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Entries in Oscar Pistorius (25)

Monday
Jun032013

Pistorius Family 'Shaken' by Photos of Crime Scene

Photo by Waldo Swiegers/Heat Magazine/Gallo Images/Getty Images(PRETORIA, South Africa) -- Oscar Pistorius' family is "shaken by the graphic images" released by a British media news outlet that show the bloody crime scene where the Olympian fatally shot his model girlfriend earlier this year.

"We were shaken by the graphic images, leaked into the public domain this week, of the accident scene at Oscar's house," the family said in a statement Sunday after Sky News released images Friday of the blood-stained bathroom where Pistorius fatally shot Reeva Steenkamp on Valentine's Day at his home in Pretoria, South Africa.

Pistorius, 26, says he shot girlfriend Steenkamp, 29, by accident, mistaking her for an intruder.

Pistorius, dubbed "Blade Runner" for his prosthetic legs, is accused of premeditated murder. He is scheduled to appear in court Tuesday in a pretrial hearing.

"It has always been our plea that the legal process be allowed its run its course with integrity," the Pistorius family said. "The leaking of evidential material into the public domain, before the court case, does not advance this process."

One of the images released by Sky News shows a large pool of blood near the toilet in the bathroom along with two police markers that appear to indicate bullet holes below the door handle. Some analysts say the low position of the bullet holes supports the runner's claim that he was not wearing his prosthetic legs when he shot Steenkamp.

Her family has not commented publicly on the photos.

Prosecutors alleged that Pistorius took a moment to put on his prosthetic legs, indicating that he thought out and planned to kill Steenkamp when he shot her three times through the bathroom door.

Others say these photos are inconclusive.

"It's very difficult to assess crime scenes from photos when you have an incomplete set," ABC News consultant and former FBI agent Brad Garrett said.

Police say they don't know "the origin of the photos," although sources told ABC News that a police officer took them on a cell phone.

Sky News said it "obtained" the collection of photographs of Pistorius' home, but did not divulge the source.

One picture shows bloody shoe footprints, possible evidence that investigators contaminated the crime scene. Former lead investigator Hilton Botha previously admitted police had walked through the crime scene without wearing protective foot covers.

"I would be surprised if it were enough to cause a judge to throw out the case," Garrett said.

Meanwhile, the Paralympian's uncle, Arnold Pistorius, told CNN in an interview that his nephew has grown a beard, surrounded himself with photos of Steenkamp and barely goes outside anymore.

"What can you say if the person you love the most dies," Pistorius said, "and you were the instrument? How would you feel?"

Copyright 2013 ABC News Radio

Saturday
Jun012013

Leaked Photographs of Pistorius Murder Scene 'Not from the Police'

Photo by Herman Verwey/City Press/Gallo Images/Getty Images(PRETORIA, South Africa) -- Photographs of the bathroom where Olympian Oscar Pistorius allegedly killed his girlfriend were leaked on Friday, with questions abound regarding the handling of the crime scene.

Pistorius, who is charged with the murder of his girlfriend, Reeva Steenkamp in February. Pistorius maintains he shot Steenkamp, 29, by accident, mistaking her for an intruder on Valentine's Day. He is due back in court on June 4 with a trial scheduled to take place before the end of this year.

In recent weeks there have been reports that one of the runner's watches was missing from his home following the initial police investigation. After the lead investigator was kicked off of the case for his own legal issues, the leaked photos are the latest complication in the Olympian's murder case.

"The photos that we have seen are not from the police," South African National Police Brigadier Phuti Setati said. "We do not know the origin of the photos or the footage. We are looking into the matter with the view of establishing if it warrants an investigation."

It is not clear who may have had access to the crime scene in addition to investigating officers and Pistorius, though one source suggests that a South African police officer may have taken the photograph after the preliminary investigation. Police are already looking into a number of media leaks, including the confiscation of 40 South African police officers' phones.

Copyright 2013 ABC News Radio

Tuesday
Feb262013

Pistorius Unable to Enter Home, Train, as Trial Enters Next Stages

Richard Huggard/Gallo Images/Getty Images(PRETORIA, South Africa) -- Among the conditions attached to Oscar Pistorius' bail agreement is that the Olympic sprinter is barred from entering his own home, where he shot his model-girlfriend to death on Valentine's Day.

