It was just a few moments in time in the early hours of Valentine's Day 2013 when blood curdling screams were heard, the kind that "made you feel cold" and four shots rang out, "Bang! Bang! Bang! Bang!" waking up and shattering the emotional centers of a small gated community in South Africa. Those few moments of time have been discussed from every angle, in what has been called the trial of the century, and has had the entire world riveted for months. It is a trial that will soon come to a close, with the state of mind of the individual that squeezed the trigger the four times those shots rang out in question. What was going through the mind of then 27-year-old Oscar Pistorius in those not so still, and not so small moments in the wee hours of Valentine's Day 2013 when he shot and killed his 29-year-old girlfriend Reeva Steenkamp? What the court believes on that matter will be revealed very soon in the Oscar Pistorius trial, as the fate of Olympic athlete and South African hero the Blade Runner Oscar Pistorius will be determined possibly within days, according to the L. A. Times today.
While this legal process plays out, the family of the victim, Barry and June Steenkamp have spoken with the Discovery Channel and revealed some startling premonitions their daughter Reeva Steenkamp had about her tragic demise, long before she ever even met Oscar Pistorius.
The L. A. Times reports on August 4 that Judge Thokozile Masipa will hear closing arguments on Thursday of this week, and a verdict could come as early as next week. Analyzing what both the State and the defense have presented thus far in the Oscar Pistorius trial, the L. A. Times is reporting today that the state of mind of Oscar Pistorius in those few moments in time will take front and center in the decision facing Judge Masipa and her two colleagues that have been presiding over this case.
There has been months of testimony, analyzing over every agonizing scream that was heard around the gated community that evening. A cross-examination and dissection at every level, of every dent in the lavatory door smashed in by a cricket bat. Every single nook and cranny and swing of the curtains in the crime scene that occurred on Valentine's Day 2013 in South Africa has been scrutinized at every angle for months.
For all of these countless hours of analysis paralysis, Judge Masipa only needs to understand, and believe, the angle presented by the evidence that determines the state of mind of the accused in question in the length of time it takes to squeeze a trigger four times.
Did Oscar Pistorius intend to kill Reeva Steenkamp? What was going through his mind in those moments? Does the placement of the curtains, or the fan, or the dents in the door from the bat have a factor?
After closing arguments come Thursday of this week, that will be for Judge Masipa and her colleagues to decide.
The State has presented a case that illustrates a case where premeditated murder may not have been planned for months, as it has been found to be in other cases like the Jodi Arias trial, but that Oscar knew who he was shooting at that night. As previously reported by the Toronto Relationships Examiner, the entire theory of premeditated murder presented by the State has been to allege that Oscar Pistorius and Reeva Steenkamp had a fight that evening.
ABC News reports today that final papers have been filed in the closing arguments, but these will not be revealed to the public and have been banned from being so until the trial resumes this week. ABC reports that the State alleges that a fight led to Reeva Steenkamp running into the lavatory, and locking the door behind her with a key. It has also been alleged that Reeva Steenkamp brought an iPad and a cell phone into that bathroom with her, suggesting this was not a middle of the night "run to the loo."
The State alleges when Reeva ran into that bathroom, she was terrified, and fighting with Oscar who was now holding a gun in front of that door.
The conclusion of that argument between lovers, the State alleges, is what the entire world is talking about today. The killing of Reeva Steenkamp.
The defense has offered a similar defense to one of the first lies also told by Jodi Arias. The "I thought it was an intruder defense." Oscar claims he woke up in the middle of the night, heard the lavatory window open, got his gun, shouted at Reeva to call the police, and then shot four times into the bathroom door.
He claims he thought he was shooting at an intruder. The last witness for the defense before the testimony wrapped admitted himself and to the prosecutor upon cross-examination that when Oscar was shooting that evening, he was intending to kill someone.
One of those stories will be the story that Judge Thokozile believes, it is forensically impossible for her to believe both. Which story has convinced her beyond a reasonable doubt?
To many, this seems like a simple case of guilty or innocent, but in the way that South African law is written, Oscar's fate may have already been determined. Despite the many double stories and double edged swords in the testimony of this case, this has been a point the Prosecutor Gerrie Nel for the State has argued consistently since the beginning of this trial.
