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Bladerunner agonistes
February 19, 2013 9:01 AM   Subscribe

'Bladerunner' Oscar Pistorius (previously), the South African olympian and paralympian sprinter, charged with the murder of his girlfriend Reeva Steenkamp whom he shot four times through a locked bathroom door, has now given his account of what happened that night at a bail hearing. In an affidavit he claims that he loved Steenkamp, who he thought was still in bed, and fired at what he thought was a burglar, before breaking down the bathroom door with a cricket bat and watching his girlfriend die in his arms. The prosecution takes another view. Police have asked for blood tests on Pistorius, anticipating a possible 'roid rage' defence after steroids were found in the home following the shooting. Pistorius is the latest in series of elite male athletes to find themselves mired in controversy.
posted by unSane (172 comments total) 17 users marked this as a favorite

 
Has there been a good Sports Murder Media Circus between this and O.J.?
posted by Jon_Evil at 9:05 AM on February 19, 2013 [1 favorite]


For Reeva:

.
posted by rtha at 9:06 AM on February 19, 2013 [19 favorites]


One of the odd things about this is that Pistorius' defence isn't much of a defence, since he clearly intended to shoot at someone through a locked door. I'm not sure how much difference it makes if it wasn't who he thought it was, even if you take him at his word.
posted by unSane at 9:08 AM on February 19, 2013 [6 favorites]


.
posted by tzikeh at 9:08 AM on February 19, 2013


For Reeva:
.

And yeah, just WHEN are these entitled male athletes getting off the pity-pot?

It's all pretty tired at this stage.
posted by Katjusa Roquette at 9:09 AM on February 19, 2013 [3 favorites]


This roid range defense, is that different from a meth defense or PCP defense?
posted by stbalbach at 9:10 AM on February 19, 2013 [2 favorites]


Why the hell would anyone shoot someone who was in a different room from them and was behind a closed door? They pose no immediate threat. You have a conversation with them at that point, telling them you have a gun and have called the police so they'd better not come out until the police get there. God, these cowboy assholes who think they're "defending their properties". He should do some time — at least five years, which is nothing when you consider what he took away from this poor woman.

And that's assuming his story is true. I heard there was a baseball bat or something found with blood on it.
posted by orange swan at 9:11 AM on February 19, 2013 [4 favorites]


What do you mean by "controversy" here?
posted by demiurge at 9:11 AM on February 19, 2013


It's hard to buy the burglar angle. Apparently neighbors heard screaming or shouting before the shooting, and apparently the couple had heated arguments in the past.
posted by Brocktoon at 9:11 AM on February 19, 2013 [1 favorite]


I'm not sure how much difference it makes if it wasn't who he thought it was, even if you take him at his word.

I would suspect this would affect intent, which in-turn would affect the severity of his punishment. Home protection resulting in an accidental death vs. intentionally killing his girlfriend.
posted by Thorzdad at 9:12 AM on February 19, 2013 [1 favorite]


God, these cowboy assholes who think they're "defending their properties".

And for the record, Pistorius lived in a gated community with a 3 meter high wall with electric barbed wire fence at the top. And somehow he thought he needed to shoot through a bathroom door to "defend his home"?
posted by mcstayinskool at 9:13 AM on February 19, 2013 [6 favorites]


. for Reeva.

Also of note is the absolutely sickening way Reeva's death has been dealt with by (certain parts of) the media. Ugh.
posted by fight or flight at 9:13 AM on February 19, 2013 [5 favorites]


Also, how do you break down a door with a cricket bat? Either that's a really strong cricket bat or a really flimsy door; If it's the latter, it would seem to be much simpler to just use your shoulder. Then again, I'm saying this as a guy with regular legs instead of running-optimized prostheses, so maybe Pistorius needed some extra improvised leverage after all.
posted by Strange Interlude at 9:13 AM on February 19, 2013


I'm not sure how much difference it makes if it wasn't who he thought it was, even if you take him at his word.

The prosecution is saying the same (from the "takes another view" link):

"Even (in) his own version, he readied himself, walked to the bathroom with the clear intention and plan to kill the ‘burglar’ and did so whilst the burglar was harmless and contained in a toilet. This in itself also constitutes premeditated murder of a ‘defenceless burglar.’"

It seems NUTS to me to shoot at an unknown person through a closed door, but I don't know if SA has a self-defense/castle doctrine that might allow for that, or at least make it a mitigating factor?
posted by torticat at 9:14 AM on February 19, 2013


I don't think you shoot someone four times through a closed door without meaning to kill them, whoever you think is behind it.
posted by BungaDunga at 9:14 AM on February 19, 2013 [3 favorites]


This roid range defense, is that different from a meth defense or PCP defense?

Yeah, I had the same reaction. "I took a bunch of illegal drugs" seems more aggravating than mitigating.
posted by dortmunder at 9:14 AM on February 19, 2013 [4 favorites]


A really good article on the Pistorius, South Africa, unfolding events and what they mean for the national psyche:
A country remains in shock as hero Pistorius charged with murder
posted by donovan at 9:15 AM on February 19, 2013 [4 favorites]


Home protection resulting in an accidental death vs. intentionally killing his girlfriend.

What kind of home protection involves shooting somebody locked inside a bathroom?
posted by kmz at 9:15 AM on February 19, 2013


You know, either way - his story, or the garden variety domestic murder story - this is another example of people who thought that guns in the home would make their family safer being tragically and ironically wrong about that. I started thinking about this after that incident with that Kansas City football player. Would he have been able to go through with killing his partner with his bare hands? A firearm enables escalation from argument to violence to homicide very quickly.
posted by thelonius at 9:16 AM on February 19, 2013 [28 favorites]


According to Reddit, for however much or little that's worth, Pistorius has always had an atrocious reputation as to his personal character and propensity to violence.

I would also bet a shiny quarter that he does not believe his own alibi.
posted by Sticherbeast at 9:17 AM on February 19, 2013 [1 favorite]


...since he clearly intended to shoot at someone through a locked door.

Implicit in this angle is that it would be a scary black person.

My first thought when I heard about this was recalling an incident during the London games when somebody had the audacity to beat Pistorius at one of his events, and rather than congratulate him he stormed off in a huff and launched an appeal about the length or something of the other guy's blades. Knew then Oscar was not a particularly nice oke.
posted by Flashman at 9:17 AM on February 19, 2013 [1 favorite]


What kind of home protection involves shooting somebody locked inside a bathroom?

