On Feb. 19, and in the second court appearance in South Africa for Oscar Pistorius in the shooting death of his girlfriend Reeva Steenkamp, prosecutor Gerrie Nel made two excellent points for proving his premeditation case according to live coverage of the event by the Guardian.
Nel asked Pistorius' defense lawyer Barry Roux why a burglar who had gained entrance to a home's front door that was left unlocked would then go into a bathroom in the home and lock the door?
The prosecutor in the Steenkamp murder also asked why the Paralympic and Olympic running star would get up out of his bed at 3 a.m., put on his legs, and then go and shoot an alleged burglar hiding behind a locked bedroom door four times rather than call police and flee the house?
Oscar Pistorius's defense attorney said that his client would gladly tell the court the events of that night. And the court waited for him to do so during his bail hearing, but he did not, saying they would come later. And the "blade runner" athlete seemed unable to maintain his composure throughout the proceedings, which began at 7:30 a.m. in South Africa.
The Olympic athlete's ability to obtain bail hangs upon whether the judge hearing the case today believes the shooting is a schedule five case or a schedule six case, the most severe. The prosecution contends that it is a schedule six case due to premeditation on the part of Pistorius. The defense wants it ruled a schedule five in order to avoid a possible life imprisonment sentence for his client, and to be able to get Oscar out on bail today.
Proving and disproving premeditation of the crime seems to be the biggest bone of contention between the two legal eagles battling it out in court today. But the judge feels the issue before him isn't so hard to decide; he's just upset the state prosecutor didn't get a ruling on the schedule five versus six status before coming into the courtroom today. (That's a technical issue, however, and not really pertinent to the issue of guilt or innocence).
Nevertheless, Judge Desmond Nair has ruled that since he is being asked to decide it then he feels it is a schedule six case, making it a possibility that Oscar Pistorius will receive a life sentence if convicted in the shooting death of Reeva Steenkamp. And it also means it is highly unlikely he will receive bail unless he can show "exceptional circumstances."
Judge Nair said in court that he is also open to hearing evidence from the defense that could sway him back to a schedule five case position, which the defense was given the opportunity to prepare for during a recess Tuesday morning.
The defendant in this case has admitted he shot and killed Reeva Steenkamp, but his defense lawyer Barry Roux says it was an accident and that "this is not even murder," according to court recordings.
The prosecution said that based on the facts and evidence that Oscar had to have put on his prosthetic legs, removed his gun from the holster found lying by his side of the bed, and walked to the bathroom where Reeva Steenkamp was sitting on the toilet behind a locked door before opening fire four times on her and then breaking the door down.
That is why the prosecutor insists this is a premeditated act. It has nothing to do with a plan to necessarily kill Steenkamp hours or days beforehand. It is premeditated based upon Pistorius hunting down his victim, even if it had been a burglar, rather than fleeing.
Barry Roux asked the prosecutor if he had a witness that saw Pistorius put on his legs? And he suggested that the reason Oscar broke down the door was to help Reeva after he realized he shot her instead of an intruder.
But Judge Desmond Nair points out that,
"Prosecutor Gerrie Nel is relying on objective facts--the overnight bag, the shots through the door, the locked door, the fact the door was broken from the outside, and the fact that Pistorius carried Steenkamp's body downstairs--and that the only inference the prosecutor makes is that Pistorius put on his legs first."