Friday, 18 September 2015

PISTORIUS: Did he really murder his girlfriend?

The killing of Reeva Steenkamp, the girlfriend of Oscar Pistorius in his home in Pretoria, South Africa had millions of television viewers around the world, tied to their TV sets. He is a Caucasian and at the time of the shooting, he was 26 years of age. There isn’t any doubt that he shot her to death on February 14, 2012 while kneeling behind the locked door of the stall in the bathroom near his bedroom. He admits that her shot her. What is in question is whether or not the shooting was a mistaken shooting on his part—him thinking that it was a burglar inside the stall or alternatively, he in a fit of anger went into the bathroom and purposely shot her four times through the locked door of the toilet stall thereby murdering her.

The known facts of the case

Pistorius is a world famous Paralympic who had to have his legs removed below his knees when he was a very small child and has been for a number of years, walking and running on his prosthetic legs that are curved at the bottom which gives him the spring he needs to be able to walk normally. As a runner with these blades, he was extremely fast.

Reeva Steenkamp was a Caucasian South American citizen and was 29 years of age when she was killed. She was both a paralegal, a model and her face was on the cover of a magazine because she was also a beautiful woman. On the night of her death, she had been sleeping with Pistorius in his bed.

Description of the area of the murder scene

I will give you a description of his bedroom, the hallway leading to the bathroom, the bathroom and the stall with the toilet inside of it as if it was you who was lying in his bed instead of him and the victim.

If you wanted to go to the toilet in the middle of the night, you would walk to the foot of the bed, then turn right to walk past the four closets on your right until you reached a small hallway (without a door) that led you as you turn right, directly into the bathroom (that also doesn’t have a door). When you reach the centre of the bathroom, ahead of you are three windows and to your left in the corner of the wall where the windows are placed, is an oval-shaped bathtub and on your right is the stall for the toilet which has a door which can be locked and next to it on your right is an enclosed shower.  The reason why the stall can be locked is there is no door leading to the bathroom so anyone entering the bathroom for some other reason, won’t enter the stall when there is someone else sitting on the toilet.

Pistorius’ explanation as to what happened

          Pistorius had spent a quiet night with Ms. Steenkamp at his luxury home in a secure estate on the outskirts of Pretoria. She had arrived early in the evening with a Valentine’s gift and the couple had enjoyed a normal evening in which she did some yoga while he watched television, then they both turned in for the night. And now I will tell you what Pistorius says happened at the moments of the shooting.

1.               He said that he heard a noise coming from the bathroom and he believed that it was an intruder who had climbed through one of the three windows in the bathroom.

2.              He said he grabbed his 9 mm pistol from under his bed and moved towards the bathroom on his stumps, telling Ms.  Steenkamp quietly to call the police. 

Why didn’t he reach over to her while he was still in their bed and wake her up and then tell her quietly that he thought that a burglar was in the bathroom? If instead he was dragging himself towards the bathroom and there really was a burglar in the bathroom and he supposedly spoke quietly to Ms. Steenkamp, it is highly unlikely that she could hear him while she was still asleep.

3.           He said that he was too scared to turn on the light in his room.

That is a ridiculous statement. If he didn’t want the alleged burglar to be warned that someone is awake, the noise from him dragging himself along the floor while approaching the bathroom would certainly alert the burglar that he better leave the way he came into the bathroom via the open window.

4.        He then dragged himself along the floor without his prostatic legs towards the bathroom all the time yelling at the so-called intruder and telling him to get out of the house. When he got into the bathroom, he didn’t switch on the bathroom lights. (He couldn’t since he didn’t have his prosthetic legs on at that time) Why didn’t he first put them on before he entered the bathroom?

Since he was willing to scream at the so-called burglar, why didn’t he also scream a warning to Ms. Steenkamp whom he said he believed was still in the bed asleep? Since she was actually in the stall in the bathroom, why then didn’t she tell him that it was she who was in the stall taking a pee? I believe that she did tell him that it was she who was in the closed stall. Further, why was it closed and why didn’t she turn the bathroom light on?

5.          He saw that the window close to the toilet stall was open. The others were closed.

Of course it was open. He had brought two fans into the house from the balcony.  He made that statement so that the authorities would believe that he thought someone entered the bathroom via that particular window.