I'm not defending it, I'm simply giving my thinking on why this "explanation" has been proffered.
posted by Thorzdad at 9:18 AM on February 19, 2013


Yeah it would be interesting to see how many deaths by firearm there are in domestic disputes. Not to mention accident shootings. Might even outweigh the legitimate home protection incidents.
posted by stbalbach at 9:19 AM on February 19, 2013 [1 favorite]


stalbalbach - also suicides
posted by thelonius at 9:21 AM on February 19, 2013 [1 favorite]


Does anyone know if the bloody cricket bat has been corroborated?
posted by drezdn at 9:21 AM on February 19, 2013


BTW, I feel very weird about Tiger Woods and Lance Armstrong being listed along with Belcher and Pistorious. Woods and Armstrong may be assholes, but being an asshole is not even remotely on the same level as being a murderer.
posted by kmz at 9:22 AM on February 19, 2013 [37 favorites]


Woods and Armstrong may be assholes, but being an asshole is not even remotely on the same level as being a murderer.

Depends on your perspective, doesn’t it? Woods was clearly aware of what he was doing, deliberately, to his family. If Pistorius was drugged and scared at the time (and I’m not saying he was), one might argue he wasn’t really in charge.
posted by roomthreeseventeen at 9:24 AM on February 19, 2013 [1 favorite]


Does anyone know anything about South African law as it pertains to so-called 'Castle' doctrine and using weapons to defend one's home? The Bladerunner's defense may be crafted to paint a scenario that would be deemed legal by some statute that we just don't know about.
posted by MisantropicPainforest at 9:25 AM on February 19, 2013


I mean who can really say, at the end of the day, if killing someone is worse than having sex with multiple partners? We may never know.
posted by (Arsenio) Hall and (Warren) Oates at 9:26 AM on February 19, 2013 [102 favorites]


Related: Freakonomics Radio had a really interesting discussion on guns and gun control in one of their recent podcasts. How to Think About Guns: Podcast, Transcript.
posted by mcstayinskool at 9:28 AM on February 19, 2013 [2 favorites]


Does anyone know if the bloody cricket bat has been corroborated?

It seems so, since Pistorius himself said he used the bat to break down the door.
posted by torticat at 9:29 AM on February 19, 2013 [1 favorite]


how do you break down a door with a cricket bat?

Cricket bats are pretty damn solid and heavy. They weigh about 3lbs (half again as heavy as a typical baseball bat).

Interior bathroom doors on the other hand tend to be two thin pieces of particle board with a soft core. You could probably put your fist through one if you really wanted to.
posted by srboisvert at 9:30 AM on February 19, 2013 [3 favorites]


I'm not sure how much difference it makes if it wasn't who he thought it was, even if you take him at his word.

It takes it from murder in the first degree to negligent homicide in most US jurisdictions. It could, if he was truly convinced it was an intruder, could take it all the way to no crime at all, as justifiable homicide. However, that's very jurisdictionally dependent, but in general, you have to intend to kill a specific person to murder them, and if he proves that he thought he was acting in self defense against an intruder and was mistaken, it would almost certainly reduce the charge from first degree murder.

Now, I'm not saying this is a plausible defense -- but that's where the defense is going, to get this out of murder and into manslaughter, where the punishments are much lighter, and can be none if it's considered justifiable. Also a factor is if South Africa has something similar to the castle doctrine in the US, where deadly force against an intruder is almost always excusable.

Personally, I'm not buying it right now, but all the facts aren't out, and it's for a jury to decide.
posted by eriko at 9:30 AM on February 19, 2013 [1 favorite]


Does anyone know anything about South African law as it pertains to so-called 'Castle' doctrine and using weapons to defend one's home?

If one is in immediate lethal danger, one is allowed to defend oneself. But as soon as soon as the assailant has been incapacitated, one is obligated to stop. Pistorius's defense doesn't meet this criteria, as he was not in immediate lethal danger and, because the "assailant" was behind a closed door, there was no way to tell whether or not the assailant was incapacitated. There is a reason why the police have decided to charge him with premeditated murder.
posted by (Arsenio) Hall and (Warren) Oates at 9:31 AM on February 19, 2013 [3 favorites]


This Daily Mail piece really outparodies itself with the infographic that notes "This is what the toilet looks like ... Reeva sat on the toilet"
posted by chavenet at 9:32 AM on February 19, 2013 [3 favorites]


This whole disgusting thing is such a gold mine for media vultures. That reality show producer must have done a dance in private thinking about the massive ratings bump that Reeva's murder enabled.

And why the hell would anyone here even think for a moment that Woods' horny dalliances are akin to murder? That's just inane. Woods was doing what most other young men would do, given a tenth of the opportunity.
posted by Burhanistan at 9:32 AM on February 19, 2013


Also, how do you break down a door with a cricket bat? Either that's a really strong cricket bat or a really flimsy door; If it's the latter, it would seem to be much simpler to just use your shoulder.

The first is certain, cricket bats are *very* solid, think of a baseball bat writ large. The second is probable, most modern interior doors are nothing more than privacy partitions, and can be easily broken down with simple tools -- and some are so thin you could conceivably do so with your fists.

The last -- it would have almost certainly been easier to shoulder or kick the door in, unless the door was unusually stout, with unusually stout latches and a good frame to latch to. Cops on a raid use a battering ram and other tools on external doors, which tend to be stout, but just kick or shoulder internal doors, which tend to be anything but.
posted by eriko at 9:33 AM on February 19, 2013 [2 favorites]


Depends on your perspective, doesn’t it?

Enh, not really. Cheating on your spouse is bad, but it trivializes DV and murder to put it in the same league as what Pistorius has allegedly done. Also, as much as steroids can affect your mood, they're not in the same realm as the sort of mind-altering substances which could even conceivably mitigate your guilt, especially since it would have been his choice to take and continue taking them.

If it later comes out that this really was all a tragic, violent misunderstanding, then I'll happily take back all of my bad words and thoughts about Pistorius, but until then, I ain't on a jury, so I ain't obligated to assume that he's innocent. The story stinks to high heaven.

My guess would be that he snapped, brained her with the cricket bat, and then killed her when he figured that she could only press charges (or talk to the press) while living. Of course, he didn't count on being indicted for murder anyhow, but a genius the man is not.
posted by Sticherbeast at 9:34 AM on February 19, 2013 [4 favorites]


(A)HA(W)O, are you talking specifically about the law in South Africa?
posted by torticat at 9:35 AM on February 19, 2013


Yes.

