Oscar Pistorius's Cross-Examination

The press seems to be fawning over prosecutor Gerrie Nel and his "bully-ish" cross-examination of Oscar Pistorius. I was not impressed. I was glad the Judge called him out over his inappropriate sarcasm and laughter and claims Oscar's emotional outbursts were manufactured.

“You possibly think this is entertainment. It is not,” she told Nel. “Please restrain yourself.”

I don't think he proved Pistorius is lying about his account. Nel is trying to get Pistorius to admit to Nel's interpretation of the facts, and when he won't, because he doesn't agree with Nel's interpretation, he blasts him as a liar and murderer and tells him to accept responsibility.

It's not the prosecutor's job to tell a defendant to accept responsibility for the crime for which he's on trial and denies committing. It's his job to ask questions and test his version of the facts.

Unless a defendant's story is so rehearsed it never changes, there are obviously going to be minor discrepancies. It's not surprising that Oscar's memory is better on what led up to the shooting than during the moments of trauma afterwards when he realized Reeva was dead. [More...]


Whether there was one fan or two (and as I pointed out during opening statements, since the defense put both versions into evidence, they obviously were aware of the difference) and whether he stepped out onto the balcony or just reached for the fan on the balcony, is not going to decide the case. Mis-remembering some details does not make one a liar. It makes one human.

The prosecutor focuses on a few texts among hundreds. The majority show a close and loving relationship between the couple. He hasn't proved his theory that there was an argument that night. The prosecutor also refuses to acknowledge the mishandling of the crime scene evidence, which I think the judge and her factfinders will consider.

I don't see a premeditated murder case here. As to the lesser offense of culpable murder, that's a tougher call. But it seems to me the prosecutor overcharged the case and the testimony of most of his witnesses (particularly the neighbors) were inconsistent with each other. The media's praise of him and his bombastic style is misplaced. He's just substituting theatrics for his lack of proof, and throwing everything he can think of against the wall, hoping something sticks.

The judge has not hesitated to rein in the prosecutor. His approach may sell with the public, but it remains to be seen whether it helps or hurts his case with the judge -- the only person whose opinion matters in the end.

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    Oscar was unbelievable (5.00 / 1) (#8)
    by IndiDemGirl on Thu Apr 10, 2014 at 03:54:56 PM EST
    when answering questions about Reeva's texts. Texts where she claimed "you have picked on me" and described him as screaming at her and having tantrums.   Then he also said his ex-girlfriend was lying when she testified to the same behavior.

    The fact that these were only a few texts of many - he should have just acknowledged the truth that he sometimes did raise his voice or sometimes was picky about things.  

    Does this mean he's guilty of murder? No.  But it does seem like he's a person who tries to avoid responsibility for things.

    Well (none / 0) (#1)
    by jbindc on Thu Apr 10, 2014 at 12:33:43 PM EST
    His approach may sell with the public, but it remains to be seen whether it helps or hurts his case with the judge -- the only person whose opinion matters in the end.

    You're right, of course, we don't really know how it will play, but my guess is, since he has 30+ years of experience doing this, and is considered one of the top legal minds in South Africa (and has prosecuted some of the country's biggest cases), he certainly is doing this intentionally and knows what he's doing.  Maybe that's why it seems the press is "fawning" as you say - he has the cred to back it up?

    Any judge in the U.S. would have sanctioned (none / 0) (#2)
    by oculus on Thu Apr 10, 2014 at 12:35:13 PM EST
    the prosecutor by now for his extemporaneous exclamations which are not questions to the witness.

    If ifs and buts... (none / 0) (#3)
    by CoralGables on Thu Apr 10, 2014 at 12:46:25 PM EST
    There is, virtually, (none / 0) (#4)
    by NYShooter on Thu Apr 10, 2014 at 01:24:49 PM EST
    no similarity between our system and theirs.

    I watched a few minutes of Nel's cross this morning and was amazed at the extent to which the Prosecutor was allowed to indulge in what, to me, seemed like pure, over-the-top badgering.

    "Did you pull the trigger?"
    "I don't remember."
    "You don't remember?"
    "No, I don't remember."
    "How could you not remember?"
    "I don't know how to answer any other way."
    "Yes you do."
    "No, I don't remember."
    "Why don't you remember?"
    "I've answered again and again."
    "Answered what?"
    "That I don't remember."
    "Can you tell us why you don't remember?"
    "I don't know how to answer any other way."

