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Pistorius Testimony Over, Back to Expert Witnesses

Oscar Pistorius has completed his testimony. The prosecutor picked apart every little detail hoping to show his version of events was not possible. The state is pushing an alternate theory, however, it sounds like it's nothing more than "it might have happened this way." He didn't get Oscar to admit that any of the elements of his theory were correct. The state's theory is predicated on an argument between the couple, and given Oscar's denial and the lack of any other witnesses present, I don't see how the theory can be considered proved in any way, let alone by proof beyond a reasonable doubt.

Here is the state's version, succinctly put on Twitter by reporter Barry Bateman, who has been in the courtroom every day:

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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...]

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Oscar Pistorius Takes the Stand

After a week of recess due to the illness of of one of the judge's fact-finders, the Oscar Pistorius trial resumed today, with the defense calling Dr. Botha The topics ranged from the angle of the bullets to when Reeva last ate and emptied her bladder. When he was done, Oscar took the stand.

From the reporters in the courtroom I follow via Twitter: [More...]

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Pistorius Trial: Crime Scene Evidence Problems

It was a dramatic day 8 at the Oscar Pistorius trial. The investigator who took over the case from the Hilton Botha, Colonel Vermulon, testified about the physical evidence. There are some serious problems.

Both sides now agree Oscar was on his stumps when he shot through the door, and after that, he used a cricket bat to bash in the door. Here's the rub: The state, which claimed at the bail hearing Oscar had his prostheses on when he shot at the door, now says he didn't have them on at either time: when he shot through the door or used the cricket bat. The defense says Oscar put them after shooting at the door and had them on when he used the bat.

In Oscar's bail affidavit, he says he shot through the door while on his stumps, then "I put on my prosthetic legs, ran back to the bathroom and tried to kick the toilet door open."[More...]

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Oscar Pistorius Trial: The Medical Testimony

Last week, Oscar Pistorius' defense team spent a lot of time trying to get witnesses to acknowledge that they might have confused the sound of gunshots with the sound of Oscar bashing in the door to to the toilet with a cricket bat. Here's an interesting You Tube video of an experiment comparing the two sounds. Conclusion: If you weren't able to listen to both sounds for comparison purposes, you could easily mistake the sound of the cricket bat for the sound of a gunshot.

Here's a recap of yesterday's testimony. In a nutshell, Reeva was shot three times, in the hip, the arm and the head. She would have died within a few breaths of the gunshot to the head.

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Oscar Pistorius Trial

I've been watching the Oscar Pistorius trial live on the internet since it began Monday. They are still on the first witness.

The format of the trial is different than in the U.S. In South Africa, the defendant has the right to make a statement addressing the charges at the beginning, before the state gives an opening argument. Oscar's lawyer read a detailed statement, in the first person as if Oscar was speaking, refuting the charges paragraph by paragraph. He went through the facts of what happened, and it was much like what the affidavit from the bail hearing. (The only difference I could discern was that he said Oscar went to the balcony to bring two fans back. In the bail application, they said there was one fan.) [More...]

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Court Allows Live TV and Audio For Oscar Pistorius Trial

Oscar Pistorius goes on trial Monday in South Africa for the killing of his girlfriend and illegal possession of ammunition. Yesterday, a judge ruled parts of the trial will be televised and live audio will be provided for all of it.

The trial will take place in the North Gauteng High Court in Pretoria.

Eyewitness News, eNCA and MultiChoice are launching a 24 hour Oscar trial channel on Sunday.

The televised portions include opening and closing arguments and the state's witnesses. Oscar's testimony, and the testimony of his witnesses will only be available on audio. [More...]

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Oscar Pistorius Court Appearance

Update: The Indictment and 107 person witness list is here, courtesy of journalist Barry Batemen of Eyewitness News. The first charge is the unlawful and intentional killing of a person. (On page 2 the indictment says it doesn't matter if the person killed not the person one intends to kill. In other words, the state doesn't have to prove he intended to kill Reeva Steenkamp, only that he intended to kill someone.) The second charge is illegal possession of 38 rounds of ammunition at his home. [More...]