The principle is simple:
the life of the attacker can only be taken in order to protect your or someone else’s life or to prevent serious bodily harm. It is unlawful to use lethal force in any other circumstances. In other words, your property is not worth the life of the person that is stealing it from you!

posted by (Arsenio) Hall and (Warren) Oates at 9:36 AM on February 19, 2013 [6 favorites]


As someone who is not opposed to owning firearms for self-defense, I find this sickening. Rule 4 of the "Four Laws" of firearm safety: always be sure of your target.

This "defense" smells like what it is.
posted by ellF at 9:36 AM on February 19, 2013 [3 favorites]


I first heard the "locked bathroom door" thing on the radio this morning. I don't think I've ever locked a bathroom door in my own home - I've done it in one-stall public restrooms, sure, but it doesn't even occur to me to lock the bathroom door at home. It made me assume that she specifically wanted to keep him away, as opposed to wanting to, uh, go to the bathroom.

But I understand that's an assumption, and that it's biased by my own bathroom behavior, so I've been wondering: Do other people lock their bathroom doors at home? Including when nobody else is awake? And when it's just you and your significant other in the house?
posted by Flunkie at 9:36 AM on February 19, 2013 [2 favorites]


[MAKE A SERIOUS EFFORT HERE FOLKS.]
posted by jessamyn at 9:37 AM on February 19, 2013 [3 favorites]


I guess I don't understand the defense here. Was he in hot pursuit of a burglar who tricked Oscar into thinking he was in the bathroom? Because when I think my wife is in bed and then I hear sounds in the bathroom, I don't immediately grab a gun. I check the bed. Maybe call out "is that you?" Before, you know, shooting someone.
posted by DU at 9:41 AM on February 19, 2013 [3 favorites]


Cricket bats are pretty damn solid and heavy. They weigh about 3lbs (half again as heavy as a typical baseball bat).

cricket bats are *very* solid, think of a baseball bat writ large.


Maybe it's because I'm an American non-sports fan, but I'd always understood cricket bats as being somewhat like longer+slightly thicker ping-pong paddles. Real cricket bats, on the other hand, sound like fearsome war clubs. Thanks for remedying my ignorance.
posted by Strange Interlude at 9:41 AM on February 19, 2013 [2 favorites]


>>...since he clearly intended to shoot at someone through a locked door.

>Implicit in this angle is that it would be a scary black person.


This made me realize that we're looking at this from a US-centric point of view, and this is taking place in South Africa. Can someone comment on the cultural differences there wrt this type of thing? Is the culture more violent, for example? I mean, I'm as unconvinced of his alibi as anyone else, but I was just wondering if there were any SA-specific things that would make this less incredible.
posted by Melismata at 9:42 AM on February 19, 2013 [3 favorites]


Well, this is still horrible...
posted by Windopaene at 9:43 AM on February 19, 2013


Do other people lock their bathroom doors at home? Including when nobody else is awake? And when it's just you and your significant other in the house?

Yes. Sometimes. And sometimes.

So no, I don't think that's significant in and of itself.
posted by bardophile at 9:44 AM on February 19, 2013


Flunkie, I always lock the bathroom door. It's a habit.
posted by mr_crash_davis at 9:44 AM on February 19, 2013 [1 favorite]


Has there been a good Sports Murder Media Circus between this and OJ?

Rae Caruth comes to mind, though that was certainly more low profile, as this likely would have been, had he not appeared in the Olympics.
posted by ShutterBun at 9:44 AM on February 19, 2013


Now that I think about it, I don't actually know if any of my bathroom doors have locks in the first place.
posted by Flunkie at 9:46 AM on February 19, 2013


After the recent Dorner flap, I would hope people would at least feel the need to rein in all the speculation and conjecture, at least for a little while.
posted by Burhanistan at 9:50 AM on February 19, 2013


My guess would be that he snapped, brained her with the cricket bat, and then killed her when he figured that she could only press charges (or talk to the press) while living. Of course, he didn't count on being indicted for murder anyhow, but a genius the man is not.

You know, they never do. The talk is always "tougher laws for crimes committed with a gun" but in a case like this you can bet your ass the thought "I might be indicted for murder if I shoot her" only entered his mind after the deed was done. Fear of the law certainly didn't stop him from pulling the trigger.

Laws and the fear of punishment don't stop crimes of passion and it is senseless to continue to proscribe this as the solution.
posted by three blind mice at 9:53 AM on February 19, 2013 [3 favorites]


Burhanistan: After the recent Dorner flap, I would hope people would at least feel the need to rein in all the speculation and conjecture, at least for a little whole.

What's the harm for people who aren't on the jury?
posted by Mitrovarr at 9:54 AM on February 19, 2013 [1 favorite]


Is the culture more violent, for example?

About 15 years ago, South Africans could legally buy this device as a car-theft deterrent. So there's that, I guess.
posted by Strange Interlude at 9:54 AM on February 19, 2013 [2 favorites]


Melismata: This made me realize that we're looking at this from a US-centric point of view, and this is taking place in South Africa. Can someone comment on the cultural differences there wrt this type of thing?...

There is some fascinating context (and details) in an excellent Sports Illustrated article posted by donovan above (the article's author, Alex Eliseev, is a South African journalist):

...In a country plagued by crime (15 000 murders, 17,000 violent house robberies and nearly a quarter of a million burglaries in a single year), this sparked a debate about gun ownership and the terrible fear people carry with them each day and sleep with each night. The "mistaken identity" version was easy to swallow. South Africans spend millions of Rands each year to hire private security companies and to build walls, electric fences and burglar bars.
In 2004, one of the country's retired rugby stars, Rudi Visagie, mistook his teenage daughter for a thief and shot her dead in his yard. She was sneaking out to surprise her boyfriend on his birthday. Listeners called into radio shows to share their experiences, one man having jumped out of bed to attack a shadow which turned out to be his wife...

posted by Jody Tresidder at 9:55 AM on February 19, 2013 [8 favorites]


BTW, I feel very weird about Tiger Woods and Lance Armstrong being listed along with Belcher and Pistorious.