Prosecutor Gerrie Nel has shown this since the first indictment for Oscar Pistorius where he wrote the indictment under Section 51 (1) of South African Criminal Code. The first count of the official indictment of Oscar Pistorius reads,
"Count 1 – Murder – Read with the provisions of section 51 (1) of Act 105 of 1997, In that upon or about 14 February 2013 and at or near [Oscar's address at Silverwoods country Estate, Silver Lakes] in the district of Pretoria, the accused did unlawfully and intentionally kill a person."
The State has alleged that intending to kill a human being is first degree murder, that Oscar intended to kill a human being, and his circumstantial evidence or the narrative he purports to excuse his behavior is irrelevant to the law. This is why the State had the last witness for the defense testify, just before the trial wrapped, that Oscar intended to kill someone.
The State is alleging, that is fine that he claims it was an intruder, but he still meant to kill someone that evening, and it is still felony murder. This is not something the State came up with upon the last witness, Gerrie Nel has been trying to make this point since the first indictment when he wrote,
"The accused said to witnesses on the scene, that he thought she was an intruder. Even then, the accused shot with the direct intention to kill a person. An error in persona, will not affect, the intention to kill a human being."
If Judge Masipa overlooks this, and takes into account the hysterics that have occurred in the court, and the results of his psychiatric evaluation, and believes the "I thought it was an intruder defense", she may find him guilty of culpable homicide. A first degree conviction will land Oscar the possibility of a 25 year sentence or more, a sentence of culpable homicide carries a 15 year prison term.
This finding would indicate that Judge Masipa believes that this was a "criminal but unintentional" killing according to the L. A. Times. She would have to believe that Oscar, who is a self-proclaimed expert fully trained on the use of firearms, was not capable of forseeing the consequences of possibly killing someone when he shot through that lavatory door.
Judge Masipa will also have to believe there is an explanation, beyond reasonable doubt, as to why the story of Oscar Pistorius does not match any of the forensic evidence. This is where the swish of a curtain and the placement of a fan could make all of the difference in his fate.
James Grant, a legal analyst and criminal law expert that works with Witwatersrand University told the L. A. Times,
"To convict Pistorius, you need to be convinced that there's no reasonable possibility that he could have been lingering under the mistake that there was an intruder in the house and that he had to kill this intruder."
Grant also suggested to the L. A. Times this was going to be an uphill battle for Oscar,
"I don't know how the court will make a decision. I think it's incredibly difficult in issues like this where the defense is exclusively subjective, 'what was he thinking?'"
The thought that nobody really wants to talk about, but everybody is really really talking about, is the hero aspect. Nobody wants to believe that their hero is capable of gunning down an innocent woman who, by her own mother's accounts, "must have been terrified and in a lot of pain." Nobody wants to believe that Oscar, a multi-gold-winning medalist and history making Olympic athlete that has inspired millions, terrified one.
Nobody. People that are best friends have been known to argue about this, as it has become a very divided case, a "conflicted narrative" one journalist reporting out of Pretoria, South Africa, recently told the Discovery Channel. She said,
"It's... it's a very conflicted narrative. You really want to believe him. You really really really really want to believe him."
But you can hear the doubt in her voice, and in her tense. Nobody says "really" that many times unless there is a whole lot of reasonable doubt. These are the same reasonable doubts in everyone's mind, the same reasonable doubts that hang heavy in the air between the end of the trial and verdict.
But while this may be weighing heavily on the world, and on Oscar Pistorius, there is nobody this is all weighing on more heavily than the family of the victim. June Steenkamp, mother to Reeva, and Barry Steenkamp her stepfather have been emotionally gutted throughout this entire process of this horrific loss to their family.
June and Barry recently sat down with the Discovery Channel to chronicle their side of this conflicted narrative.
While the world wonders what was going through Oscar's mind in those moments, all June Steenkamp can think about is what was going through Reeva's mind.
One thing June can't get out of her head that she keeps bringing up with the Discovery Channel is the terror and the pain that Reeva must have been feeling behind that closed and locked bathroom door. It's the one thing she doesn't want to face, the one thing no parent wants to face.
"Those are the things that get to me… Straight to my soul… To my heart my soul. It's too much to ask any mother to do."