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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...]

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Oscar Pistorius Bail Hearing: Day 4

Court has begun in the final bail hearing for Oscar Pistorius. The prosecutor is finishing his closing argument. He complains Oscar submitted an affidavit instead of testifying. Magistrate Desmond Nair asks: "Is he not permitted to bring the application by affidavit?" Nel says: "Nobody can force him to, he makes an election." (The correct answer is "yes".) [More...]

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Oscar Pistorius Bail Hearing Continued, Detective Removed From Case

Investigator Hilton Botha has been removed from the Oscar Pistorius case, but not suspended.

In court yesterday, the Judge questioned Botha about aspects of his testimony, but not the attempted murder charges against him. (See earlier post here.)

The new team of detectives will be led by "the country's top detective" Vinesh Moonoo. [More...]

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Oscar Pistorius: Day 3, Bail or No Bail?

At 11:00 a.m. SAT (2:00 am MT), defense lawyer Barry Roux and prosecutor Gerrie Nel will make their closing arguments as to why Oscar Pistorius should be allowed or refused bail.

Chief Magistrate Judge Desmond Nair will then make the decision. The big questions:

  • Will Magistrate Nair reconsider his prior ruling on premeditation and reduce the charge to a class five offense from a class six, which has a lesser standard to meet for bail?
  • If he stays with a class six offense, will he find exceptional circumstances for bail?
  • If he reduces the charge to a class five offense, will he find the ends of justice require bail?

I predict Oscar Pistorius will be granted bail and the judge will find Oscar is not a flight risk or a significant danger to himself or the community. I do not think he'll conclude, as many have since Investigator Hilton Botha's confused and misleading testimony yesterday, that the prosecution's case is DOA. Nor do I think the revelation of reinstated attempted murder charges against Botha will have any impact on his bail ruling, although it may complicate things. [More...]

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Investigator in Pistorius Case Charged With 7 Counts of Attempted Murder

In the "you can't make this stuff up" department: Hilton Botha, the lead investigator in the Oscar Pistorius murder case who testified at yesterday's bail hearing, is himself charged with 7 counts of attempted murder resulting from a drunken spree with other officers. They are charged with opening fire on a mini-bus filled with passengers. They allegedly were drunk and in a state vehicle.

Botha and his co-defendant officers have a hearing in May. Charges were filed in 2011, dropped, and then reinstated, of all days, yesterday. (Update: Police management is now saying the charges were reinstated days before Reeva Steenkamp's killing and Oscar's arrest.)

A police spokesman today confirmed the charges and said Botha will remain on Oscar's case. [More...]

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Oscar Pistorius: Day 2 Wrap-Up and Bail Prediction

(For what happened earlier on Day Two of Oscar Pistorius’ bail hearing, see here. What happened on Day One is here.)

The hearing resumed after lunch around 1:35 pm, SAT, with continued cross examination of Investigator Hilton Botha by Defense Attorney Roux. Court adjourned around 2:40 pm. The Magistrate granted a request by the defense that Oscar continue to be held at the Brooklyn Police station instead of being moved to a prison.

Court will reconvene at 11:00 a.m. tomorrow to hear legal arguments. The Magistrate may render his decision after arguments.

See below for what's likely to happen tomorrow, followed by what happened in the final hour of today's hearing. [More....]

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Oscar Pistorius: Bail Hearing, Day 2

The bail hearing for Oscar Pistorius resumes at 9:00 am South Africa Time. (Midnight, MT). (Updates will be at the top instead of the bottom.) The journalists I am following today on Twitter who are the source of my updates: @BarryBateman (Eyewitness News);@BBCAndrewH; David Smith (The Guardian); @AlexCrawford (Sky News); @KarenMaughan (legal journalist).

Final Update 12:45 pm SAT: Court breaks for lunch unitl 1:30 pm. "We're in terrible trouble" a junior prosecution official says when leaving court. [More...]

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