Olympian Oscar Pistorius’s trial in South Africa for allegedly murdering his girlfriend continues on, despite Pistorius throwing up during witness testimony. He vomited after seeing disturbing photographs of his dead girlfriend. It is undisputed that he shot his girlfriend, model and law graduate Reeva Steenkamp, four times. His defense is that he thought she was an intruder when she woke up to use the bathroom…
In South Africa, Pistorius is not entitled to a jury trial but a trial to be decided by a judge and two lay people — assessors.
The prosecution has introduced a text message from Pistorius’s girlfriend stating, “I’m scared of u sometimes and how you snap at me and of how you will react to me….” The prosecution also called an ex-girlfriend who testified that Pistorius carried around a gun and once threatened another driver with it in a fit of road rage.
Besides evidence that he may have a short fuse, the prosecution has not introduced any evidence establishing a motive Pistorius would have to kill his girlfriend, or actual examples that his temper caused him to act violently to those he loved.
South Africa does require proof beyond a reasonable doubt. It seems to me that they don’t have that here. Why would he intentionally kill someone he loved? Why or how is his explanation that he thought it was an intruder unreasonable? We will see how the trial unfolds. It is on a recess starting April 4, and will begin again in May.
Jenny M. Brandt is a criminal defense and appellate attorney in the Bay Area, California. She loves all things criminal law, celebrity gossip, and corgis, and has a blog at www.juicejusticeandcorgis.com. She graduated from UCLA (’05) and UCLA School of Law (’09) with a concentration in Critical Race Studies.