    And, this went on and on and on.....

    And, if you think I'm exaggerating, just ask anyone who listened to the Prosecutor's interrogation.


    From what I've been reading (none / 0) (#5)
    by jbindc on Thu Apr 10, 2014 at 01:41:23 PM EST
    And what I've posted here before, South African lawyers are allowed to go much further in cross-examination than in the US - both prosecutors AND defense attorneys.

    Seems more like interrogation (none / 0) (#12)
    by Dadler on Thu Apr 10, 2014 at 06:07:39 PM EST
    Seems just like it actually. The legal and moral merits of such an aspect of their court system would make for a hell of a debate amongst attorneys.

    It's a system of cross similar to that i the UK... (none / 0) (#16)
    by gbrbsb on Fri Apr 11, 2014 at 03:08:38 AM EST
    ... where barristers, (ALL arrogant bullies from my experience so I presume they cultivate the traits for their job), use the "I put it to you..." and accuse defendants and witnesses of being liars, murderers, rapists, and even worse, and try to confuse, anger and wear down.

    It's no big deal for us, and SA follows UK procedural system so don't have depositions either where maybe a lot of repetition and harshness is done with away from the public gaze. And there are even harsher systems, countries where the accused gets to have a face off with witnesses so it can get even "bloodier".

    No, IMO Nel has not been much more of a bully than Roux who was admonished for badgering several times and imo should have been more during his crosses of Burger and Stipp considering they were just trying to comply with a civic duty and it could stop people coming forward if they are treated like wilful liars and bullied just because they testify what they believe they heard or saw. And Roux can object any time, so if he has only done so 2 or 3 times in 2 days he obviously hasn't seen cause to do so.

    And who can judge which system works better for arriving at the truth, the main purpose when you have the brutal killing of a young woman and an accused who won't give his version of the events to the police not even with his lawyer and can't even admit now under oath to having a finger on a trigger when a gun he's holding goes off  or that his having his father's amo in his safe, if it was his fathers as dad refused to sign for it, was illegal even when Nel is telling him it is. Certainly there's no move over here to change our system even if it may seem harsh to outsiders, and I've never heard we had a higher percentage of wrongful convictions compared with the US either, and could be even less, which in any case seem to arise mainly from mistaken "experts" or police bungling rather than from the prosecution or defence bullying witnesses.


    Differences are Minor (none / 0) (#19)
    by RickyJim on Fri Apr 11, 2014 at 08:53:51 AM EST
    There are probably indulgent judges in the US who would allow the same.  Do you remember Lance Ito allowing the defense extreme leeway to the defense lawyers to badger and accuse the police and lab technicians for days on end in the OJ Simpson case?  Unfortunately, because they are never conducted in English, you will probably never see a non adversarial trial like they have in most of the world.  A dossier, covering all the evidence, is prepared by an investigative judge.  At trial most of the questions are asked by a panel of judges who have studied the dossier.  The prosecution, defense (including defendant) and jury (if there is one like in France) can ask an individual question by raising their hand and being recognized by the presiding judge.

    Thank you again (none / 0) (#6)
    by Rumpole on Thu Apr 10, 2014 at 02:42:15 PM EST

    Great to read your SANE take on things. It has given me the will to continue watching the trial, though it is unpleasant to watch at times.

    After last night I wrote to a friend saying that it was getting to be unpleasant watching the trial, but added perhaps it's just an "overdose" of Nel. :)

    It is frustrating that SA seems to allow "non-professional" behaviour by lawyers. At the least, not what I am used to when watching trials.
    Nel "making his case" during cross, having rested for the State is confusing. I know that prosecutors do at times have to be aggressive, but I see Nel going out of his way to badger and confuse the witness. OP is not helping himself by volunteering extra information instead of just answering, though I find it hard to follow exactly what Nel IS asking at times. As I stated before, Nel comes across as a nasty, petulant little man.
     As far as banging on about detail in photographs. The whole point of making an issue of the police contaminating the crime scene, before and during taking the photos is that you CANT rely on the photo details.  
    Nel coming up with his own theory of events, based on nothing (that he has presented) seems more like your everyday post at a "True Gossip Forum" rather than a case presented in Court.

