Blade Runner indicted on murder charge
Aug 19, 2013 / 7:53 am
Oscar Pistorius was indicted Monday on a charge of murdering his girlfriend, and prosecutors said witnesses heard a woman screaming before the sound of fatal gunshots fired by the double-amputee Olympian in the early hours of Valentine's Day.
Pistorius, who was in court for the indictment and wept before proceedings began, also will face a charge of illegal possession of ammunition when he goes on trial March 3 in a court in the South African capital, Pretoria.
The much-awaited indictment in the Pretoria Magistrate's Court yielded new detail about how prosecutors will pursue a case that has gripped the world because of the celebrity status of Pistorius, who overcame his disability to become a global phenomenon. His model girlfriend, Reeva Steenkamp, would have celebrated her 30th birthday on Monday.
Prosecutors said Pistorius shot "with the intention to kill a person," and a prosecution spokesman said after the hearing that it was premeditated murder.
The prosecution also will attempt to show the couple argued before she was killed as part of its case that Pistorius intended to kill Steenkamp.
"Some of the state witnesses heard a woman scream, followed by moments of silence, then heard gunshots and then more screaming," the prosecution said in the 11-page indictment.
The court set March 3-20 as the trial period for Pistorius, who has said he shot Steenkamp by mistake, believing she was an intruder in his upscale home in Pretoria. Prosecutors submitted a list of more than 100 witnesses, including Pistorius' uncle Arnold, sister Aimee and brother Carl, as well as a number of people who lived in the same gated community where Steenkamp was killed.
If convicted, Pistorius could face a life sentence with a minimum of 25 years in prison before parole. There is no death penalty in South Africa.
Prosecutors said Steenkamp died just after 3 a.m. on Feb. 14 of multiple gunshot wounds, according to the autopsy. The state will attempt to show that the couple could have fought before Pistorius shot four times through a locked toilet cubicle door, hitting Steenkamp three times and killing her.
Pistorius has said he thought Steenkamp was in bed and he shouted at her to call the police, believing there was a dangerous intruder in his bathroom, and that he didn't know she was in the toilet cubicle.
Pistorius, 26, appeared in court for Monday's indictment, crying and holding hands with his siblings before proceedings started. Wearing a dark suit, the athlete wiped away tears with a tissue and sat in the dock with his head bowed.
Pistorius also stood and spoke twice, first responding to the magistrate's question on whether he was OK by saying: "Under the circumstances, ja (yes)." He also was asked if he understood the indictment and he said he did.
The case will be sent to the North Gauteng High Court in Pretoria, where a judge will ultimately pronounce the athlete innocent or guilty. South Africa does not have trial by jury.
Read more World News
- Another theft from Walker's crash
- First national marketplace for legal pot
- Convicted killer executed in Oklahoma
- Backcountry skier survives avalanche
- World leaders pay tribute to Mandela
- Sound sleeper locked inside empty plane
- Guilty plea in ricin-laced letters sent
- NY reporters sue Homeland Security
- World leaders gather in South Africa
- Justin Bieber arrives in Philippines
- Congress renews undetectable gun ban
- Cuddling biz closed amid brothel claims
(Click for RSS instructions.)