The luxury home in Pretoria, South Africa, is an active crime scene and, as such, is off limits to all but the new team of investigators appointed last week after the alleged murderer's bail hearing exposed cracks in the prosecution's case.

Detectives are still combing the scene -- Pistorius' bed and en-suite bathroom in particular -- for clues that might have been missed during the initial stages of the investigation.

The hearing at which Pistorius was granted bail suggested that the door through which Pistorius shot Reeva Steenkamp will form an integral part of the investigation, as will both Steenkamp and Pistorius' cell phones. Forensic experts and blood spatter analysts will also use data collected from the scene in an attempt to reconstruct the events that played out in the early hours of Feb. 14.

Pistorius, 26, says he shot Steenkamp, 29, by accident, mistaking her for an intruder.

Prosecutors have three months to prepare for Pistorius' next appearance in the Pretoria Magistrate's Court, but it is unlikely that the trial will start before the last quarter of the year. As is routine, the prosecution is likely to request a postponement when the case resumes June 4. Only after prosecutors are satisfied that they have all the evidence needed to secure a conviction will they serve an indictment on Pistorius, which will outline the exact charges against him. A High Court trial date will be determined after the indictment has been served.

For now, the man dubbed the "Blade Runner" stands accused of premeditated murder, but authorities have already indicated that at least one other charge, relating to the possession of unlicensed ammunition, will be added to the charge sheet.

Pistorius, who was released Friday on about $113,000 bond, is prohibited by his bail conditions from returning to his home in a high-security complex in eastern Pretoria. Instead, he is living with his uncle, Arnold, in the latter's home in the affluent Waterkloof suburb, where he has been meeting with his legal team, coach and agent.

It's still unclear when, if ever, Pistorius will start training again but he cancelled all his upcoming events shortly after the shooting.

Copyright 2013 ABC News Radio

Monday
Feb252013

Reeva Steenkamp's Father Wants 'Blade Runner' to Come Clean 

Richard Huggard/Gallo Images/Getty Images(NEW YORK) -- In their first televised interview since their daughter was shot to death by her boyfriend, Oscar Pistorius, Reeva Steenkamp's parents said they want the world-famous Paralympian to come clean about what happened in his South African home on Valentine's Day.

Barry Steenkamp said he yearns for the truth about what happened prior to his daughter's being shot three times in the bathroom of Pistorius' Pretoria home.

"It's only Oscar [and] Reeva that know the true story, and all I want is that he must just come out with the honest truth," he told the Cart Blanche television program Sunday on South African channel MNet.

In the emotional interview, Steenkamp's mother, June, described how police called her Feb. 14 asking whether she had a daughter:

"I said, 'Yes,' and he said, 'There's been an accident, and she's been shot.' And I said, 'All I want to know is if she's alive or she's dead.' And he said, 'I'm sorry to have to tell you, but she's dead.'"

Pistorius, a double-amputee nicknamed the Blade Runner for the carbon-fiber blades he uses, was granted bail Friday after an intense four-day hearing in a Pretoria courtroom. Pistorius, 26, says he killed Steenkamp, 29, accidentally, mistaking her for an intruder. But prosecutors allege that the killing was premeditated.

Barry Steenkamp told the Afrikaans-language Beeld newspaper Suturday that Pistorius will have to "live with his conscience" and will "suffer" if his story that he shot Steenkamp because he believed she was an intruder is false.

The saga took another twist Sunday with news that the runner's older brother, Carl Pistorius, is being charged in the 2008 death of a woman whose motorcycle collided with his car. In a statement, Carl Pistorius' lawyer said he is innocent of the crime.

"There is no doubt that Carl is innocent and the charge will be challenged in court," attorney Kenny Oldwage said.

Carl Pistorius is charged with culpable homicide, or the unlawful negligent killing of another person. The charges were initially dropped, but later reinstated, Oldwage said in a statement.

Meanwhile, the last image of Steenkamp emerged over the weekend. It shows her smiling as she drives up to the entrance of Pistorius' house. Hours later, she was shot dead.

Oscar Pistorius' next court appearance will be June 4. He is believed to be staying at his uncle's house as he awaits trial.