    Don't you think (none / 0) (#7)
    by jbindc on Thu Apr 10, 2014 at 03:30:37 PM EST
    Some of this is to deliberately provoke him since we've already heard and seen evidence that he can easily get jealous, was controlling with Reeva, has a quick temper, and can get out of control at times?

    Have we (none / 0) (#10)
    by Rumpole on Thu Apr 10, 2014 at 04:08:33 PM EST
    really seen evidence that proves what you state?

     I have seen a few texts which comprise the ONLY 4 instances of arguments over 1,700 messages. I don't see that proving much, other than they had not been together long and so did not have even MORE arguments. These were "tiffs" soon resolved.
     IMO it is ridiculous to go through a casual message, letter, email whatever and parse every word and phrase for nuances of meaning. Absolutely daft. What is next? Subliminal messages indicated by spelling mistakes  lol

    We have seen that the bulk of the messages show the opposite story... so what ya gonna believe? 4 arguments or hundreds of "not arguments"? Not everybody expresses themselves perfectly in typing a message never intended to be archived and analysed, and as OP stated, for his part at least, most communication was over the phone or face to face.

     Nel is trying to provoke OP and OP is at times falling falling for it.

     It is obviously within the norms of Courtroom behaviour in SA. I guess that it's not so bad as it would be if there was a jury to be taken in by such theatrics. I when deliberating.


    Witnesses have testified (5.00 / 1) (#17)
    by jbindc on Fri Apr 11, 2014 at 05:21:21 AM EST
    And evidence has been produced.  Whether the judge gives them any weight is up to her, but yes, there has been evidence produced.

    I agree with your interpretation (none / 0) (#9)
    by NYShooter on Thu Apr 10, 2014 at 04:06:03 PM EST
    of Nel, as I stated above: "pure, over-the-top badgering."

    But, what I don't understand is why Oscar isn't taking Nel's gift and capitalizing on it. As much as Nel's personality and brutish cross examination style is offensive Oscar's evasive and non-sensical answers make him seem dishonest.

    (Paraphrasing somewhat) When asked, "did you shoot through the door?" Instead of answering with a simple, "yes," he went on with a silly response such as, "the gun was in my hand." Then asked, "did you pull the trigger?" Again, instead of answering with a, "yes," he answered, "no." The prosecutor leaped on this, and, asked, incredulously, "You, already admitted you shot Reeva through the door. How did you shoot her if you didn't pull the trigger?" And, Oscar said something ridiculous like, "the gun was in my hand and I, accidently shot Reeva through the door." "But my finger was not on the trigger, I didn't pull the trigger; it was an accident."

    In trying to out-spar Nel with these silly verbal acrobatics all he did was appear evasive, slippery, and......guilty.

    Of course, this was my impression, but, in reading/hearing some expert analysis on tv, I wasn't alone.

    Well, the prosecution has sure shown ... (none / 0) (#11)
    by Donald from Hawaii on Thu Apr 10, 2014 at 04:09:33 PM EST
    ... that Oscar Pistorious is a self-entitled brat and even by a few rather callous media accounts, a crybaby.

    But capable of premeditated murder? Normally, I'm not one who tends to look very kindly upon people who are prone to emotive outbursts and crying jags. But in this particular instance, the defendant's very real tears and sobs appear to be a painfully obvious display of personal remorse, such that any willingness on his part to have engaged in a wanton act of murder in this case seems very highly unlikely, to me at least. I now consider him too much of an emotional weakling to have been capable of committing the capital crime for which he is charged.

    Does that sound like I'm making any sense, Jeralyn? I certainly don't mean to sound callous or derogatory toward Oscar Pistorious. I just think that underneath all the bravado, bluster and bombast of this world-class athlete, there actually lies a rather naïve and child-like soul which might be insensitive at times, but otherwise would not consciously seek to physically harm someone he loves. Thus, any idea of premeditation on his part is almost entirely out of the question, as far as I'm concerned.

    I do agree with you that if the events in question do point to a crime having been committed, it would be more likely in support of a charge of culpable homicide, given what looks to be the defendant's recklessness in shooting through a closed door without ever knowing who or what was on the other side.