Agreed. Cheating on your wife is not a crime. Driving away at speed to avoid a physical confrontation with a smaller and less athletic partner was the right decision. He made what sure sounded like a heartfelt apology for his behavior. Doesn't belong anywhere near the list.
posted by Slap*Happy at 10:00 AM on February 19, 2013 [3 favorites]


Pistorius is the latest in series of elite male athletes to find themselves mired in controversy.

Wow, that last part was completely unnecessary, especially considering that one of the three you linked to was, by many accounts, the victim of a violent domestic abuse.
posted by rocket88 at 10:00 AM on February 19, 2013 [1 favorite]


It's very sad. Very sad indeed for Reeva Steenkamp and her family.

I suspect there is substantially more to come out about Pistorius. The South African press have hinted, round the edges, at unreported aspects of his personality and behaviour that they now cannot report on due to court restrictions.

At best, this plays out as a troubled man who was sufficiently paranoid or incapacitated to shoot at burglars with lethal intent. At worst, it's a brutal murder by anyone's standards.

The shouting and whatnot is likely to be a red herring as it is evidence of an argument if Pistorius shouted at what he thought was a burglar. I suspect the defence and the prosecution are going to look in the same places for their explanations of such extreme actions and with them, guilty or not, the end of Pistorius' public image as a clean living athlete.
posted by MuffinMan at 10:01 AM on February 19, 2013




There is absolutely no part of this that I don't find completely awful. A young woman is dead and a potentially great ambassador for a sport is either an asshole (at best) or a murderous scumbag.
posted by It's Never Lurgi at 10:03 AM on February 19, 2013 [11 favorites]




Real cricket bats, on the other hand, sound like fearsome war clubs.

There is a reason Shaun of the Dead shows them being used to bash in zombie brains. I thought pretty much the same until i held one in person, it's a solid scary weapon. A google image search will give you an idea if you remember that it's solid and heavy too, and as long or longer than a baseball bat.

The shooting of the burlger thing reminds me of a case up here in Wisconsin (or was it Minnesota, i forget) where a guy kept having his house robbed by teens. He ended up shooting two of them, but then decided to hide the bodies in his basement. He may have had honest fears at the time, but that will be hard to prove with other behavior.
posted by usagizero at 10:06 AM on February 19, 2013


I assume in a few days we'll hear about the history of domestic violence that predated this, though it will be called something else.
posted by jeather at 10:06 AM on February 19, 2013 [3 favorites]


I assume in a few days we'll hear about the history of domestic violence that predated this
I don't know if they've said anything about violence specifically, but the cops have already said that they'd been called out to the home due to domestic disputes previously.
posted by Flunkie at 10:09 AM on February 19, 2013


I would not be surprised if Tiger Woods eventually gets outed for steroid use.
posted by littlejohnnyjewel at 10:10 AM on February 19, 2013


The South African press have hinted, round the edges, at unreported aspects of his personality and behaviour that they now cannot report on due to court restrictions.

I've heard several references to things the press can't do in this case. Can someone recommend a good "I neither went to law school nor j-school" primer on South African press laws?
posted by Lyn Never at 10:11 AM on February 19, 2013 [1 favorite]


And for the record, Pistorius lived in a gated community with a 3 meter high wall with electric barbed wire fence at the top. And somehow he thought he needed to shoot through a bathroom door to "defend his home"?

I remember reading a study about gated communities which suggested that their residents actually tend to feel more fearful and anxious about personal security than the average person. Partly it's just that anyone who'd choose to move to a gated community surely has a higher-than-average desire for security... but also, the constant reminders of the fact that you live in a fortress can actually serve to freak you out and make you see danger around every corner. Every time you see that electric fence, multiple times every day, you remember and reinforce all of the fears that led you to choose to live behind it.
posted by showbiz_liz at 10:18 AM on February 19, 2013 [9 favorites]


Real cricket bats, on the other hand, sound like fearsome war clubs.

Isn't it also more lethal because if you swing it with the thing edge hitting a target, it's both more aerodynamic and has a thinner area of contact, thus it becomes almost wedge-like where a bat is just a bludgeon instrument?
posted by FJT at 10:22 AM on February 19, 2013 [1 favorite]


Both can really fuck up human skulls.
posted by Burhanistan at 10:26 AM on February 19, 2013


I remember reading a study about gated communities which suggested that their residents actually tend to feel more fearful and anxious about personal security than the average person

When I studied in Cape Town, I met quite a few people who grew up in gated communities in Johannesburg, and they recounted many stories of home invasions in their and friends' high-security homes. There really is a culture of paranoia and fear; it's never been clear to me whether the paranoia is in line with actual levels of crime. Machismo is also prevalent.
posted by benbenson at 10:28 AM on February 19, 2013 [5 favorites]


How does Pistorius get around when he's not racing? I assume the blades are for competition only so does he have regular prostheses otherwise? I can imagine if he was in bed without them he'd feel at a significant disadvantage to someone he assumed to be an intruder.
posted by tommasz at 10:30 AM on February 19, 2013


Wait-he's said he was in bed and did have to take time to put t on the prosthetic limbs. So how did he not have time to notice his GF wasn't in bed.
posted by NorthernLite at 10:39 AM on February 19, 2013


Does anyone know anything about the South African newspaper "City Press"? I ask because this article from it seems pretty damning if true - e.g. one cartridge was found in the bedroom, not the bathroom. But the website has a bit of a raggish feel to me - like the Daily News or the NY Post.
posted by Flunkie at 10:42 AM on February 19, 2013


Excerpted from his affidavit:
16.5After Reeva finished her yoga exercises she got into bed and we both fell asleep.

16.6I am acutely aware of violent crime being committed by intruders entering homes with a view to commit crime, including violent crime. I have received death threats before. I have also been a victim of violence and of burglaries before. For that reason I kept my firearm, a 9 mm Parabellum, underneath my bed when I went to bed at night.

16.7During the early morning hours of 14 February 2013, I woke up, went onto the balcony to bring the fan in and closed the sliding doors, the blinds and the curtains. I heard a noise in the bathroom and realised that someone was in the bathroom.

16.8I felt a sense of terror rushing over me. There are no burglar bars across the bathroom window and I knew that contractors who worked at my house had left the ladders outside. Although I did not have my prosthetic legs on I have mobility on my stumps.

16.9I believed that someone had entered my house. I was too scared to switch a light on.

16.10I grabbed my 9mm pistol from underneath my bed. On my way to the bathroom I screamed words to the effect for him/them to get out of my house and for Reeva to phone the police. It was pitch dark in the bedroom and I thought Reeva was in bed.

