In March of 2014, Oscar Pistorius began trial for allegedly shooting and killing his girlfriend, Reeva Steenkamp. The South African Pistorius achieved world fame with his victories in the 2012 Paralympic Games. Fans were in awe of this athlete was able to run so well on prosthetic legs. His fame turned to notoriety when he was accused of shooting Steenkamp four times through a locked bathroom door on February, 2013. Pistorius claimed that he thought that Steenkamp was in bed and that the person in the bathroom was an intruder.
The case was held in the High Court of Pretoria and was presided over by Judge Thokozile Masipa. Pistorius was allowed to be out on bail. Earlier, the court had decided that the main parts of the trial could be televised, including the verdict and sentencing. The defense maintained Pistorius’ account that he thought an intruder was in his home and that he acted in self-defense. However, the State countered that whether or not Pistorius knew that his girlfriend was in the bathroom, he was not threatened and that he shot to kill.
Several witnesses came forth and testified that they heard gunshots on the night in question. One witness claimed that he heard a man screaming for help. The prosecution provided circumstantial evidence suggesting that Pistorius was overtly jealous and was subject to bouts of rage which scared his girlfriend.
While many countries would conduct a jury trial in the case of murder, South Africa has yet to re-instate the jury system after it was banned years ago by apartheid. Judge Masipa and two other magistrates ruled that Pistorius was guilty of negligent homicide and illegal possession of a firearm on September 12, 2014.
Pistorius was sentenced in October 2014 for a maximum of five years of prison for negligent homicide, with a possibility of being released early with correctional supervision. His legal team made an appeal and won him freedom for a while; however, the High Court re-examined the evidence and said that Pistorius was actually guilty of murder. Currently, Pistorius is awaiting his fate to see if the South African Supreme Court will hear his appeal.
One of the top legal analysts, Brenda Wardle, covered the Pistorius trial extensively. Wardle is from a prestigious South African family and graduated with three law degrees cum laude. She has reviewed and analyzed several high profile cases in South Africa and is considered one of the top legal minds in South African law.
Brenda Wardle works with other legal experts to help bring better definitions to the laws of their country. She has written numerous legal books and an autobiography. Wardle travels the globe and discusses legal issues that affect her country. She has four adult children and three grandchildren.
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