Oscar Pistorius Granted Bail

This may have been the most long and drawn out bail decision ever. It went one way, then the other, for over an hour. It wasn't until the last 2 minutes you knew Oscar Pistorius was getting bail.

Here are the main points expressed by the judge in making his findings and rulings: [More...]

Magistrate Nair does not think the state has a strong case. It is all circumstantial, but that is sufficient enough for a category 6 offense.

To grant bail, exceptional circumstances are needed.

If defence is able to show the state has a weak case, that would be an exceptional circumstance.

Investigator Botha made several mistakes and concessions. He blundered on the testosterone. He failed to get the phone records. He didn't check on the calls Oscar made. He didn't check out potential violent threats alleged to have been made by Oscar. He compromised the crime scene. He didn't test the theories in the Oscar's affidavit. He conceded that Reeva would have locked herself in toilet if Oscar shouted. He didn't find a spent bullet in the toilet the defense recovered.

Nair: I cannot agree with the contention that the concessions and credibility of the Detective means State case is not strong.

Nair: This court is placed with no option but to place weight on what is before me.

In as much as the defence has found concessions, the improbabilities highlighted by Investigator Botha are pronounced.

I have difficulty with why the accused didn't ascertain the whereabouts of his girlfriend. Also why the deceased would not scream.

"I have a problem also with why the accused would venture further into danger... What if the intruder was waiting for him?" Why would the accused venture into danger knowing the intruder was in the bathroom?

The defence has failed to show exceptional circumstances. But the State can't show that its own case is so strong and watertight that Oscar must choose to flee or evade trial.

(Oscar is sobbing, clasping tissue and head in hands)

Why would the accused duck and dive all over the world when at best he faces culpable homicide??

I cannot find that the accused is a flight risk.

The accused has shown tendencies in aggression, says Nair. The threats, foul language, accidental gun shot not in dispute

The state has placed evidence under oath that the accused has a propensity to commit violence. But Botha did not spend enough time to show the accused has a propensity to commit violence.

"No one has put concrete evidence before me that he has a propensity to commit violence."

There are no grounds for denying bail on claims of having a violent past

Nair cites case law holding that the court shouldn't ignore the personal circumstances of a bail applicant. Cites more case law.

If release on bail would cause outrage, the state should have shown me where this shock and outrage would be, says Nair. "I would need to have evidence before me in that regard." It seems release would not cause public outrage.

"The accused is not a flight risk and does not show a propensity to violence." Nair finds state has not shown grounds to deny bail.

"One should differentiate between individuals with previous convictions or outstanding matters against them and those who don't."

"Ordinarily one gets flimsy affidavits but in this instance the accused has reached out to try to meet the state's case."

"I come to the conclusion that the accused has made a case to be released on bail."

Bailed is fixed at an amount of R1 million (1 million Rand) including R100,000 in cash.

He will be staying at an undisclosed location (not his house, which is the one in the photo above.)

The next setting is June 4.

And with that (and some more bail conditions) #OscarPistorius walks out of court.

Congratulations, Barry Roux.

And many thanks to the overseas media for their live-tweeting of the hearings, especially @BarryBateman (Eyewitness News);@KarenMaughan (legal journalist);@BBCAndrewH (BBC's Andrew Harding); David Smith (The Guardian); @AlexCrawford (Sky News.)

< Oscar Pistorius Bail Hearing: Day 4 | Friday Open Thread >
  • The Online Magazine with Liberal coverage of crime-related political and injustice news

  • Contribute To TalkLeft

  • Display: Sort:
    The importance of the investigators failing (none / 0) (#1)
    by sarcastic unnamed one on Fri Feb 22, 2013 at 09:16:27 AM EST
    to wear protective shoe covers in this case cannot be overstated.

    That said, it certainly does not look like the prosecution met the required standard for denying bail.

    I Think He Did It... (none / 0) (#3)
    by ScottW714 on Fri Feb 22, 2013 at 09:44:52 AM EST
    ...but at this point with the what I know, there is no way I would vote to convict.  The evidence, at this point, is not enough for a conviction under US standards of 'beyond a reasonable doubt'.