 

Copyright 2013 ABC News Radio

Monday
Feb252013

Oscar Pistorius' Brother Facing Culpable Homicide Charge

Nelius Rademan/Foto24/Gallo Images/Getty Images(PRETORIA, South Africa) -- The attorney for Oscar Pistorius' family said on Sunday that the Olympian's brother is facing a culpable homicide charge relating to a 2008 road accident in which a motorcyclist was killed.

Carl Pistorius, who sat behind his younger brother, Oscar, every day at his bail hearing, will now face his own homicide trial for the accident five years ago, which his attorney, Kenny Oldwage, said he "deeply regrets."

Carl is charged with culpable homicide, which refers to the unlawful negligent killing of another person.  The charges were initially dropped, but were later reinstated, Oldwage said in a statement.

Carl quietly appeared in court last Thursday, one day before his Paralympic gold-medalist brother was released on bail, Oldwage said.  His next appearance is scheduled for the end of March.

It was the latest twist in a case that has drawn international attention, after Oscar, 26, a double amputee who ran in both the 2012 Olympic and Paralympic games, was charged with the premeditated murder of his model girlfriend, Reeva Steenkamp.

After a four-day long bail hearing, Oscar was granted bail last Friday by a South African magistrate.  The court set bail at about $113,000 ($1 million rand) and June 4 as the date for his next court appearance.

Oscar is believed to be staying at his uncle's house as he awaits trial.  As part of his bail conditions, Oscar must give up all his guns, he cannot drink alcohol or return to the home where the shooting occurred, and he must check in with a police department twice a week.

Copyright 2013 ABC News Radio

Saturday
Feb232013

Oscar Pistorius Family Says They Realize 'Law Must Run Its Course'

Richard Huggard/Gallo Images/Getty Images(PRETORIA, South Africa) -- South African Olympian Oscar Pistorius is spending time with his family on Saturday after the athlete was freed on $113,000 bail Friday.

"We realise that the law must run its course, and we would not have it any other way," the Olympian's uncle, Arnold Pistorius said in a statement on Saturday.

The Pistorius family expressed their gratitude that the former Olympian was allowed out of jail before the trial.

"This constitutes a moment of relief under these otherwise very grave circumstances" said Arnold Pistorius."We are extremely thankful that Oscar is now home."

Pistorius, 26, is charged with premeditated murder in the Valentine's Day shooting of his girlfriend Reeva Steenkamp.

While the prosecution argued that the world-renowned athlete was a flight risk and had a history of violence, South African Magistrate Desmond Nair, who presided over the case, disagreed.

"He regards South Africa as his permanent place of abode, he has no intention to relocate to any other country" Nair said during his two hour ruling, before concluding with, "the accused has made the case to be released on bail."

Pistorius will have to adhere to strict conditions to stay out of jail before the trial. He must give up all his guns, he cannot drink alcohol or return to the home where the shooting occurred, and he must check in with a police department twice a week.

Oscar Pistorius is believed to be staying at an uncle's house as he awaits trial.

During the hearing, the prosecution argued that Pistorius shot Steenkamp after an argument, while the defense laid out an alternate version of events saying Pistorius mistook his girlfriend for an intruder.

Nair took issue with the head detective originally in charge of the case, who he said "blundered" in gathering evidence and was removed from the case after it was revealed he is facing attempted murder charges.

After the magistrate's decision, cheers erupted in the courtroom from the Pistorius camp. Pistorius' trial is expected to start in six to eight months, with his next pre-trial court date in June.

Reeva Steenkamp Family Reaction

Steenkamp's father, Barry Steenkamp told the South African Beeld newspaper that the 26-year-old athlete will "suffer" if he is lying about accidentally shooting 29-year-old model.

Barry Steenkamp went on to say that the Pistorius will have to "live with his conscience" if he intentionally shot Reeva.

Copyright 2013 ABC News Radio

Friday
Feb222013

Oscar Pistorius to Be Released on Bail

Herman Verwey/City Press/Gallo Images/Getty Images(PRETORIA, South Africa) -- Oscar Pistorius, the Olympian accused of murdering his girlfriend Reeva Steenkamp on Valentine's Day, will be released on bail, a South African magistrate ruled on Friday.

