Pistorius: Killing Was an Accident
On Tuesday, Oscar Pistorius, the South African sprinter charged with the premeditated murder of his girlfriend Reeva Steenkamp, said at his bail hearing that he accidentally shot Steenkamp last Thursday when he mistook her for an intruder.
"I fail to understand how I could be charged with murder let alone premeditated murder as I did not intend to kill my girlfriend," Pistorius said in a statement his defense attorney Barry Roux read in Pretoria magistrates court in South Africa. "I am advised that I do not have to deal with the merits of the case for purposes of the bail application. However, I believe that it is appropriate to deal with the merits in this application, particularly in view of the State's contention that I planned to murder Reeva."
Court adjourned on Tuesday, and will be back in session on Wednesday. No decision has been made on whether to grant Pistorius bail.
According News 24 reporters in the courtroom, Pistorius, in his statement, claimed after going to bed with Steenkamp on the night she was killed, he felt a "rush of terror" when he heard what he believed was an intruder in the middle of the night. He got out of bed, and, on his stumps, shot through the bathroom door while yelling at his girlfriend to call the police. Pistorius claimed after he fired the shots, he saw that his girlfriend was not in bed and then realized Steenkamp could have been in the bathroom. He claimed he then put on his "legs" and used a cricket bat to break open the bathroom door, which had been locked.
Earlier, South African prosector Gerrie Nel claimed Pistorius had put on his "legs" before shooting Steenkamp, and that was one factor the prosecution used to charge the sprinter with premeditated murder.
After South African Judge Desmond Nair ruled that bail proceedings would "go Schedule 6" because he could not rule out premeditation, Pistorius's defense lawyer Barry Roux read the sprinter's affidavit.
Schedule 5 is an offense where the burden would be on prosecutors to convince the judge why bail should not be granted. With a Schedule 6 offense, the burden is on the defense to show "exceptional circumstances" that would warrant bail being granted.
In his statement, Pistorius said he was "acutely aware of people gaining entries to homes to commit crime" and because he has even "received death threats," he sleeps with "my 9mm under my bed."
Pistorius claimed he went out to the balcony to get a fan and then heard noises that filled him with a "sense of terror." Thinking an intruder was in the bathroom, Pistorius said he shot through the door when he realized the door was locked. He said his bathroom has a window through which he believed the intruder entered.
"When I reached the bed, I realised that Reeva was not in bed. That is when it dawned on me that it could have been Reeva who was in the toilet," Pistorius's statement read. "I returned to the bathroom calling her name. I tried to open the toilet door but it was locked. I rushed back into the bedroom and opened the sliding door exiting onto the balcony and screamed for help."
Sam Greyvenstein, Steenkamp's best friend, said Steenkamp was in love with Pistorius and would have married him had he asked.
According to reporters in the courtroom, Pistorius said his continued incarceration would be of "no benefit" to the state and his release would not disturb the public order. Pistorius said since he is an international sports star, he was willing to surrender his passports should that be a condition of bail.
He noted after the shooting, he did not flee and remained until the police arrived.
"I have no doubt the police and expert investigators will bear this out," Pistorius said in his statement.
Pistorius, according to reports, said he has "never been convicted of crimes" and has no intention to relocate because he loves his country.