    I certainly don't believe that Ms. Steenkamp herself was ever his intended target at any time. From everything I've watched, heard and read thus far, I think that when he heard an unfamiliar noise, he just panicked and freaked out and started firing without ever really fully engaging his cognitive functions. At the very least, it constitutes a wholly disastrous mistake in personal judgment on his part, the consequences with which he will no doubt have to live for the rest of his days.

    Ultimately, though, it's up to presiding Judge Thokozile Masipa to determine Mr. Pistorious' fate, and it's not our call as observers. Agreed again, state prosecutor Gerrie Nel is over the top, certainly by American standards, and his badgering of the defendant was at times quite ugly to watch.

    But given Judge Masipa's rather stern rebuke of Mr. Nel today over his inappropriate laughter at the defendant's answers -- which compelled his immediate apology to her, and hopefully chastened him for the remainder of the trial -- I'd offer that she clearly has his number and that the guy's campy TV melodramatic-style theatrics probably aren't doing anything at all to bolster the state's case with her.


    However this case turns out... (5.00 / 1) (#13)
    by Dadler on Thu Apr 10, 2014 at 06:09:18 PM EST
    ...I think it's nuts for the South African government to let this guy near guns. He has proven completely irresponsible with them, this alleged incident aside. He is a menace to the public welfare with a gun. Period.

    That's for sure! (none / 0) (#15)
    by Donald from Hawaii on Thu Apr 10, 2014 at 08:03:54 PM EST
    People who treat guns as though they were toys really have no business being allowed anywhere near firearms. Oscar's license should've been revoked when he had that mishap in the restaurant.

    This is also (none / 0) (#18)
    by jbindc on Fri Apr 11, 2014 at 05:27:50 AM EST
    But capable of premeditated murder? Normally, I'm not one who tends to look very kindly upon people who are prone to emotive outbursts and crying jags. But in this particular instance, the defendant's very real tears and sobs appear to be a painfully obvious display of personal remorse, such that any willingness on his part to have engaged in a wanton act of murder in this case seems very highly unlikely, to me at least..

    Classic actions of those who engage in domestic (verbal) abuse.  I don't know if that happened here, or if they will explore that avenue in court, but between some of the texts and the behavior other people have witnessed, those too could be classic verbal abuse moves.  But, in many cases, abusers do show remorse afterward.  And of course, he could really just be more upset because he faces a long prison term.

    Tears can be interpreted many ways.


    Normally (none / 0) (#23)
    by sj on Fri Apr 11, 2014 at 11:27:01 AM EST
    you and I are miles apart on the "lawn order" issues. But I completely agree with you here. I haven't (and won't) watch the trial, but yes indeed: tears can be interpreted many ways.

    In general, I discount value judgements anyone makes about how another person responds to a given situation. Lots of innocent people have been under suspicion for not reacting the "right" way. No doubt some guilty ones were not suspected because the  did react the "right" way.

    Observation of someone else's emotional responses is just a pi$$ poor way of trying to divine guilt or innocence. And yet, there are lots of people -- many of them in law enforcement -- who feel they can do just that.


    To be fair (none / 0) (#24)
    by jbindc on Fri Apr 11, 2014 at 11:38:21 AM EST
    Many, many defense attorneys do it all the time as well. I know - I worked for a judge and saw it every week.  They tell their clients to look "remorseful" and to apologize when making a plea, or at sentencing. They tell them to hide their emotions at trial (especially in cases where an emotion may be relevant to the charges). They also will make arguments to the jury that their client couldn't possibly be guilty because look - does a guilty man feel remorse after ___?  

    And in the case of OP, I bet he DOES feel genuine remorse.  I believe he's a hot head, who at the time of the murder was Mr. On Top of the World and could do no wrong. I believe they fought, and she ended up dead because he lost his cool.  What I don't believe is that he plotted her death out for hours or even weeks because he hated her, but that isn't necessary for a premeditated murder charge. Premeditation can take place over seconds.  In this case, I just don't think his story makes any sense.


    This is pretty much where my belief falls (5.00 / 1) (#29)
    by leftwig on Fri Apr 11, 2014 at 12:54:36 PM EST
    as well, but there is still some defense to be presented.  I just haven't found anything in his story that makes me complelled to believe he really thought it was an intruder behind that door.  