    The judge pretty mush described the doubts I have on both sides, Pistorius' behavior was not normal, suspicious to me.  But I am at a loss by the blunders committed by Investigator Botha.  It's really hard to take anything he said seriously.  I also wonder what will happen if he is convicted before the trial.  In any case, he should not be investigating murders.


    no way beyond reasonable doubt? (none / 0) (#13)
    by Jack203 on Fri Feb 22, 2013 at 01:35:16 PM EST
    It is well well beyond "reasonable" doubt he did it and it wasn't an accident.  There is ABSOLUTELY no logical explanation for his behavior, so if he wasn't on mind altering drugs or drunk out of his mind,  it was a very likely a crime of passion/rage.

    If reasonable doubt is about 90%, I am well above that in my early beliefs on what happened.  This can change of course during the trial, but I do not believe the evidence presented does not meet any standard of reasonable doubt.

    What do you doubt?  Looking at the evidence presented so far, what makes you possibly think it was an accident?


    please take your guilt-mongering (5.00 / 1) (#14)
    by Jeralyn on Fri Feb 22, 2013 at 02:03:09 PM EST
    elsewhere or stop stating your opinion as fact.

    On the contrary (none / 0) (#15)
    by Jack203 on Fri Feb 22, 2013 at 02:51:08 PM EST
    I am very interested in hearing why anyone would think it was an accident.

    I originally thought it was most likely an accident, until I read the available information on the case.


    OPs explanation (none / 0) (#17)
    by smott on Fri Feb 22, 2013 at 03:09:12 PM EST
    Would have this as an extraordinarily reckless/careless accident. IMO.
    All evidence to the contrary is circumstantial.

    2008 conviction in South Africa: (none / 0) (#22)
    by oculus on Fri Feb 22, 2013 at 08:46:27 PM EST
    Your Standard... (none / 0) (#18)
    by ScottW714 on Fri Feb 22, 2013 at 03:39:32 PM EST
    ...in your post is "it was a very likely a crime of passion/rage."  Seems like there is doubt in there, one might even call it reasonable.  It's obvious this wasn't pre-planned, so the only option in my mind is rage.  Even you have some doubt about it, otherwise you would have just stated it was a crime of passion.

    While I agree, but to me it's more like 'seems likely' but I would never convict on that, nor would I convict on odd behavior.  There is no reason to get so worked up, we simply agree with the threshold we need to convict someone of murder, we agree with what we think happened.

    The odd behavior isn't once sided, some of the things he did is something I can't imagine him doing if this wasn't an accident, nor can I imagine him doing some of the things if he did it on purpose.  It's just plain odd behavior and it's not stopped, the guy is basically in a constant state of weeping days after incident.  

    That being said, to me killing someone by mistake, even in your own home, because you fired your gun, is manslaughter.  It's what they charge people accidentally kill a neighbor while shooting at an intruder.  Discharging a weapon, not matter the situation, has to be done with discretion and when it's not, you should be accountable for that decision.


    there's nothing to "think" about it. (none / 0) (#21)
    by cpinva on Fri Feb 22, 2013 at 06:27:47 PM EST
    I Think He Did It...

    of course he did it, that isn't the issue at hand. why he did it is the issue. was it simply a tragic accident, resulting from confusion and fear? or, was there malicious intent on his part?

    i have no idea. that, of course, is the purpose of an investigation and trial. so far, the investigation part doesn't appear to have gone quite according to procedure. i am reminded of the OJ case.


    Do we know if (none / 0) (#19)
    by SuzieTampa on Fri Feb 22, 2013 at 03:55:16 PM EST
    guards, relatives, medical personnel, etc., who were on the scene beforehand wore some sort of shoe covering? I'm also curious what sort of evidence they might be looking for from the floor. They aren't looking for evidence of an intruder. Both OP and RS walked on those floors many times.  


    I haven't followed this extremely closely (none / 0) (#2)
    by Reconstructionist on Fri Feb 22, 2013 at 09:24:39 AM EST
      but my first impression is that this whole thing seems like what I would expect if Lewis Carroll and Jonathan Swift were magically transported to the present day to collaborate on a crime novel, perhaps working from an Elmore Leonard outline.

      The South African system appears quite different than ours, so I hesistate  to do more than ask questions, but, I do wonder if it was shrewd for the defense to so thoroughly lay out its theory and arguments in support of it at a bail hearing. It's not clear to me the prosecution and cops would have figured out the holes in its case if they had not been explained to them in such excruciating detail.