16.11I noticed that the bathroom window was open. I realised that the intruder/s was/were in the toilet because the toilet door was closed and I did not see anyone in the bathroom. I heard movement inside the toilet. The toilet is inside the bathroom and has a separate door.

16.12It filled me with horror and fear of an intruder or intruders being inside the toilet. I thought he or they must have entered through the unprotected window. As I did not have my prosthetic legs on and felt extremely vulnerable, I knew I had to protect Reeva and myself. I believed that when the intruder/s came out of the toilet we would be in grave danger. I felt trapped as my bedroom door was locked and I have limited mobility on my stumps.

16.13I fired shots at the toilet door and shouted to Reeva to phone the police. She did not respond and I moved backwards out of the bathroom, keeping my eyes on the bathroom entrance. Everything was pitch dark in the bedroom and I was still too scared to switch on a light. Reeva was not responding.

16.14When I reached the bed, I realised that Reeva was not in bed. That is when it dawned on me that it could have been Reeva who was in the toilet. I returned to the bathroom calling her name. I tried to open the toilet door but it was locked. I rushed back into the bedroom and opened the sliding door exiting onto the balcony and screamed for help.

16.15I put on my prosthetic legs, ran back to the bathroom and tried to kick the toilet door open. I think I must then have turned on the lights. I went back into the bedroom and grabbed my cricket bat to bash open the toilet door. A panel or panels broke off and I found the key on the floor and unlocked and opened the door. Reeva was slumped over but alive.

16.16I battled to get her out of the toilet and pulled her into the bathroom. I phoned Johan Stander (“Stander”) who was involved in the administration of the estate and asked him to phone the ambulance. I phoned Netcare and asked for help. I went downstairs to open the front door.

16.17I returned to the bathroom and picked Reeva up as I had been told not to wait for the paramedics, but to take her to hospital. I carried her downstairs in order to take her to the hospital. On my way down Stander arrived. A doctor who lives in the complex also arrived. Downstairs, I tried to render the assistance to Reeva that I could, but she died in my arms.
posted by rtha at 10:42 AM on February 19, 2013 [8 favorites]


Is it typical of FPPs like this that an especially high percentage of commenters don't bother to first RTFAs? (Which is the effort that jessamyn was asking for, right?)
posted by progosk at 10:49 AM on February 19, 2013 [2 favorites]


Oscar Pistorius will likely get off because fear animates much of South African lives.

South Africa sounds like a messed-up place.
posted by The Card Cheat at 10:53 AM on February 19, 2013


> Is it typical of FPPs like this that an especially high percentage of commenters don't bother to first RTFAs? (Which is the effort that jessamyn was asking for, right?)

Well, the first link is a Wikipedia article, the second is a previous MeFi thread, then there are a bunch more. I'm not knocking the OP, but it is pretty difficult to expect a fluid thread that focuses only on the links in the post when people are scouring the web on a breaking news story.
posted by Burhanistan at 10:55 AM on February 19, 2013


South Africa definitely has a culture of fear. The level of violent crime here is pretty appaling, so it's not unwarranted. A lot of crime that would be nonviolent in the US turns ugly here. Pretty much anyone you talk to has some awful personal experience with crime. You hear some really atrocious stories. Like the father of the family I stay with was shot multiple times in a car hijacking a few years back. I live in the village, not someplace like Jo'burg, and this shit happens.

I'd guess most outsiders would think it's just racial fear, and that does exist, but actually black South Africans live in small barricaded fortresses as much as white ones do. Everyone is fearful. Razor wire is ubiquitous. In the city, all homes have electric fences.

So I can believe the story about a man unknowingly shooting his daughter as she sneaks out.

But, given all that, the whole "I thought there was an intruder in my locked bathroom. The neighbors heard yelling? Huh, no clue what that was." thing still sounds ABSURD. Yeah, right.
posted by Solon and Thanks at 10:57 AM on February 19, 2013 [8 favorites]


When I studied in Cape Town, I met quite a few people who grew up in gated communities in Johannesburg, and they recounted many stories of home invasions in their and friends' high-security homes. There really is a culture of paranoia and fear; it's never been clear to me whether the paranoia is in line with actual levels of crime. Machismo is also prevalent.

I had a friend going to grad school in Montreal from South Africa. They rented a place on the fifth floor of some building and were freaked out that there were no bars on the windows, something which would never have occurred to me. (The people on the first floor of my building don't have bars, much less the top floor.)
posted by jeather at 10:58 AM on February 19, 2013


.
posted by hydropsyche at 10:59 AM on February 19, 2013


I've been glued to pretty much anything I can read about this case, so I'm grateful for this thread for giving me other opinions to read and think over. I feel torn over so much of this, and since so far I seem to be the only one, here's my reasoning:

I fucking loved Oscar Pistorious. I loved watching him run, I loved his Jesus-y bro-filled Twitter account, I loved him for being one of my sporting inspirations*, despite the fact that I am not disabled, nor a runner. And now I am dealing with the fact that he definitely killed someone, and she was wonderful, and it's hitting all those feelings about sport and violence against women and how even I find some parts of his story suspicious so far and so on and on and on. I don't write this to make it all about me but to try to explain that I understand, in some tiny tiny way, why there are all these articles where South Africans are dealing with the fall of their hero. And I'm glad of them, but also wish at the same time they were all about Reeva instead. So, divided, with added guilt over being so, because I should, by rights and feminism, be dismissing him but I can't. Not just yet.

All of which is to say, I'm really interested in this thread, because if nothing else, it'll get me out of my self-selected echo chamber. (Also, really interested in/grateful for the views on what South Africa is like today...)

*Jens Voigt, don't you dare put a toe out of line, or I'll throw it all in, I swear. Gah, you really shouldn't ever have heroes.
posted by kalimac at 11:02 AM on February 19, 2013


the whole "I thought there was an intruder in my locked bathroom. The neighbors heard yelling? Huh, no clue what that was."

Read the articles! Or not, just read the thread!

I guess I'm in a minority here but I find Pistorius's story more plausible than that he went batshit in the middle of the night and killed his girlfriend of two months.