6.             He heard a noise from inside the toilet stall. Then without saying a word, he fired four shots through the locked door in which three of them hit Steenkamp. The bullets struck her head, arm, hand and hip. Although four were fired, one at first appeared as if it didn’t hit her so it is possible that one of the four bullets that hit her had hit the same part of her body.

Why didn’t he order the person inside the stall to come out with his or her hands in the air? After all, he had a handgun in his hand.  

Steenkamp’s wounds were on the right hand side of her body. That indicated that she was not sitting on the toilet when she was shot, but was kneeling on the floor in front of the toilet. If Steenkamp was sitting on the toilet and heard Pistorius shout out, as he claimed, she would have called out to him. I think she did.  Who in his or right mind would remain silent when the person outside the stall threatened whoever was inside the stall—especially if it was his girlfriend that was in the stall?  Why did she lock the stall door?  I believe that she had tried to escape from Pistorius thinking that he as going to strike her.

It was then that he shot her to kill her. How do I know this? I have seen the picture of the door to the stall. There is a bullet hole on the lower left side of the door. It is only 12 inches from the floor. If she was sitting on the toilet, the bullet would have hit her lower right shin and not hit her right thigh. The stall is too narrow for her to stretch out. This means that while she was on the floor on her hands and knees facing the left side of the stall, he fired a shot at the left side of the door facing him hitting her right thigh.  She no doubt screamed in pain. He now knew who was in the stall and since her voice emanated from the right side of the door facing him; he fired three more shots at that part of the door. The first one was in the lower center of the door and the remaining two were shot in the lower right part of the door that was facing him so that the bullets would strike her head. How did he know she was on her hands and knees and facing that side of the stall? Her voice emanated from the lower right side of the door facing him. This is evidence that he deliberately shot her to kill her—an act that constituted premeditated murder. 

7.          At the same time (as he claims) he thought Steenkamp was still lying in his bed so he called out to her and told her to call the police. As we all know, she wasn’t in the bed. She was dying in the toilet stall. He would have known that from her screams emanating from the stall.

Here is an interesting question for you. When he first heard a noise coming from the bathroom, why didn’t he reach over and wake up his sweetheart? If he had reached over to her side of the bed and noticed that she wasn’t in the bed, he then he would realize that it must have been her who was in the bathroom.

8.          He then began crawling out of the bathroom while keeping his eyes on the stall and then he crawled back into the bedroom.

9.       When he returned to his bedroom, he reached for Steenkamp and realized that she wasn’t in the bed. It was then that he then realized that she wasn’t there. He said that he still hadn’t turned on the lights after he left the bathroom because he was too scared to turn them on.

I find that statement highly suspect. If there was a burglar in the stall, he would know that Pistorius had already been awake and had been in the bathroom. He would hear him crawling along the floor.

10.       He then sat on the end of his bed and put on his two prosthetic legs that were propped at the end of the bed and then he turned on one of the  lights on a night table.

Why didn’t he do that when he woke up? If he was afraid to turn on the lights originally, why did he suddenly turn them on after he left the bathroom? He didn’t see any light to look for his prosthetic legs as he knew that they were at the foot of his bed.

11.         He then picked up a cricket bat that was on the bedroom floor and walked into the bathroom and smashed open the stall door where he then found Steenkamp slumped on the floor. She was still alive then. The bloodied bat was later found in his bedroom. Why did he take it into his bedroom?

12.         He said he then phoned Johan Stander who was involved in the administration of the estate and asked him to phone the ambulance.

Why didn’t Pistorius call the ambulance and the police himself?

13.         He then carried her down stairs to the main floor.

What a sad story but was it really true?

My analysis of his story

Let me briefly tell you of my qualifications to arrive at such a scenario that I have written for you.  I spent four years studying criminology and during one of those years, I studied forensic sciences at one of the world’s best forensic science centres for nine months. In 1964 just after Ontario Legal Aid began, I was the investigator that was used by lawyers using Ontario Legal Aid to investigate the crimes their clients had committed. I investigated five murder cases and was successful in establishing as to what really occurred. Later when I was a private investigator for many years, I investigated more criminal cases and some of them at the request of the police. 

I will now present you with my view on what he claims happened in accordance to the aforementioned numbered scenarios he told the police.

                 I doubt that a burglar would try and climb up the outside wall of a two-story house so that he could climb into an opened bathroom window, especially when the bathroom light wasn’t on. He would have no idea where that window would lead him to. Very risky indeed going into a house one has never been in before via an opened window on the second floor of the house.