    1. She's awake when he gets up to move the fans inside. They have a brief exchange about him not being able to sleep.
    2. The fans weren't actually on the balcony, but were in the doorway between the bedroom and balcony, so he didn't actually go out onto the patio (ie was in the bedroom within a few feet of the bed the entire time).
    3. Had no idea as he was standing in the bedroom moving fans around that Reeva got out of bed and went into the bathroom.
    4. First thought when hearing a sound in the bathroom (which was quite a ways away from where he was) was that it was a noisy intruder, not Reeva.
    5. Never checked, or considered checking on Reeva before getting his gun and waddling down the dark hall toward the bathroom, while feeling very vulnerable on his stumps.
    6. Hears someone slam the wc door in the bathroom after he yelled out for them to get out and Reeva to call police.
    7. Feels someone is coming out of the wc to get him even though the door was locked (I understand he may have not known the door was locked, but the fact that it was locked calls into question his statements that it seemed like someone was coming out of the wc to get him).
    8. Never hears Reeva yell out either for him to stop when a shot misses, or in pain/for help when she gets hit with the first 2 bullets.
    9. Says bullets were ringing in his ears, so he didn't know if anyone was yelling or not, but stops shooting after 4 shots which seems to indicate somehow he knew he hit something or that something changed the situation where there was no longer a threat behind the wc door.
    10. Witness(es) call security reporting yelling and gunshots and security calls him and his response was that he's OK or that everything is OK.

    I don't know that this is proof of murder, but the actions certainly don't seem to back a claim of mistaken identity.

    And the Three Shouts to Riva (none / 0) (#31)
    by RickyJim on Fri Apr 11, 2014 at 03:01:36 PM EST
    He mentioned three distinct times he yelled to Riva before shooting and there was no answer to any of them.
    "It's not probable. It's not possible," the prosecutor said, asking why Steenkamp never responded to Pistorius' panicked shouts of an intruder when she was in the cubicle.

    "I agree with Mr. Nel she would have been terrified," Pistorius said, "but I don't think she would have shouted out ... In her mind I must have been retreating toward the bathroom." Nel responded that gave Steenkamp even more reason to talk to Pistorius, who was meters away.

    Read more here:


    For such a small bedroom area, (none / 0) (#37)
    by Mr Natural on Sat Apr 12, 2014 at 11:13:50 AM EST
    there has been a stunning amount of b/s piled into it.

    That's just what I was talking about (none / 0) (#26)
    by sj on Fri Apr 11, 2014 at 11:50:48 AM EST
    Many, many defense attorneys do it all the time as well. I know - I worked for a judge and saw it every week.  They tell their clients to look "remorseful" and to apologize when making a plea, or at sentencing. They tell them to hide their emotions at trial (especially in cases where an emotion may be relevant to the charges).
    It's all about optics and expected "norms".

    I agree. Someone's emotional response (none / 0) (#25)
    by vml68 on Fri Apr 11, 2014 at 11:45:01 AM EST
    is a poor way to try to divine guilt or innocence.

    And, yet, for some reason I find Pistorius' constant throwing up and crying a bit much. He sure has a weak stomach for someone who seems to have been pretty trigger happy. It just feels like an act to me.


    Lots of bullies (5.00 / 1) (#32)
    by sj on Fri Apr 11, 2014 at 04:52:42 PM EST
    are also crybabies when called to account for their own actions.

    Making no claims that this does (or does not) apply to Pistorius. I'm just sayin'...


    I do wonder what he eats for breakfast. (5.00 / 1) (#33)
    by oculus on Fri Apr 11, 2014 at 05:21:14 PM EST
    Syrup of ipecac?

    Wouldn't be a bad strategy (none / 0) (#44)
    by jbindc on Mon Apr 14, 2014 at 08:13:44 AM EST
    If part of your goal is to look as emotionally upset as possible in the hopes it helps your defense.

    If that's the case here, which of course, I do not know.


    This "strategy" (none / 0) (#45)
    by MO Blue on Mon Apr 14, 2014 at 10:19:57 AM EST
    is resulting in adjournments whenever the questioning gets too intense allowing Petorius to regroup during these breaks in the questioning.

    Did he throw up that night? (none / 0) (#47)
    by Lora on Tue Apr 15, 2014 at 02:37:56 PM EST
    For all he's throwing up in court, did he throw up when he "discovered" Reeva's body?

