Oscar Pistorius, the South African Olympian and Paralympian who is accused of the pre-meditated murder of his girlfriend on Valentine’s Day, has been granted bail and released prior to the trial, which could take six to eight months to begin.
Pistorius has spent the last eight days arguing his innocence before Magistrate Desmond Nair, who granted bail on the condition that Pistorius surrender his passport, refrain from imbibing alcohol, and report to a local police station twice a week.
Nair admits that after over a week of hearing evidence, he admitted that it is far too soon to make a judgement on how the state’s case will go during the trial because there were many, many details to be pored over. Pistorius claims that he awoke in the early hours of Valentine’s Day–after having gone to bed with girlfriend Reeva Steenkamp–to turn off a fan on the balcony just off his bedroom. When he came back into the pitch-black bedroom, he says he realized someone was in the bathroom. Thinking Reeva was still in bed–where he’d left her before going to the balcony–he put on his prosthetics (Pistorius is a double amputee), grabbed a gun, and went to confront the intruder. He shot through the door of the bathroom, hitting Steenkamp three times. Pistorius says when he realized the person inside could have been his girlfriend, he opened the door to find her wounded but still alive. An attempt at resuscitation was unsuccessful, he claims. Since that day, various reports have come in from witnesses who say they heard the sounds of an argument coming from the home that night, and the first responders on the scene admitted they weren’t wearing protective slippers over their shoes, which may have contaminated the crime scene. The former chief prosecutor of the case, Hilton Botha, was removed after it was discovered he was involved in a controversial incident of his own, wherein he participated in chasing down and shooting at a vehicle full of people while drunk. He is accused of seven counts of attempted murder in that case.
“The pieces of the puzzle may not yet all be before me,” Nair said of the Pistorius case.
Pistorius has had several people give conflicting accounts of his relationship with Steenkamp; some say they had a volatile relationship and that there had been incidents of a “domestic” nature between them before, while others insist they were a normal, happy couple.
“If Oscar was to ask her to get married, she would have said yes,” friend Kevin Lerena said. “That’s how happy and joyful their relationship was.”