Apart from the fact that he would have to be paranoid and a bit nuts to shoot through the door of the toilet stall, has any other evidence come out or been suggested that would suggest his account of what happened is not true? The shouting is accounted for. The locked door seems not so odd if it was a separate part of the bathroom with its own door. The bat is explained. And other testimony has suggested it's true that he immediately called friends and family.
posted by torticat at 11:05 AM on February 19, 2013 [3 favorites]


it's for a jury to decide

Not so much; South Africa does not have jury based trials.
posted by biffa at 11:13 AM on February 19, 2013 [3 favorites]


According to Mallory Ortberg, he was arrested 4 years ago for assaulting a woman.
posted by jeather at 11:14 AM on February 19, 2013


I can buy that he was frightened and confused. I can buy that he thought his girlfriend was in bed. I can buy that he didn't know the bathroom door was locked.

I can almost buy that his girlfriend felt the need to lock the bathroom door when having a pee in the middle of the night.

I find it completely implausible that he thought the best course of action was to shoot blindly through the bathroom door at a supposed intruder without giving any kind of warning, but simultaneously yelling loudly at his girlfriend to call the cops.

I also find it pretty implausible that he tried to use a cricket bat to break down the door, being familiar with both cricket bats and doors. I can however imagine someone whaling on a bathroom door with a cricket bat in a fury at the person behind it.

I suspect the case will probably come down to prior patterns of behaviour. Alleged rage incidents like this don't come out of nowhere.

I find the story about him accidentally firing a gun in a restaurant (in the 'roid rage' link) pretty disturbing. This is not someone who's careful around firearms.
posted by unSane at 11:15 AM on February 19, 2013 [3 favorites]


Here's the NYPost article which mentions the arrest, as well as some other stuff.
posted by unSane at 11:20 AM on February 19, 2013


According to Mallory Ortberg, he was arrested 4 years ago for assaulting a woman.

From Ortberg's link:
Pistorius was arrested for assault after slamming a door on a woman.

Family and friends said it was an accident, and charges were dropped after he spent a night in police custody.
Further googling reveals:
Pistorius was arrested and accused of common assault in 2009, but the case was thrown out because of a lack of evidence, police told CNN on Thursday.

That incident involved Pistorius allegedly slamming a door during a party, and a piece of the door fell off and hit someone, said Capt. Marissa Van der Merwe of South African police.
posted by Etrigan at 11:25 AM on February 19, 2013 [1 favorite]


I guess I'm in a minority here but I find Pistorius's story more plausible than that he went batshit in the middle of the night and killed his girlfriend of two months.

So far, we only have his word that they were both asleep and he woke up to a noise he thought was an intruder. From what I've read, I don't know that you can definitively declare that "the shouting is accounted for." He says he shouted for Reeva to call the police, and shouted for help when he realized what he'd done. I don't see in the articles that that must be the shouting the neighbors reported hearing.

We don't know. We'll continue to not know until the trial, and even then, there may be many things that remain unknown. I don't find it impossible to believe that it happened the way he said. I also don't find it impossible to believe that he killed her deliberately.
posted by rtha at 11:27 AM on February 19, 2013




...when I think my wife is in bed and then I hear sounds in the bathroom, I don't immediately grab a gun. I check the bed. Maybe call out "is that you?" Before, you know, shooting someone.
posted by DU at 9:41 AM on February 19


Yeah, me too, most of the time.
posted by weapons-grade pandemonium at 11:32 AM on February 19, 2013 [3 favorites]


I guess I'm in a minority here but I find Pistorius's story more plausible than that he went batshit in the middle of the night and killed his girlfriend of two months.

I mean I guess you can blame TV for feeling this way, but you are far more likely to be assaulted by someone you know than a stranger, especially if you are a woman. Pistorius assaulting his girlfriend and then killing her in a rage is statistically far more likely than the break-in scenario he alleges.
posted by ennui.bz at 11:32 AM on February 19, 2013 [4 favorites]


Well, continuing to play devil's advocate...

I find it completely implausible that he thought the best course of action was to shoot blindly through the bathroom door at a supposed intruder without giving any kind of warning

He said in his affidavit that he did yell a warning. I suppose that, if he were truly convinced that his girlfriend was in bed (as she had been when he went on the balcony) and that an intruder was in the stall, then the lack of response would have seemed more threatening.

I also find it pretty implausible that he tried to use a cricket bat to break down the door, being familiar with both cricket bats and doors.

By that time, he knew he'd just shot his girlfriend. What would you do if you were trying to get a person out of a locked stall as quickly as possible? He doesn't have legs to kick it!

I find the story about him accidentally firing a gun in a restaurant (in the 'roid rage' link) pretty disturbing. This is not someone who's careful around firearms.

His friend whose foot was almost shot in the incident said it was not Pistorius's fault and that it was not a case of mishandling a gun.

(Having said all that, I find this gun-happy culture more than troubling, in SA as well as the US.)
posted by torticat at 11:33 AM on February 19, 2013


From what I've read, I don't know that you can definitively declare that "the shouting is accounted for." He says he shouted for Reeva to call the police, and shouted for help when he realized what he'd done.

And that he shouted for the "intruder" to come out. However, you're right; I meant hypothetically accounted for... if Pistorius's story were true. Of course we don't know that it is.
posted by torticat at 11:36 AM on February 19, 2013


I don't really buy it. I don't think anyone could be that dumb, from what I've heard his house was also pretty fortified, if you're so paranoid about intruders that you're going to randomly shooting into rooms in your own house sight unseen wouldn't you also have security cameras setup and so on?

Frankly, even if his story was true he deserves murder charges anyway just for being such a fucking idiot.
One of the odd things about this is that Pistorius' defence isn't much of a defence, since he clearly intended to shoot at someone through a locked door. I'm not sure how much difference it makes if it wasn't who he thought it was, even if you take him at his word.
It depends on the local laws. People shooting eachother accidentally or thinking they are intruders does happen a lot in the U.S and doesn't always result in a prosecution. But obviously this happened in South Africa, not America.
I don't think I've ever locked a bathroom door in my own home -- Do other people lock their bathroom doors at home? Including when nobody else is awake? And when it's just you and your significant other in the house?
I don't think it's that uncommon, there are probably plenty of married people who don't want their spouse to walk in on them taking a dump.
I assume in a few days we'll hear about the history of domestic violence that predated this, though it will be called something else.
It sounds like there might be some restrictions on what the SA media can say, but those details might make it out to forigen media.
Agreed. Cheating on your wife is not a crime. Driving away at speed to avoid a physical confrontation with a smaller and less athletic partner was the right decision. He made what sure sounded like a heartfelt apology for his behavior. Doesn't belong anywhere near the list.
It could be the domestic violence angle: This all came out because she was swinging at him with a golf club, I don't remember now if she'd actually struck him before he ran away. Also, more athletic? The guy is a golfer, and his wife 5'11, just two inches shorter then him. I would guess the two would be pretty evenly matched, expecially given the fact she had a golf club.