1.                           He claimed that he feared that his personal security guards were in cahoots with the burglars. That is a silly statement. If he really believed that, he would have arranged for new security guards to protect him and this he didn’t do.  A burglar could however use a ladder because there was a ladder on the property left there by a carpenter but a burglar wouldn’t know that unless he went to the side of the house. In any case, the ladder was still where it had been left by the workmen.  

2.                   When Pistorius grabbed his pistol from under his bed, why didn’t he carry it with him when he first went into the bathroom? He said that he grabbed the pistol after he returned to his bedroom and then went to the bathroom with his pistol in his hand.  If he thought a burglar was in his bathroom, one would think that he would carry his pistol when he first went into the bathroom.
3.                    Why wouldn’t he turn on the light on his night table before he got up to reach for his pistol under his bed? If he did, and the burglar entered his room, he would see the burglar and could easily shoot him from where he was on the floor of his bedroom.

4.                          Why would he not put his prosthetic legs on first before going to the bathroom? He would then be in a better position to shoot at a burglar who might be approaching him than if he was laying on the floor. He also said that he didn’t switch on the bathroom light. The reason why he didn’t do this was because he couldn’t since he was crawling on the floor. Had he been wearing his prosthetic legs, he could have switched on the light. Why would he enter a darkened bathroom if he thought a burglar was inside the bathroom?  

5.                           Why was one of the three windows in the bathroom open?  Was it opened before the two of them went to bed so that cool air would circulate in the bathroom? The temperature in Pretoria in February ranges from 21 to 29 Celsius.  That is equivalent to 69.8 to 84 Fahrenheit.   That is quite warm. There was a legitimate reason for keeping that window open.

6.                  He said that he heard a noise from inside the toilet stall. If that is so, then why didn’t he call out to whoever was in the stall instead of crawling back to his bedroom to get his gun and put on his prosthetic legs?  His actions in the bathroom when he first entered it doesn’t make any sense at all. Furthermore, had he tried to wake up his bedmate first, he would have realized that she wasn’t in the bed and therefore it was she who was in the bathroom and not a burglar. Why didn’t he wait to see if the burglar was going to enter his bedroom? He had his gun in hand to protect him and his sweetheart. That would certainly be better than walking along the darkened hallway with only a pistol in hand.

7.                    It was when he returned to the bathroom after getting his pistol from under his bed that he still believed that there was a burglar in the locked stall. He had no right to fire four shots through the door without first asking who was in the stall. The burglar could have been unarmed.   To shoot a burglar in a locked stall without first ascertaining that danger exists is manslaughter at least if not second degree murder.       

8.                     When he returned to his bedroom after firing four shots into the door of the stall, he began feeling for Steenkamp to see if she was still in the bed. That wouldn’t have been necessary had he turned on the lamp on his night table when he first got up.

9..           After sitting at the end of his bed, he put on his prosthetic legs and then turned on the light. That was when he realized that it was probably Steenkamp who was in the stall. Why didn’t he turn the light on before he put on his prosthetic legs and while putting on his prosthetic legs, why didn’t he call out to Steenkamp at that same moment?

10.            After using the cricket bat to smash open the door to the stall, why was it later found in his bedroom especially since he immediately pulled Steenkamp from the stall and then carried her down stairs immediately after that? 

What went on prior to the shooting? She had been getting dressed to leave him. I think he then first struck her in the head with the cricket bat while they were both still in the bedroom which explains why the blood-covered bat was found in the bedroom and her head being partially fractured. It wasn’t fractured when he was breaking down the door to the stall as the damage to the door by the bat was some considerable distance from the bottom of the door.  If he used it to smash open the door, it would have been left in the bathroom and not the bedroom.  

There is a suspicion that the first shot took place in the hallway leading to the bathroom while she was trying to escape him. That explains why a cartridge was injected fro his gun in the hallway. That shot hit her in the hip. She then ran to the bathroom and locked herself in the toilet stall. She was doubled over because of the pain. He fired three more shots and apparently the shots were fired towards the toilet and from a shoulder-high stance when he fired the three shots in the door.  She probably covered her head, which is why the bullet also went through her hand.  The fact that the door to the stall was locked indicates Steenkamp was trying to protect herself from

Neighbours are said to have complained to security guards two hours before shots were heard at the athlete’s home east of Pretoria about a noise disturbance—potentially a row between Pistorius and Steenkamp.

