‘Oscar cannot escape murder conviction’
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Pretoria - Oscar Pistorius is guilty of premeditated murder and he had the direct intention to kill his girlfriend Reeva Steenkamp in the early hours of Valentine’s Day last year.
This is according to prosecutor Gerrie Nel, who presented his final arguments in Pistorius’ North Gauteng High Court murder trial on Thursday.
In the State’s version, Pistorius and Steenkamp had an argument that morning and she ate shortly before her death, proving that she was awake. When he shouted “get the f*** out of my house”, it was not aimed at the “intruders”. as claimed by him, but he was shouting at Steenkamp, the State argued.
Nel said if the court rejected Pistorius’s version of him believing there were intruders in his house and relied on the objective facts, coupled with circumstantial evidence, a conviction on murder with the direct intent to kill was inevitable.
The facts showed that Pistorius and Steenkamp were alone in the house and he shot and killed her just after 3am using deadly Black Talon ammunition. The shots were aimed at Steenkamp behind the locked toilet door and were neatly grouped. Nel said it was not as if Pistorius, in a panic, shot wildly, hitting the walls and the floor.
He also pointed out that Steenkamp had locked herself into the toilet while being fully clothed (in shorts and top) when she was shot. The first shot hit her while she was standing upright, facing the accused from behind the closed door. Nel said even in the case of the court accepting Pistorius’s evidence that he thought there was an intruder in the toilet, he couldn’t escape conviction on murder with direct intent.
In this regard he said, objectively assessed, there was no imminent attack on the accused, he armed himself and approached the danger by walking to the bathroom, ready to shoot. When he reached the bathroom and realised the “intruder” was in the toilet, he continued to fire four shots. Nel said there was nothing to suggest that an attack on his life was imminent.
In the alternative, he said, Pistorius couldn’t escape a finding that he must have foreseen that he would kill someone behind the door when he fired the shots into the small cubicle, using the deadly ammunition.
Yet, Nel added, he reconciled himself with this and went ahead. “He proceeded to fire not one, but four shots.” Nel said Pistorius’s case would have been better for him if he emptied his magazine into the door.
According to him, on the very best scenario for Pistorius, he is guilty of culpable homicide. “A reasonable man, disabled or not, armed with a firearm, facing a closed door, would not have fired four shots through the door if ‘provoked’ only by a sound.”
But Nel said all facts pointed at premeditation (planning) as Pistorius had to think where his weapon was, he had to fetch it, take it out of its holster and get it into firing mode.
He then walked back to the bathroom, took up position, fired four shots and maintained a good grouping while firing.
Nel said if the court accepted the bathroom lights were on when he fired the shots, Pistorius couldn’t escape a murder conviction.
In attacking Pistorius’s credibility, Nel said at the end of the day, there were only two people in the house that morning – one is dead and the other is “more concerned about defending his life than entrusting the court with a truthful account of his conduct on that fateful morning”.
In setting the scene at the start of the day’s proceedings, Nel quoted from the Rumpole of the Bailey series about a UK barrister. In it the ageing Rumpole said to the judge: “Your Ladyship, a criminal trial is a very blunt implement to dig out the truth.”