‘Blade Runner’ faces murder charges at court

The Oscar Pistorius, Valentine’s Day murder case continued this week as a reconstruction of the crime and photo evidence of the murder scene were analyzed in court.

As an athlete that always yearned for equal treatment of his abilities, Pistorius now faces the South African legal system that provides no favoritism to an individual’s accomplishments or status.

Pistorius is most known for his success in both the Paralympic games and the London Olympics winning multiple medals in each competition. Pistorius was convicted of first degree murder after admitting to killing his model girlfriend, Reeva Steenkamp. Pistorius claims that he killed Steenkamp in self-defense as he claims to have mistook her for an intruder.

The “Blade Runner” argues that he tried to knock down the locked bathroom door with a cricket bat after realizing that he may have shot Steenkamp. Prosecutors produced a full-scale model of the bathroom that included the door from Pistorius’ home.  The door had large cracks on one side and had four distinct bullet holes in the brown wooden panel next to the handle.

Forensic expert, Col. J.G. Vermeulen, examined the marks on the bathroom door caused by the cricket bat and told the court the height of them indicated Pistorius was on his stumps as he tried knocking the door down. Vermeulen suspects that the marks from the bat must be similar to the height that Pistorius was when he fired the shots.

The defense, however, argued that the marks were high enough for the athlete to be wearing his prosthetic legs while smashing through the door. Pistorius claims that he was initially on his stumps at the time of the shooting but rushed to the bedroom to put his prosthetic legs on after realizing he may have shot Steenkamp by mistake.

On cross-examination, Vermeulen said the shots that killed Steenkamp were fired before Pistorius hit the door with the bat. This seemingly disproves the prosecution’s assertion that Pistorius and Steenkamp were fighting and that she had locked herself into the toilet to escape his wrath.

Police photo evidence unveiled at Pistorius’ murder trial Friday showed him standing forlornly in the garage of his Pretoria home with blood soaking his shorts, socks and prosthetic legs followed by a photo of Pistorius’ tattoos. Another photo was a close-up of the toilet where Steenkamp was killed Valentine’s Day 2013 that the rim and inside the bowl covered in blood.

The integrity of the crime scene is questionable. Although Pistorius moved Steenkamp’s body from the upstairs bathroom to a downstairs living area, it is speculated that police officers at the scene did not use appropriate techniques when closing off the crime scene.

The prosecution struggled with errors which include an officer handling the gun without gloves and one of Pistorius’ watches going missing from the scene. The defense is taking full advantage of the admittance as they believe that the evidence the crime scene may give the prosecution was not only mishandled but tampered with.

The case is set to continue for at least another two weeks. If found guilty, Pistorius will serve 25 years to life in an infamous South African prison as South Africa does not implement the use of the death penalty.

It is extremely difficult to conclude whether the track star is indeed guilty of killing Steenkamp. South Africa has a history of high rates of domestic abuse, especially with women.  However, it’s hard to believe that an athlete that had to fight such adversity throughout his life could be able to commit such a heinous crime.

Pistorius announced his grand plans in starting a charity for kids with disabilities two days before the Valentine’s day murder. He was always admired by his fellow track athletes for his determination to compete with abled bodied runners and he was an inspiration to all athletes; both abled or disabled.  He was a figure that could somehow defy the odds to accomplish his dreams. However, his legacy will forever be tainted by this case no matter the outcome of the case.

Camille Weber/Sports Columnist

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