It's weird though the media just totally glossed over that aspect.
I would not be surprised if Tiger Woods eventually gets outed for steroid use.
Again, dude, the guy is a golfer. He may be an asshole, but how would steroids even help? Looking around it doesn't even seem like the major golf tours even have rules against it.
posted by delmoi at 11:37 AM on February 19, 2013 [1 favorite]


He said in his affidavit that he did yell a warning

Where? I don't see it.
posted by unSane at 11:38 AM on February 19, 2013


Oh, sorry, now I do. But she just kept quiet? Come on.
posted by unSane at 11:39 AM on February 19, 2013


It's possible her girlfriend was sitting in the bathroom completely quiet because she was scared and thought Oscar was shouting at a potential intruder outside the bedroom door.
posted by FJT at 11:42 AM on February 19, 2013


Pistorius assaulting his girlfriend and then killing her in a rage is statistically far more likely than the break-in scenario he alleges.

Of course! These are not the two scenarios to compare, though. Obviously there was no break-in scenario. You should be looking at the likelihood of Pistorius's killing his girlfriend vs. his mistakenly thinking someone was breaking into his house. Obviously the latter happens all the time, and apparently (even based on comments in this thread) many people in SA are on edge about the possibility of break-ins.
posted by torticat at 11:43 AM on February 19, 2013 [1 favorite]


Murders Without Murderers
posted by Legomancer at 11:45 AM on February 19, 2013


Argument that accelerates to a swung cricket bat (who hit who?). She leaves the bedroom, locks herself in the bathroom (and it's a bathroom 6 meters from the bedroom, not an attached bathroom). He can't force it open and then has the brilliant idea to shoot the lock off. You know, just like in the movies. And he's a terrible, terrible shot.
posted by Cool Papa Bell at 11:46 AM on February 19, 2013


He may be an asshole, but how would steroids even help?

a) Distance off the tee is one reason.
b) Recovery from injury is the real reason. Tiger Woods has had multiple knee surgeries.
posted by Cool Papa Bell at 11:48 AM on February 19, 2013 [2 favorites]


Pistorius assaulting his girlfriend and then killing her in a rage is statistically far more likely than the break-in scenario he alleges.
Maybe, but that kind of thing does happen. I wonder what the actual ratio of people murdering family members intentionally, vs. shooting them thinking they are intruders. (vs. shooting them accidentally, which is even more common)

Either way, he should still go to jail for negligent homicide IMO.
posted by delmoi at 11:49 AM on February 19, 2013


a) Distance off the tee is one reason.
b) Recovery from injury is the real reason. Tiger Woods has had multiple knee surgeries.
If it's just to recover from knee injury then what's the problem? People who aren't in competitive sports take substances that would get them kicked off out of the Olympics all the time for minor medical reasons. You even see testosterone cream advertized on TV for guys with "Low-T"

It seems like worrying about steroid use among competitive chess players.
posted by delmoi at 11:52 AM on February 19, 2013


I read that her skull was crushed by the bloody cricket bat. She wouldn't have crushed her own skull.

Why did he call his dad and friend before an ambulance or for help?
posted by discopolo at 12:02 PM on February 19, 2013


It could be the domestic violence angle: This all came out because she was swinging at him with a golf club, I don't remember now if she'd actually struck him before he ran away. Also, more athletic? The guy is a golfer, and his wife 5'11, just two inches shorter then him. I would guess the two would be pretty evenly matched, expecially given the fact she had a golf club.

With the golf club? Maybe. Without it? No chance. Woods is well known for spending a lot of time at the gym and being perhaps the first golfer in world history who looks good with his shirt off. He's 6'1'' and 185 lbs. If his (former model) ex-wife weighs much over 130lbs I'd be very surprised.

Yeah, he'd probably run if she charged at him with a three wood, but one on one it would be no contest.

Regarding steroids, I believe the PGA has started a drug testing program and Woods has been tested. This doesn't actually prove much of anything, of course, but they are banned.
posted by It's Never Lurgi at 12:02 PM on February 19, 2013


If it's just to recover from knee injury then what's the problem?

Better sportswriters than me have also wrestled with that exact question.

Where does one draw the line with "performance-enhancing" anything? Is LASIK surgery cheating? Mordecai Brown was missing a finger, and it helped him throw a specific pitch. Is that performance enhancing?

Which brings us full circle back to Pistorius' prosthetics.
posted by Cool Papa Bell at 12:03 PM on February 19, 2013 [1 favorite]


Having lived with a sleepwalker I can sadly believe his story. Especially if he was drinking or took a sleeping aid. If you ask my ex about the time the bear tried to get into our tent while we were camping (there was no bear) you will get a story like this. In reality it was a guy running around freaking out with a can of bearspray while two other people talked/ yelled at him. We had a gun too, thank God he didn't get hold of that.

I'm not defending him or saying I believe his story but I do find the combination of paranoia, sleepiness and availability of a loaded gun leading to this somewhat plausible.
posted by fshgrl at 12:08 PM on February 19, 2013 [2 favorites]


Saffer here (but not a lawyer). Either way Pistorious is screwed. SA has seriously strict firearms laws. Even warning shots are not allowed. Deliberately shooting through a door 4 times? Dude's going to jail, just a question of how long.
posted by PenDevil at 12:13 PM on February 19, 2013 [1 favorite]


My first thought was also automatism/somnambulism too, but his account seems to preclude that.
posted by unSane at 12:30 PM on February 19, 2013 [1 favorite]


You should be looking at the likelihood of Pistorius's killing his girlfriend vs. his mistakenly thinking someone was breaking into his house. Obviously the latter happens all the time, and apparently (even based on comments in this thread) many people in SA are on edge about the possibility of break-ins.

The former happens a lot, too. I'd guess that "killing one's partner" is more common than "shooting an intruder". This could be the exception -- there always are. But there is a history of violence from Pistorius, a history of "domestic incidents", and if we assume that women in South Africa are wary of going to the police about domestic violence, especially from a famous partner (as they are in most countries), "he lost his temper and shot his girlfriend 4 times through the door because she wouldn't come out" sounds more reasonable than "he thought there was a robber in the bathroom so he shot through the bathroom door 4 times".

