The bail hearing for Oscar Pistorius's murder case continued into a second day today, with lawyers for both sides ramping up the arguments they will likely be making during the actual trial. Most of the day centered on the testimony of Hilton Botha, who was the first police officer to arrive at the scene. Botha testified that he found Steenkamp dead on the floor, fully dressed, and that Pistorius's brother was already on the scene.
Botha also testified that police found bottles of testosterone and needles, which appears to back up earlier reports that illegal steroids were found in the house. In addition, the officer testified that police dug up Pistorius's bank records and that they consider the international celebrity to be a fight risk.
When defense lawyers got the chance to question Botha, however, they countered most of his charges and had the officer flustered and "floundering," according to the BBC. Even though the actual murder trial may not begin for months, today's hearing turned into a preview of what the major points on contention will be an how both sides plan to fight it out.
Here's are major point of dispute that were discussed today:
The shouting: Botha testified that witnesses reported hearing loud shouts and fighting, between 2:00 and 3:00 in the morning. Defense lawyers noted the one of the witnesses lives at least 600 yards for the Pistorius house, and the number of gunshots he reported hearing does not match the number actually fired.
The drugs: The prosecution says Pistorius had illegal testosterone in his house, which could be used to both undermine his character, and suggest that he suffered some of kind of "roid rage" incident. (A claim, that interestingly the defense might like to use as well, in order to say that the athlete was in an altered state of mind.) Today, the defense claimed it was merely an herbal supplement and not an illegal drug.
(Update: The prosecution has since admitted that they were wrong about the testosterone, and it's too early to say what the substance actually was, until it can be tested.)
The "blades": Botha testified that the shots were fired on a downward trajectory, suggesting that Pistorius stopped to put on his carbon fiber prosthetic legs before the shooting, a sign of "premeditation." Pistorius claims he was not wearing his prosthetics, which was why he was afraid for his safety.
The aiming: Pistorius claims he fired blindly at the bathroom door that Steenkamp was sitting behind. Botha claims he deliberately aimed at the area where the toilet is, knowing that's where she was sitting. (The prosecution also pointed out that Steenkamp's bladder was empty, consistent with someone who got up in the night to use the bathroom.)
The ammo: Prosecutors suggested they may want to charge Pistorius with more crimes, including possession of illegal ammunition. Pistorius say the ammo belonged to his father.
The threats: In 2009, Pistorius was arrested for assaulting a woman in his home, but he was never charged. His lawyers pointed out today that he's actually filed a civil suit against the woman for malicious prosecution.
When all is said and done, it really comes down to how believable Pistorius's version of the story his. There's no disputing that he pulled trigger, and most of the evidence is clear. What isn't clear is the interpretation of what the evidence means, and Pistorius intention when he pulled the trigger. The police say it was cold-blooded murder, but because no one else was in the house, it will be up to the sprinter to convince the jury that it was just a tragic mistake.
The hearing adjourned until Thursday, when a final ruling on bail is expected to come down.
This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.
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