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Entries in Reeva Steenkamp (8)

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

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

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.

Copyright 2013 ABC News Radio

Tuesday
Feb192013

Oscar Pistorius Charged with Premeditated Murder

Richard Huggard/Gallo Images/Getty Images(PRETORIA, South Africa) -- Olympian Oscar Pistorius on Tuesday denied that he willfully killed his girlfriend, telling a South African court that he shot the woman through his bathroom door because he believed she was an intruder.

The 26-year-old athlete was charged on Tuesday with premeditated murder, or a Schedule 6 offense, which under South African law limits his chances for parole if convicted.

Pistorius, a double-amputee who gained worldwide fame for running on carbon-fiber blades, is accused of shooting his girlfriend, Reeva Steenkamp, at his gated home in Pretoria, South Africa, on Feb. 14.

In a statement read by his lawyer, the runner said he and Steenkamp went to bed together before he was awoken by a noise he thought was an intruder coming from the bathroom.

Filled with a "sense of terror," he removed the 9-mm pistol he kept hidden under his bed and, without putting on his prosthetic legs, began shooting through the bathroom door, according to his statement.

It was only then that Pistorius realized Steenkamp was not in bed, he said in the statement.  Fearing she was inside the bathroom, he said, he broke down the door using a cricket bat and carried the woman outside, where he called for help, and she soon died.

Pistorius appeared in court Tuesday for the first time since his Valentine's Day arrest, as prosecutors laid out their case, insisting that the runner could not have mistaken his girlfriend for an intruder.

Prosecutors said Steenkamp had arrived at the house with the expectation of spending the night with Pistorius.  They said that Steenkamp was shot while in the bathroom, which is about 21 feet from the main bedroom, and that the two rooms are linked by a passage.  The door to the toilet was broken down from the outside, prosecutors said, implying that the bathroom door had been locked.

Prosecutors believe it's a case of premeditated murder because, they say, Pistorius had to stop, put on his prosthetic legs, grab a gun and then walk 21 feet to a bathroom.

The premeditated murder charge means that Pistorius would likely be sentenced to life in prison if convicted, and that he is likely to be denied bail, which is expected to be decided later on Tuesday.

The prosecution had said that the defense would no doubt argue for the charge to be downgraded to a Schedule 5 offense, but that was clearly wrong, according to the prosecution.

In a Schedule 5 offense, the onus is on the prosecution to prove that it would be in the interest of justice to keep the accused behind bars and not release him on bail.  A Schedule 6 offense is a more serious category, wherein the defense has to prove that it would be in the interest of justice to release the accused person on bail.

The defense had made it clear on Tuesday that it would argue that Pistorius thought a burglar was inside that bathroom.  The defense said prosecutors have no way to prove that he knew who was in there, and that they are prepared to submit evidence of other men who have shot wives and children, mistaking them for burglars.

Meanwhile on Tuesday, a private memorial service is planned for Steenkamp.  As Pistorius stood before the court, Steenkamp's body was being transported to Port Elizabeth.

Copyright 2013 ABC News Radio

Monday
Feb182013

Oscar Pistorius Case: Police Reportedly Eye Bloody Cricket Bat as Evidence

WALDO SWIEGERS/AFP/Getty Images(NEW YORK) -- Police in South Africa investigating the shooting death of model Reeva Steenkamp, allegedly by boyfriend and Paralympics champion Oscar Pistorius, consider a bloody cricket bat to be a central piece of evidence, according to South Africa's City Press newspaper.

Pistorius, 26, was arrested Thursday and charged with killing Steenkamp, 29, at his home in the South African capitol of Pretoria. His family says the shooting was an accident. He is in jail awaiting a bail hearing Tuesday.

The City Press reported Sunday that police are investigating different scenarios involving the bat. Among them is the possibility that the flat-fronted bat was used in a violent argument before the shooting.

The paper also reported that Pistorius might have first shot Steenkamp in the bedroom, and that she possibly fled to the bathroom where she was shot three more times through the door.

When Pistorius' family arrived at the scene before paramedics, they saw him carrying Steenkamp down the stairs and performing mouth-to-mouth resuscitation on her, City Press reported.

Pistorius, who is nicknamed the "blade runner" because of the carbon-fiber blades on which he runs, has canceled all his upcoming racing appearances, his agent said Sunday night.

The decision was made to "allow Oscar to concentrate on the upcoming legal proceedings and to help and support all those involved as they try to come to terms with this very difficult and distressing situation," Peet Van Zyl of In Site Athlete Management said in a statement.

Pistorius' father was quoted overnight in the South African paper The Sunday Times saying his countrymen are destroying a national icon.

"There is something fundamentally wrong with our society," Henke Pistorius said. "We build people up into heroes, who overcome immense challenges, only to take great glee in breaking them down."

Family and friends rallied to Pistorius' defense, saying they believe the Paralympic gold medalist shot the South African model by accident after he mistook her for an intruder.

"We have no doubt here that there's no substance for the allegations," uncle Arnold Pistorius said.

Pistorius' best friend, Justin Divaris, told reporters that he received a call from a distraught Pistorius just before 4 a.m. Feb. 14 in which he said there had been a terrible accident, and that he shot Steenkamp.

If convicted, Pistorius could face at least 25 years in jail. A memorial service for Steenkamp will be held in Port Elizabeth Tuesday evening. Her body has been flown back for the service before being cremated, her family told local media.

Speaking with the media for the first time since her daughter's death in a phone interview with The Sunday Times from her home in Seaview, Port Elizabeth, June Steenkamp said, "Why? Why my little girl? Why did this happen? Why did he do this? What for?"

 

Copyright 2013 ABC News Radio

Saturday
Feb162013

South African Reality TV Show Premieres with Slain Girlfriend of Oscar Pistorius

WALDO SWIEGERS/AFP/Getty Images(JOHANNESBURG) -- The producers of the South African reality TV show Tropika Island of Treasure said they decided to go ahead with the pre-recorded program featuring the deceased girlfriend of Oscar Pistorius, Reeva Steenkamp.

After much deliberation, the producers were given permission from Steenkamp's family to broadcast the show. The TV show's premiere is on Saturday night. 

Steenkamp was a model, who campaigned against rape and the abuse of women.

A memorial service for Steenkamp is scheduled for next Tuesday, the same day that her accused murderer and former boyfriend, Paralympics star Oscar Pistorius, is due back in court.

Copyright 2013 ABC News Radio







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