    Actually, a good question (none / 0) (#48)
    by jbindc on Tue Apr 15, 2014 at 03:01:03 PM EST
    You could be right. (none / 0) (#34)
    by Donald from Hawaii on Sat Apr 12, 2014 at 03:12:54 AM EST
    But personally, having watched Pistorious on television, I just think that he's actually a weak nelly, as are most verbal bullies, and that he panicked. Further, while it's been established that he has behaved insensitively toward at least one past girlfriend, he has no history of having physically abused any of them, at least none of which I'm aware. It's one thing to berate and chastise a girlfriend or spouse, and another thing entirely to whip out a gun, terrorize her, and then blow her away with four shots through a closed door just because you're mad at her.

    That said, this was an entirely avoidable incident that should have never happened -- and it probably wouldn't have, had Pistorious simply kept his wits about him and exercised sound judgment and common sense that night. His panicky state can be offered by his counsel as a mitigating circumstance in determining whether or not he's actually guilty of capital murder. But it should not necessarily follow that it's therefore to be considered a "Get Out of Jail Free" card, hence Jeralyn's admission that avoiding a conviction on a charge of culpable homicide might ultimately prove problematic for him.

    A young woman is dead, and while I do believe Pistorious' remorse over her death to be very real, his evasive answers about not only the night in question but pervious firearms incidents in which he was involved suggest an serious inability on his part to take personal responsibility for wrongdoing, both inadvertent and otherwise. And that does bother me.



    Hasn't Nel Gotten to the Crux of the Matter? (none / 0) (#14)
    by RickyJim on Thu Apr 10, 2014 at 06:22:00 PM EST
    In the previous thread on this trial I wrote:
    Í assume that under cross examination he will be asked:

    1. What made you so sure that Reeva was in bed and not in the bathroom?

    2. She didn't reply to your scream that she call the police, did she?  

    3. Why didn't you wait outside the alcove with your gun drawn and comfort Reeva instead of going to the bathroom door and opening fire?

    Has he been asked these?

    Yes he has (none / 0) (#20)
    by IndiDemGirl on Fri Apr 11, 2014 at 09:21:56 AM EST
    asked him 1 and 2, according to today's (Friday's)

    Close to your number 3 question (none / 0) (#21)
    by MO Blue on Fri Apr 11, 2014 at 10:39:07 AM EST
    Nel questions why he did not try to take Steenkamp to safety through the main bedroom door. Pistorius says he cannot comment on hypothetical events.

    Ha! (none / 0) (#22)
    by jbindc on Fri Apr 11, 2014 at 10:43:39 AM EST
    That's not hypothetical!  It's a direct question - "Why didn't you...?" not "What do you think would have happened?"

    How was Reeva dressed? (none / 0) (#27)
    by RickyJim on Fri Apr 11, 2014 at 12:05:46 PM EST
    Was, as I've read on a blog, she fully dressed when killed?  That, of course, would cast doubt on Pistorius' claim that he thought she was still in bed.

    not fully dressed (5.00 / 2) (#28)
    by SuzieTampa on Fri Apr 11, 2014 at 12:26:51 PM EST
    I think it was a T-shirt and shorts, or something similar that a person could have been sleeping in. What I find more unusual is that she would lock the toilet door and not cry out when he first yelled to her that someone was in the house.

    Many abusive men are very remorseful afterward, which is why many women forgive them and stay with them. Many women don't chastise jealous and controlling men for fear of another outburst. I don't know if this was the scenario in this case, but loving text messages and remorse don't prove someone wasn't abusive.

    I have no idea how the judge will rule, in regard to premeditated murder, but I can't see how he can possibly escape negligent homicide.


    Say what? (none / 0) (#35)
    by Donald from Hawaii on Sat Apr 12, 2014 at 03:45:22 AM EST
    SuzieTampa: "Many abusive men are very remorseful afterward, which is why many women forgive them and stay with them. Many women don't chastise jealous and controlling men for fear of another outburst. I don't know if this was the scenario in this case, but loving text messages and remorse don't prove someone wasn't abusive."

    That may be true, but conversely, neither should the existence of such messages and remorse be construed as prima facie evidence that someone has been abusive. One does not infer that a man is guilty of domestic violence by simply asking him when he stopped beating his wife, a variation of which you're doing here. The burden of proof rests with the prosecution to prove a defendant's guilt, and not with the defendant to prove his innocence.