The iPad owned by Reeva Steenkamp could be a key part of the Oscar Pistorius murder investigation after claims that a message from Hougaard, 24, a rugby player may have provoked a row between her and Pistorius that led to her being shot. His close relationship with the model, with whom he shared an agent and a brand ambassador role, might have been a cause of tension between her and Pistorius. Hougaard corresponded regularly with Miss Steenkamp before her death on Twitter, posting a picture of the two of them together online after she died.

Pistorius called his father soon after 3.20 am asked him to come to the house. When the family arrived, Pistorius was allegedly carrying Steenkamp down the stairs, her head and arms dangling. Justin Divaris, a friend who introduced Steenkamp and the South African superstar, told the Mirror that Pistorius phoned him prior to notifying authorities of the shooting. I find that disconcerting that he didn’t call for an ambulance on his cellphone until he called his father and friend first. Security guards and neighbours who went to his home, saw Pistorius going down the stairs with Steenkamp in his arms.


In my opinion, I believe that Pistorius deliberately struck the victim on her head while they were both in the bedroom and then while he dropped the bat to the floor, she began running to the bathroom in order to lock the toilet stall door behind her in hopes that he would calm down. She didn’t realize that he would follow her with a pistol in hand. He then placed himself at the end of the shower closest to the stall and aimed his gun at the area of where the toilet would be and fired three bullets into the door and into her body and this was all done in a fit of uncontrollable anger.

This is not to say that my analysis of the Pistorius/Steenkamp shooting is the right one. There were no eyewitnesses to the shooting so the evidence unfortunately happens to be pure circumstantial and conjecture.  But based on what I heard the magistrate say and what I read, my proposed scenario was the only one that made any sense to me.

I do however want to say that I believe that the crime wasn’t premeditated. I think it was done on the spur of the moment in a fit of extreme anger  however, that would still make it murder but to a lesser degree. 

The trial, which began March 3, 2015 in South Africa, was compared to the infamous OJ Simpson trial and has been very critical of Pistorius.  Witness testimony has painted Pistorius as a trigger-happy individual with a short temper. 

Judge Thokozile Matilda Masipa in September 2014 declared that Oscar Pistorius was guilty of culpable homicide, (equivalent to manslaughter) after she acquitted him of murder. I think that was a suitable conclusion on the judge’s part. The following month, he was sentenced to five years in prison.  I can appreciate that a great many people will think that five years in prison is not enough considering the fact that he supposedly negligently killed a human being. I am one of them.

I have no sympathy for anyone who stupidly shoots his gun into an enclosed place (such as a toilet that has a door) without ascertaining who is inside that closed place. I feel the same way when a drunk driver kills someone else because of his or her drunken driving. In my opinion, Pistorius should have got fifteen years in prison.

Now this stupid man sought an early release after only serving eleven months in prison, Are you ready for this? The board granted his request and ordered that he was to serve the remainder of his sentence at his uncle's three-story mansion.  That doesn’t mean that he can’t go out of the house and work and play in the community. It actually means that he must be at him uncle’s home at night. What this really means is that he got only eleven months in prison for stupidly killing a human being. Is that justice?

Prosecutors subsequently lodged an appeal urging that the athlete be convicted of the more serious crime of murder, which carries a minimum sentence of 15 years. That kind of charge would be classed as a second degree murder. That form of murder is a non-premeditated killing of a human being.   

 The head of South Africa's Department of Justice can intervene to prevent Oscar Pistorius' early release from prison, the department said on the 30th of August, 2015, just two days before the Olympic athlete was expected to leave jail and get house arrest and serve the remainder of his five-year sentence of incarceration in his uncle’s luxurious house.

Ask yourself this rhetorical question. If a poor man was convicted of the same crime, would he be released from prison after serving only eleven months of a five-year sentence in prison so that he can live in a very luxurious home for the rest of his sentence? The answer is not unlike the one I will ask you now. “Do orthodox Jews eat bacon?” 

I will keep you abreast as to what happens next. 

UPDATE:  July 8, 2016

The Court of Appeal ordered the trial judge to re-sentence Pistorius. She increased  his sentence from five years to six years. The year he served in prison before he was released waiting for the decision of his appeal was not deducted from the new sentence so in fact, his incarceration would be seven years and not six years.  

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