South African prosector Gerrie Nel charged South African sprinter Oscar Pistorius with premeditated murder on Tuesday in Pretoria central magistrates court, alleging the double below-the-knees amputee and Olympian put on his “legs” and shot his girlfriend Reeva Steenkamp through the bathroom door.
Judge Desmond Nair said because he could not rule out premeditation, the trial will proceed with the “Schedule 6” premeditation charge, which makes it unlikely Pistorius will get bail. If convicted, Pistorius will serve life in prison and be eligible for parole in 25 years. South Africa does not have the death penalty.
Schedule 5 is an offense where the burden is on prosecutors to convince the judge why bail should not be granted. With a Schedule 6 offense, though, the burden shifts to the defense to show “exceptional circumstances” that would warrant bail.
Pistorius, in a statement read by his defense attorney, claimed the shooting was an accident. Court adjourned on Tuesday and will again be in session on Wednesday.
Pistorius’s defense lawyer Barry Roux disputed the murder charge, saying, “All we really know is she locked herself behind the toilet door and she was shot.”
“There is no concession this is a murder,” Roux said, according to Reuters.
Nel said Steenkamp was in a “1.4 by 1.14 meter little room” when she was killed.