In reading his lengthy decision, Magistrate Desmond Nair said, "The issue before me is whether the accused, being who is and the assets he has [here], would seek to duck and dive all over the world."

He concluded, "I cannot find that he is a flight risk."

The court set bail at about $113,000 ($1 million rand) and June 4 as the date for Pistorius' next court appearance.

The other bail conditions are: Pistorius cannot leave the country; he must hand over his passports; he cannot return to his home as long as it's an active crime scene; he needs permission to leave the Pretoria area; he must visit a police station on a daily basis and be available to a probation officer at all times via cellphone; he is not allowed any communication with prosecution witnesses; he cannot drink alcohol; and he must relinquish his firearms.

"Do you understand?" Nair asked the 26-year-old athlete.

"Yes, sir," Pistorius replied.

Speaking for the family, Pistorius' uncle, Arnold, said: "Although we are obviously relieved that Oscar has been granted bail, this is still a very sad time for the family of Reeva and for us.  We are grateful that the Magistrate recognized the validity and strength of our application.  As the family, we are convinced that Oscar's version of what happened on that terrible night will prove to be true."

The fourth and final day of Pistorius' bail hearing opened with arguments from the prosecution that the runner's version of events is improbable and the defense countering that Pistorius had no intent to kill Steenkamp.

Pistorius, who gained global acclaim for racing at the 2012 London Olympics, shot his model girlfriend through a closed bathroom.  He says he killed Steenkamp accidentally, but prosecutors allege that he took a moment to put on his prosthetic legs, indicating that he thought out and planned to kill Steenkamp when he shot her three times through a bathroom door.

Pistorius sobbed Friday in court.  Barry Roux, his defense attorney, said the prosecution has misinterpreted the assigning of intent -- meaning that the runner's intent to shoot at a supposed intruder in his home cannot be transferred to someone else who was shot -- in this case, Steenkamp.

"He did not want to kill Reeva," Roux told the court.

When Nair, who has been overhearing the bail hearing, asked Roux what the charges should be if Pistorius intended to kill an intruder, the defense attorney responded that he should be charged with culpable homicide.  Culpable homicide is defined in South Africa as "the unlawful negligent killing of a human being."

Roux also made light of the prosecution's argument that Pistorius is a flight risk, saying that every time the double-amputee goes through airport security, it causes a commotion.  He said that Pistorius' legs need constant maintenance and he needs medical attention for his stumps.

The prosecution argued on Friday that the onus is on Pistorius to provide his version of events, and his version is improbable.

Prosecutor Gerrie Nel also spoke of Pistorius' fame and his disability, even relating him to Wikipedia founder Julian Assange, who is now confined to Ecuador's London Embassy, where he has been granted political asylum.

"[Assange's] facial features are as well known as Mr. Pistorius' prostheses," Nel said.

Nel argued that Pistorius' prostheses do not set him apart, stating that it's no different to any other feature, and the court cannot be seen to treat people with disabilities accused of a crime, or famous people accused of a crime, any differently.

Pistorius has said that in the early hours of Feb. 14, he was closing his balcony doors when he heard a noise from the bathroom.  Fearing an intruder, and without his prosthetic legs on, he grabbed a gun from under his bed and fired through the closed bathroom door, he told the court.

But prosecutors say that's implausible, that the gun's holster was found under the side of the bed where Steenkamp slept, and that Pistorius would have seen she wasn't there.  Prosecutors also say the angle at which the shots were fired shows Pistorius was already wearing his prosthetics when he fired.

Copyright 2013 ABC News Radio

Friday
Feb222013

Friends Believe Oscar Pistorius, Reeva Steenkamp Were Happy

Waldo Swiegers/Heat Magazine/Gallo Images/Getty Images(PRETORIA, South Africa) -- Friends of model Reeva Steenkamp describe her relationship with Olympic runner Oscar Pistorius as seemingly healthy and normal, and they say that's why it's so hard for them to make sense of her Valentine's Day gun death at Pistorius' hands.

"We just want to believe that justice will be served," said Gina Myers, Steenkamp's friend and roommate.  "And we trust it.  We trust and we have faith in the fact the truth will come out."