It is those last moments of Reeva that have kept June Steenkamp so strong, and determined to look Oscar Pistorius in the eye as she appears every day for the trial of the killing of her daughter. Discovery Channel followed her every single day, and asked her on the first day if she wanted to share what was going through her mind in that moment.
She clearly didn't. Her face tightens, she swallows hard, and you can see her doing everything she can to contain the multitude of emotions that are washing over her with the very question. All she can say is "no."
June Steenkamp remains focused on the last moments for her daughter, and what was going through her mind right then. Her mission every day has been to stay strong for her daughter. She refuses to show any emotion, because she,
"Just wants to get through this with as much dignity as a grieving mother could…with as much strength as possible to be strong for Reeva."
In the end, she just wants the truth to prevail, either way, and says herself she would not want to be Oscar Pistorius right now. She feels bad for him, Barry Steenkamp nods in agreement that he does as well. They wouldn't want to be in his own personal hell right now, but they do want the truth for their daughter's sake.
A visit to the Steenkamp's home will show anyone that they remember, love, cherish, and honor, the beautiful Reeva Steenkamp every day that they are alive. Discovery Channel captured rooms upon rooms, medals, certificates, photo shots, and artwork of Reeva's that remind June and Barry of the love and light they have in their life with Reeva, even after she is gone.
It is two of those pieces of artwork, painted by Reeva herself when she was around the age of 15 that June and Barry decide to share with the Discovery Channel, and the world. In those paintings June and Barry reveal some astonishing pictures, that both Barry and June Steenkamp believe were uncanny and chilling premonitions of Reeva Steenkamp when she was just 15-years-old.
The entire video and full interview with the Steenkamps on the Discovery Channel can be seen in the video attached to this article, where viewers can follow along with Discovery Channel as June Steenkamp goes to trial every single day. The paintings the Steenkamps refer to can also be viewed in the slideshow presentation attached to this article. The first one is a painting done on two separate boards that when put side by side make up a complete picture.
June and Barry described their interpretations of these paintings to the Discovery Channel.
"Here's Reeva [pointing to a woman in a red dress]….in the field next door there's a man with a gun. And he's standing under a tree and he's pointing toward s Reeva and she's standing here and she has her wings, and here are the steps going to heaven. That's how I feel that she…she painted this when she was 15 years old and it's quite like a premonition almost. It's unbelievable I guess if you really think about it."
Reeva's step father describes the second painting that shows a nude woman crouching in fetal position,
"Yep, and here's another one which is even more uncanny and chilling than the other one. Also of a painting that Reeva had done for us when she was young. When we, when the newspapers came out and the media came out, and the first picture that was shown was with Reeva on the toilet seat where she had been killed, and it's virtually identical, to the position that they had shown in the newspapers. And I…I just couldn't believe it."
It was not the only premonition that June Steenkamp reports of Reeva's. She told the Discovery Channel she had never met Oscar face to face before this trial, but had to speak with him on the phone once when Reeva called to say she was "scared" because Oscar was driving too fast. June asked Reeva immediately to put Oscar on the phone.
"If you hurt my baby, I will have you bumped off."
She may have used the term "wiped out" she says, she can't remember her exact words, but she made her position very clear to Oscar. As she says, she made it clear "how precious Reeva was...and how he better watch his stuff." Oscar reportedly immediately slow down and even apologized to Mrs. Steenkamp.
At the end of the day, Mrs. Steenkamp says that she can forgive him. She has to, she says, it is her faith and her duty to God, but she is still angry.
As any mother would be.
Until that verdict is called, and until this comes to a close for the Steenkamps either way, she may have sympathy for Oscar but does not really stay awake at night worried about his state of mind. The only state of mind she can think of is the terrible pain and the terror that were experienced in her daughter's last moments.
The prosecutor is very concerned about that state of mind as well, and will work to show in closing arguments this Thursday August 7. Prosecutor Gerry Nel will argue that who was behind that door does not matter when it comes to first degree murder in the Oscar Pistorius trial.
Prosecutor Gerrie Nel will argue that it was a felony and premeditated murder regardless of persona in the early morning hours of Valentine's Day 2013 when bloodcurdling screams and 4 gunshots changed a small gated community in Pretoria, South Africa, for forever.
What do you think happened? What do you think of Reeva's eerie premonitions?