    But neither does it suggest guilt. (none / 0) (#39)
    by Donald from Hawaii on Sun Apr 13, 2014 at 02:20:16 PM EST
    That's all I'm saying, that it's inappropriate to suggest that the remorse shown by Oscar Pistrious is somehow evidence of him being an abusive bully and / or guilty of premeditated murder. It's just simply remorse, and in his case you needs buckets to catch it.

    Yes, bullies can feel remorseful. But so can their victims, and as well as the bystanders who watched the wrongdoing occur to someone else but did nothing to stop it.

    In Pistorious's case, I just don't see the evidence that shows him guilty of willful murder. Rather, I see someone who is stunted in his own adolescence, and also held captive by the same paranoia about race and crime that afflicts so many white Afrikaaners in his country in the post-Apartheid era.

    And I see someone whose aforementioned paranoia led him to make a catastrophic mistake in personal judgment that cost someone her life, and whose aforementioned emotional immaturity leads him to offer evasive answers about his own responsibility when confronted by authority figures with an unpleasant situation of his own doing -- not unlike a 13-year-old who gets questioned by his mother regarding his having taken the family car for a short spin around the block while she was at work. (I know that's an awkward analogy, Tracy, but having also parented adolescents yourself, I think you probably understand my meaning.)

    From my perspective, the defendant's gratuitous displays of personal remorse tend to underscore my opinion about his emotional immaturity. When coupled with the evidence presented thus far, it leads me to believe that his personality is more reflective of someone who is a diva rather than a an outright bully in the traditional sense of the term, and that he is likely incapable of premeditated murder of his girlfriend.

    I think he's instead incredibly vulnerable from a legal standpoint on the charge of culpable homicide.


    Nel cross-examination (none / 0) (#43)
    by kookbook on Sun Apr 13, 2014 at 10:49:32 PM EST
    Not sure what the SA rules are but the amount of argumentative questioning is beyond comprehension.  It's nearly to the point of two idiots at a table in a disagreement arguing as follows.  "Shut up". "No, You shut up." "I'm not shutting up, you shut up." "You shut up."...... I'm quite all right with a judge allowing latitude, but so much of what Nel asks has about as much probative value as the argument I've set out in quotes above.  And yet it goes on and on.  And then there's OP's defense counsel who seemingly hasn't advised OP to listen closely to the question, and if you believe your answer will hurt your theory of the case, then answer it truthfully but as succinctly as possible.  The cardinal rule that OP seems not to be aware of is this; if you as a witness are forced into a concession on cross-examination by virtue of your succinct answer, and you would like to expound upon it so as to put the answer into context, thereby ameliorating the damage, WAIT.  Wait, that is, wait until re-direct when your attorney, who has been listening closely to every point, "rehabilitates" your answer by asking you to put the prior answer into context.  Example.  Nel asks OP: "you pulled the trigger didn't you Mr. Pistorious."  OP: "Yes, my lady."  On re-direct OP's attorney revisits the question reminding OP of his answer to the question to which OP will acknowledge his prior concession.   He would then ask, for example: "Mr. Pistorious, please explain to the judge, what was your state of mind at the precise moment you pulled the trigger." And back to the point of endless argumentative questioning from Nel without objection from Roux.  All Roux needs to do, from time to time is interject, "Your honor, there's only so much argument and repetition that reasonably be tolerated, but what Mr.Nel incessantly does is incomprehensible."  But, it's easy to armchair quarterback and I guess the two main attorneys know what they're doing. I guess.            

    I think OP truly feels remorse, but (none / 0) (#46)
    by leftwig on Mon Apr 14, 2014 at 12:26:11 PM EST
    thats not the task before the court.  The task is to find out whether he murdered someone or whether he was negligent in any way that lead to the death of another human.  IT seems his defense has morphed a bit, going from defending himself  against a perceived threat, to now an accidental firing of his weapon.  He seems to be trying to play it off as he got his gun to protect himself while going to investigate a noise and he just accidentally fired, but I don't see that the evidence supports him on that.  The pistol is a semi-automatic, so you have to pull the trigger with each shot, so I don't think that anyone would believe that he accidentally pulled the trigger 4 times.