? Apparently that is an artefact of childhood polio.

        A truly amazing woman.

  7. ay2z says:

    Nel’s debunk of the automatism defense.

    After a break in his final argument, and after a break, Nels added more information to two points, the second as follows: (will be interesting to hear how Judge Masipa addresses/responds to this point– will Nels have won this round?)

    “One other point.

    For the court to accept that there was a startle, and the startle caused the exaggerated response by the accused and that he fired shots, that that firing of the shots could have been automatic, something that happens and in his [the accused] own evidence he said, “When I looked again”, or “I realized I fired shots”.

    But M’ Lady, that’s not true. It was an interesting thing that happened, and that’s very important M’Lady.

    It was put to Captain Mangena, that the accused fired two double taps. Later, Mr. Roux had to correct it saying I was wrong, it was not two double taps.

    I then cross-examined the accused and the accused said “I am sure it was rapid fire”. “I remember it was rapid fire”. And that is impossible. But he felt strong enough to change two double taps to four rapid shots.

    It is impossible for his defense to succeed, for this accused to know how he fired those shots if he acted automatically. That in itself, just that one double tap rapid fire, just that fact, will make his reliance on his first defense crash, M’Lady. It can not… that, on his evidence cannot happen. He can not explain it and it can not happen. Because to act automatically, you don’t know what you are doing.

    Now M’Lady, I wanted to make those two points.”

  8. ay2z says:

    “She might find him guilty of culpable homicide, if she decides that he acted negligently in self-defense, but without intent to kill. She could then sentence him up to a maximum of 15 years in prison. This is probably the best outcome he can reasonably expect, since an acquittal is unlikely.”

    Yes, he would be lucky to get a sentence of 15 years, with a few served before parole. Not sure that there’s even a minimum sentence, discretion goes to the Judge.

    Wouldn’t the Judge have to consider in an accidental killing scenario, whether it is reasonably possible for someone to fire four fairly well-grouped shots into that small toilet and not expect to kill someone as a likely outcome of their actions.

    Nel crashed the automatism defense ( part of the accident theory ?), when he caught Pistorius in his firm correction of Nel’s question to Mangena about two double taps. Pistorius talked to Roux apparently, then Roux corrected Nel, giving Nel the opportunity to cross Pistorius, who then remembered firmly and clearly, it was not two double taps but definitely rapid fire. That proves that Pistorius knew what he did at the time, something Nel claims is impossible with the startle.anxiety automatic response, when you act automatically, you don’t know how you fired at the time.

    • ay2z says:

      Oldewage apparently presented the bail application with a lot of detail, could that have been a mistake given how much Pistorius deviated, added to, that bail argument in his own testimony? Would it not have been better to leave a lot more room to fudge, tweek and tailor during trial?

  9. ay2z says:

    Good morning, I have read that it may take the better of the two days, for Judge Masipa to deliver her verdicts on all counts.

    Something about addressing her assessment of each witness and reading some expected hundreds of pages (yikes!). Don’t know if this is true or not.

    On a lighter note, a radio station DJ has been having a bit of fun, celebrating the two advo-cats, Barry and Gerrie.

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