Oscar Pistorius, the double-amputee Olympian from South Africa who shot and killed his girlfriend, model Reeva Steenkamp last Valentine’s Day, headed back to the Pretoria Magistrate’s Court on Monday; Pistorius received an official indictment on a charge of premeditated murder. An means that the case then goes to a judge-only trial at the High Court in the South African Capital of Pretoria. If convicted, he will be given the mandatory minimum sentence of at least 25 years in prison.
A trial date has been set for March.
Pistorius was released on bail on February 22, and was last in court at the beginning of June. He has been living with an uncle since his release, and only recently began ‘some light training,’ according to his coach. However, he was just photographed at the beach with friends on a holiday.
Officials working the case gave notice that their six-month investigation was finally complete last week. The Office of South Africa’s National Police Commissioner then stated that through the evidence gathered and analyzed by a multitude of forensics and ballistics experts, as well as other professionals on the case, the South African Police Service is convinced of a case of premeditated murder. The statement says that they are confident that the Court will be as well.
Pistorius, 26, has claimed self-defense since the day the shooting occurred, saying that he mistook his girlfriend of four months, 29-year-old Reeva, as an intruder. However, several pieces of (alleged) evidence have come to light since that initial investigation, including two cellphones found on the bathroom floor, a bloodied cricket bat, and the fact that Steenkamp was shot through her shorts, indicating that she was not, in fact, using the toilet at the time of the shooting.
The shooting scene, Pistorius’ bathroom, is a large suite-type lavatory, with the toilet having its own 4.5 ft. by 3.5 ft. cubicle with a separate door – the door that Steenkamp was shot through. Reeva had been shot three times; one bullet struck just above her right ear, one bullet hit her in the hip, and one coursed through the model’s fingers, ending in her arm. Steenkamp’s injuries allude to a position in which she was crouched behind the locked door of the tiny room, with her hands covering her head and face. (Thus, the bullet through the fingers.)
Theories supporting the premeditated murder charge suggest that Pistorius was volatile and temperamental; neighbors claimed to have heard screaming the night of the shooting. As well, the athlete was arrested in 2009 for allegedly slamming a door in his home so hard on a female guest that she had extensive injuries. (The charge was later dropped.) He also has two previous gun-related incidents, in which he “accidentally” shot a gun in a restaurant and again, through an open sunroof in a vehicle.
It has been theorized that given the evidence of the bullet casings and trajectory paths, Pistorius was probably chasing Steenkamp when he shot her through the hip; Reeva then fled into the toilet cubicle, hiding behind the door. After ballistics experts and crime scene professionals comment on the evidence in court, we will know if Pistorius was indeed, not on his “blades,” the term for his prosthetic legs. The alleged murderer claims that he was hiding in a corner of the bedroom when he shot, and not wearing his blades, which made him “vulnerable.”
Pistorius shot Steenkamp around 3:00 a.m. in his Silver Woods Country Estate home on February 14, 2013. “Silver Woods” is a gated community within Pretoria, one of South Africa’s three capitals.