Pistorius, a double amputee known as the "Blade Runner" because of the carbon fiber prosthetics he runs on, has admitted shooting Steenkamp repeatedly through a bathroom door during the early morning hours of Feb. 14.  He reportedly has told investigators he thought Steenkamp was an intruder in his home.  Prosecutors have charged him with premeditated murder.

Regardless of the circumstances of Steenkamp's death, she is gone -- and Myers told ABC News she hasn't been able to change a thing in her friend's room at the house they shared with Myers' parents.

"Even when we were in rooms next door to each other," Myers said, growing emotional, "she'd still send me messages saying ...'Goodnight my G, I love you.'"

"She was just always happy and smiling and always just, and the most ... amazing outlook on life," she added, pausing as her eyes watered up.  "There was not one day ever that she complained about anything.  It doesn't matter what's going on inside of her head and heart, she was always just happy."

Myers noted Steenkamp planned to give a talk to high school girls about abusive relationships the day she died because "she had been in an abusive relationship that she had experienced."

"I think it was just like Reeva to want to help people," she said.

"This was something that she could try and voice because she had experienced it," she said, putting her hand to her chest.  "Whatever it is.  And it was something she believed in."

However, Myers did not see anything amiss in Steenkamp's relationship with Pistorius.

"As far as I knew, she was happy," Myers said.  "There are problems in every relationship.  It happens to everybody.  Anything else we're not aware of.  We don't really talk about it."

Sitting next to Myers, Daren Fresco, who said he was a close friend of Steenkamp's, seemed to echo Myers' thoughts on the Pistorius-Steenkamp relationship.

"Every relationship has its ups and downs," he said.  "You find me one that doesn't and I'll tell you it's not a proper relationship."

"What's done is done," he said of the shooting and the legal process playing out in its wake.  "It can never be undone.  Now we just wait."

Kevin Lerena, who described himself as a friend of both Pistorius and Steenkamp, painted their relationship in more glowing terms.

"If Oscar was to ask her to get married she would have said yes," he said.  "That's how happy and joyful their relationship was.  That's why, to us, it's such a shock.  Because after what's happened, it's really a freak or tragic accident."

Lerena said he thought Pistorius did not have a particularly bad temper.

"No, not at all," he said.  "We're all guys.  We've all got testosterone and there's certain people that aggravate you -- certain guys that aggravate and irritate you that you do lose your temper with.  But Oscar on a whole?  No, not at all.  He has a very...humble person -- very quiet...to himself."

He, too, is torn apart by Steenkamp's death at Pistorius' hands.

"It's very hard because we've got a friend who's hurting for what's happened and we've got a friend that's passed on," he said.  "So our group of friends, and not just our group of friends but the whole community of South Africa is hurting, you know?  Nobody knows what happened, what transpired.  That's where there's this whole huge investigation.  At the end of the day, a lady has died and that's the hard part.  An innocent girl has passed on.  It's heartbreaking, you know?"

"It's still hard to realize," he said.  "It was just two weeks ago I was speaking to both of them, and now one is gone and one's in a whole lot of trouble."

Copyright 2013 ABC News Radio

Thursday
Feb212013

Lead Detective in Oscar Pistorius Murder Probe Under Scrutiny

Liza van Deventer/Foto24/Gallo Images/Getty Images(PRETORIA, South Africa) -- The Oscar Pistorius murder probe has suddenly focused on Hilton Botha, the prosecution’s lead police detective.

While a judge in Pretoria, South Africa, still hasn’t determined whether Pistorius, a Paralympic champion, should be granted bail while awaiting trial for last week’s shooting death of his girlfriend, Reeva Steenkamp, Botha is now under scrutiny because of seven counts of attempted murder against him.

Botha and a group of police officers were accused of drunkenly opening fire on a minibus carrying seven passengers in 2011.  While charges were filed but never carried through, the director of public prosecutions decided on Wednesday to push ahead with the charges against Botha and two cops.

This announcement came as Botha's testimony was pulled apart by Pistorius' defense attorney in court Wednesday during a bail hearing related to the Valentine’s Day shooting of Steenkamp that the prosecution maintains was premeditated murder.

Botha testified that a witness heard shouts from the Pistorius’ home but it was later ascertained that the witness lived 600 meters away.  Meanwhile, Botha also admitted that he had never bothered to check whether Pistorius had called an ambulance, which records showed he did.