    Good point. As usual, the cops & prosecutors (none / 0) (#4)
    by Mr Natural on Fri Feb 22, 2013 at 09:49:01 AM EST
    bigfooted their way into court, self assured of a slam dunk, open and shut, [insert favorite metaphor for hubris mediated delusion here], case.  And which the defense attorneys picked apart, as is their wont.

    It's always (none / 0) (#5)
    by smott on Fri Feb 22, 2013 at 10:04:00 AM EST
    Astonishing to me how experienced investigators make seemingly obvious mistakes...contaminating the crime scene, not checking phone info and on and on.

    to me in this particular case, but I'm not a trained crime investigator, so who knows.

    If you need to look for DNA evidence, ... (2.00 / 1) (#9)
    by Donald from Hawaii on Fri Feb 22, 2013 at 01:10:17 PM EST
    ... then congratulations, you've just possibly contaminated the crime scene with outside material that's adhered to the soles of your shoes. A human body sloughs off cells all the time, and if you move around unprotected without shoe covers and gloves, it's not inconceivable that you could inadvertantly transmit someone else's DNA to the scene -- including your own. That's why.

    Thanks for the tip. (none / 0) (#12)
    by sarcastic unnamed one on Fri Feb 22, 2013 at 01:27:37 PM EST
    In this case I don't see any way that DNA evidence on the floor would have any importance, which is why I feel the shoe cover issue is a red herring.

    OP shot RS in the home they shared. I'm pretty sure the floors are covered with both their DNA, especially the floors in the bedroom, bathroom and connecting hallway.


    Cont'd. (none / 0) (#10)
    by Donald from Hawaii on Fri Feb 22, 2013 at 01:13:32 PM EST
    It's just standard operating procedure for the police. You don't make exceptions, in any event, because sometimes things at the crime scene aren't always as they initially appear -- as we're undoubtedly learning here in this instance, given the mistakes that were made.

    I am having a similar thought (none / 0) (#16)
    by Trickster on Fri Feb 22, 2013 at 03:05:39 PM EST
    Of course, you never know what is going to be needed, so it's a major mistake, but at the same time I don't see how DNA or anything to do with the condition of the bedroom floor is going to factor in to this scenario.

    Basically the state is in the early phase of building its case. I wouldn't put too much weight on what was presented at the bail hearing.


    By US standards (none / 0) (#24)
    by expy on Fri Feb 22, 2013 at 08:57:17 PM EST
    yes, inexcusable.

    By South African standards, we don't know, because we don't know what resources law enforcement has available.

    Unfortunately there are parts of the world where he expense of purchasing routine supplies such as the boot covers the police didn't wear is not trivial. The excuse given of being out of the supplies may be quite genuine in that part of the world.  


    Also I never (none / 0) (#6)
    by smott on Fri Feb 22, 2013 at 10:10:33 AM EST
    heard the explanation for the shell casing out in the hall, which implies the weapon was discharged out there.  Was the slug ever found?  When was this shot fired compared to the others?
    We know there are ear witnesses saying they heard a shot, and then some time later more shots.
    That would seem to support OP firing once out in the hall and only later entering the bathroom and firing through the toilet door.

    Incompetence exposed or forced? (none / 0) (#8)
    by goilwell on Fri Feb 22, 2013 at 01:00:49 PM EST

    If every defendant in this country had a fraction of the money that O.P. has, we would see just how wide, deep, and pervasive is the incompetence of most official investigators.

    In a final flip-flop, I confess that it seems very likely that O.P. is going to be found not guilty of the premeditated murder he is charged with, and imo, did commit --- if the charges aren't dropped.

    I had not previously seen/heard any S.A. officials
    talk about the case, but now, having done so, they do not seem much more competent than the investigating officer.

    I would never underestimate ... (none / 0) (#11)
    by Donald from Hawaii on Fri Feb 22, 2013 at 01:18:46 PM EST
    ... the competence of anyone in law enforcement. Remember the movie Fargo with Marge, the police chief who came across as a country bumpkin without a clue, but who was actually keenly observant and didn't miss one?