Doubts were also raised about the prosecution’s contention that steroids and testosterone were found at the runner’s home.

Pistorius, who could get life in prison if convicted of murder, became the first double amputee to compete in the Summer Olympic Games when he was fitted with racing blades and ran for South Africa in London last year.

Pistorius also competed in the 2012 Paralympic Games in London and won gold medals in the 4-by-100 meter relay and the 400-meter individual event.

On Thursday, two of his sponsors -- Nike and Thierry Mugler -- dropped him.

"Nike has suspended its contract with Oscar Pistorius.  We believe Oscar Pistorius should be afforded due process and we will continue to monitor the situation closely," Nike said in a statement.

Thierry Mugler said it decided to remove all ads featuring Pistorius "out of respect and sympathy" to his family.

Copyright 2013 ABC News Radio

Wednesday
Feb202013

Oscar Pistorius Shots Said to Have Come from High Angle

Herman Verwey/City Press/Gallo Images/Getty Images(PRETORIA, South Africa) -- At the second day of a bail hearing for Olympian Oscar Pistorius, a South African investigator who arrived at the scene of the Feb. 14 fatal shooting said that Reeva Steenkamp was shot from a high angle, which prosecutors say contradicts the runner's account that he was not wearing his prosthetics when he shot his girlfriend to death.

Pistorius, a double-amputee who runs on carbon-fiber blades, appeared in court Wednesday for the second day in a row after his arrest in the death of girlfriend Steenkamp at his gated home in Pretoria, South Africa.

Arresting officer Hilton Botha told the court on Wednesday that the 26-year-old athlete was standing in the master bathroom when he shot the supermodel, who was crouched in a defensive position behind a locked door in a smaller powder room.  He also said that the bullets that were fired had been fired from high up, and the bullets seemed to be coming in a downward direction.

"[The angle] seems to me down.  Fired down," Botha told the court.

Pistorius said on Tuesday that he went to the bathroom and fired through the door before putting on his prosthetic legs.  He said he mistakenly shot his girlfriend, thinking she was an intruder.

Prosecutors also said that they found two boxes of testosterone in the bedroom, although the defense disputes that, saying it's just herbal supplements.

The court also heard that a witness, a neighbor who lives about 2,000 feet away from Pistorius' home, heard nonstop fighting the morning of the shooting.

"We have a witness who says she heard non-stop shouting and fighting between 2 and 3 a.m.," said prosecutor Gerrie Nel, who added that another witness saw lights on at the time of the gunshots.

Pistorius said he spent a quiet night with Steenkamp before the shooting.

Nel said that Pistorius' actions and phone calls on the night indicate pre-planning, and that there was a "deliberate aiming of shots at the toilet from about 1.5 meters [about 5 feet]."  He said Steenkamp was shot on the right side of her body.

Botha also said Pistorius should be considered a flight risk because investigators discovered that he has offshore bank accounts and a house in Italy.

"I think it would be hard to get him back," Botha told the court.  "This is a very serious crime, shooting an unarmed woman behind a closed door."

Prosecutors also said they may file more charges for unlicensed ammunition, after a special-caliber .38 round was found in a safe in Pistorius' home.

Botha told the court on Wednesday that he arrived at Pistorius' home at 4:15 a.m. on Valentine's Day to find Steenkamp already dead, dressed in white shorts and a black vest, and covered in towels.  The only thing that Pistorius said was, 'I thought it was a burglar,'" according to Botha.

Botha said that he attended Steenkamp's postmortem, and that she had three entrance wounds: one on the head, one in the elbow and one in the hip.

Describing the scene to the court, Botha said that the shots fired into the bathroom were aimed at the toilet bowl.  The shooter "would have to walk into the bathroom and turn directly at the door to shoot at the toilet the way the bullets went," he said.

A cricket bat was also found at the scene.  Botha said that he believes it was used to break down the top part of the bathroom door.  The top part of the door was lying in the toilet, he said, adding that the shots were fired through the top part of the door, not the bottom.

Two iPhones and two BlackBerrys were found in the bedroom, according to Botha, and none were used to call the police.  An overnight bag was also found on the left side of bed.

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