    I was 98% sure he was getting bail from the first (none / 0) (#23)
    by expy on Fri Feb 22, 2013 at 08:46:31 PM EST
    I have -0- knowledge or familiarity with South African law, but I listened to the live stream of the hearing and found it fascinating.

    I expected that bail would be granted simply because of the depth of the statements and analysis in the Judge's oral ruling. My US-based experience is that a Judge denying bail would tend to do so quickly -- it would have been easy enough to say that the charges are serious and the defense has failed to demonstrate special circumstances warranting release under South African law.

    But to me, the long explanation indicated that the court wanted the media & the victim's family to get a sense of the difficulty of the decision and the care put into it. So the longer the hearing dragged on (and on, and on), the more convinced I became that bail was being granted.  

    I got the sense that the Judge was frustrated with the poor quality of the police work.  I think he is personally skeptical of the defense account of an accidental shooting, but I think he can also see that the prosecution is going to have a hard sustaining its burden of proof.

    The Medical Examiner's Report (none / 0) (#25)
    by thadjock on Fri Feb 22, 2013 at 10:16:42 PM EST
    on the injuries to Reeva's body, could be the most problematic evidence for Team Pistorius to explain away. Especially if it supports that she had been beaten with the cricket bat prior or subsequent to her entering the toilet, or if the bat became bloodied simply by being adjacent to the body/blood on floor, following it's use to break the door down.  I would expect any blood splatter/pattern evidence is going to be complicated to establish, given that he retrieved her (what must have been) badly hemorraging body and carried it through the house and down the stairs.  

    A Procedural question:  Do I understand correctly that his trial will be before a Magistrate with no Jury?  Is that typical for a Level 6 offense in SA?  Or is that the option of the defendant?

    I recall early in the proceedings, a SA reporter mentioning that he would likely be tried before a Jury and that they would have the option to decide on a lesser charge if they felt the State had overreached given the evidence presented. Perhaps that was the case if the Magistrate had lowered the original charge from a level 6 to 5?

    Also: Is there no chance at all of a full acquittal or a suspended sentence with probation for OP due to SA's laws regarding home intruders? The way it's been presented in the media, He'd still be on trial for murdering the burglar he mistook Reeva for.

    South African Law (none / 0) (#27)
    by RickyJim on Sat Feb 23, 2013 at 10:01:14 AM EST
    CNN has a long piece on South African criminal law.  As for your question about the triers of fact, it says:
    A high court trial could take place before a single judge or before a judge and two lay people, who are usually legal experts such as advocates, academics or retired magistrates, who are known as "assessors." These assessors are restricted though to answering questions of fact.

    Their role is to advise the judge, who is not obliged to follow their guidance on questions of law, but they may overrule a single judge on questions of fact.

    Why will Pistorius face a judge rather than a jury trial?

    South Africa abolished jury trials in 1969, while the country was under apartheid, due to fears of racial prejudice by white jurors.

    interesting details (none / 0) (#29)
    by thadjock on Sat Feb 23, 2013 at 10:38:06 AM EST
    thanks for the clarification, the variants of legal process around the world are endless, which makes this case additionally fascinating well beyond it's sensationalistic aspects.

    It comes as no surprise The tsunami of SA law facts swirling around in the media is often conflicting and of variable authority.


    Latest reactions from Reeva's family (none / 0) (#26)
    by SuzieTampa on Sat Feb 23, 2013 at 09:11:44 AM EST

    The Trial (none / 0) (#28)
    by thadjock on Sat Feb 23, 2013 at 10:20:37 AM EST
    by Judge only, no jury: advantage defense?

    Given SA law on home intruders, can one conceive an outcome from the trial that exhonorates OP with no prison time?

    Regardless of intent he's admitted he killed someone, it's not disputed that he alone fired the gun that killed her.  Though His lawyer ( Kenny Oldwage )does have an impressive CV:  successfully defended a man after (allegedly) killing Nelson Mandela's great-grandchild in a drunk driving accident. I'm guessing Team Pistorius is banking on him being able to work similar miracles here.

    International hero murders supermodel gf, fountain of inspiration Mother dies when hero was 15, big brother carl a god-squad evangeliser, oy...the screenplay writes itself.  casting suggestions: jude law or simon pegg for our protagonist.