Maybe I'm wrong. More information will come out, and even more will be presented at the trial. I rather hope I'm wrong.
posted by jeather at 12:39 PM on February 19, 2013 [1 favorite]


His account would be total fiction but very detailed and he would believe it absolutely If he was asleep or half asleep, in my experience. I've had so many conversations like this "there was no bat in the house last night. You did not wake up and catch a bat and let it go. I did not help. It did not happen. You sleepwalked into the kitchen and turned the stove on though". There was also the 700 times he thought my bathrobe hanging on a hook was a person standing by the door.

Again, I have no idea what really happened obviously and maybe he killed her deliberately, the police think so and they know more than I do. Also having lived with someone who frequently generated these kinds of ridiculous stories while half asleep this is exactly why I think having loaded weapons by your bed is a terrible, terrible idea. The person in your bedroom at night is almost certainly a family member.
posted by fshgrl at 12:48 PM on February 19, 2013 [1 favorite]


His version is as phony as a three-dollar bill.

And yes, I was one who fell for the Oscar Olympics hype. What a charming, handsome guy! What a compelling story!

OTOH Just yesterday on the Blue there was a Michael Jordan thread. Now there's a hugely popular guy who's *always* given me a creepy, he-could-or-maybe-has done serious-damage-to-someone vibe.

When you look at how many athletes have been accused of violent crimes or the lesser sins of cheating at their sport or deadbeat-dadding on numerous kids, hero worship looks ridiculous, and downright unhealthy. Yet most of us fall prey to it. If not with athletes, then actors or musicians. (An area where I myself am most susceptible to such obssessions.)

What is it in the human pysche that has us indulge in unreasoning pedestal-building to begin with?
posted by NorthernLite at 12:53 PM on February 19, 2013 [1 favorite]


I sleep poorly, and have woken up in a confused state on a number of occasions. I have woken up not knowing where I am, and I have thought that there were intruders in my house. Last night I even thought that baby racoons and mice were playing in my bed.

This is why keeping a loaded firearm within arms' reach of your bed is a terrible idea.

That being said, Pistorius' account leaves me with a number of questions, and does not seem wholly credible.
posted by TheWhiteSkull at 1:06 PM on February 19, 2013 [3 favorites]


OTOH Just yesterday on the Blue there was a Michael Jordan thread. Now there's a hugely popular guy who's *always* given me a creepy, he-could-or-maybe-has done serious-damage-to-someone vibe.

What? Michael Jordan is a competitive asshole. As far as I know there's no evidence that he's a violent competitive asshole.
posted by rdr at 1:13 PM on February 19, 2013 [2 favorites]


Then there's this:
Unconfirmed reports suggested that a bloodied cricket bat may have been used in the attack. However, police sources suggested that most items in the bedroom had been spattered with blood.
If the shooting happened in the bathroom, how'd blood get splattered in the bedroom? I'm not buying his story. Then there's the report of her skull being fractured, apparently in addition to the gunshot wounds.
posted by mullingitover at 1:14 PM on February 19, 2013


She wasn't dead when he carried her out through the bedroom so there was probably plenty of blood to go round.

It's perfectly possible that she fractured her skull in fall after being shot... these kinds of post-shooting injuries are quite common, broken noses and so on.
posted by unSane at 1:25 PM on February 19, 2013


Maybe Shadowrun was right and Cybernetics Eat Your Soul.
posted by Charlemagne In Sweatpants at 1:59 PM on February 19, 2013


Years ago, I had someone try to break in my house while I was home - and they knew I was at home at the time. It was sort of a stalk-ery situation, the intruder came back many times and it made me very paranoid about the idea of home invasions, a fear that I have mostly overcome, but something I have never completely shaken. I am sympathetic to the idea of paranoia or obsessive fear about this -- which is why two details in his account rang "off" to me.

"I went onto the balcony to bring the fan in and closed the sliding doors, the blinds and the curtains" and "There are no burglar bars across the bathroom window and I knew that contractors who worked at my house had left the ladders outside."

Falling asleep with a balcony sliding door open and allowing contractors to leave a ladder outside the house are two situations that I have trouble believing a person truly paranoid about home invasions would allow.

Yet as wild as my paranoid fears can be, if I had one other person staying in my house - let alone staying in my bed - and I heard a noise in another room at any time day or night, my first thought would be that it was my companion. I find it pretty incredible that he could discharge a gun without ensuring that the other party (his bedmate, no less!) was accounted for and safe.

I hope forensic clues will offer clarity so this can be resolved with certainty. For my money, I do not think this was accidental. It sickens me to think of that poor woman cowering in fear in a bathroom toilet stall.
posted by madamjujujive at 2:12 PM on February 19, 2013 [6 favorites]


Pistorius murdered his girlfriend in cold blood.

Pistorius murdered his girlfriend in cold blood.

Pistorius murdered his girlfriend in cold blood.

Read those lines over and over again, because I firmly believe Pistorius murdered his girlfriend in cold blood and there's absolutely nothing that apologists can say that will make me change my mind.
posted by item at 2:20 PM on February 19, 2013 [3 favorites]


I'd guess that "killing one's partner" is more common than "shooting an intruder"

I agree; but again, the question is whether he thought he was shooting an intruder.

But there is a history of violence from Pistorius, a history of "domestic incidents"

We really do not know that facts about this. There was another girlfriend who said he was never ever remotely violent.

The assumptions in this thread remind me of the Trayvon Martin discussion, in which people said there was no possible way TM might have attacked George Zimmerman. Which is not to say that Zimmerman's shooting, or Pistorius's, wasn't all kinds of messed up, tragic, and unjustified--but just that things might not have gone down the way things appear at first, or the way people initially assume.

It's perfectly possible that she fractured her skull in fall after being shot

Or that her skull was fractured by the shot? It seems like the post-mortem should be able to tell one way or the other. I hope so.

But I could be wrong and Pistorius could be a monster. I hope this is not the case, for the sake of his family at least.
posted by torticat at 2:33 PM on February 19, 2013


Falling asleep with a balcony sliding door open and allowing contractors to leave a ladder outside the house are two situations that I have trouble believing a person truly paranoid about home invasions would allow.

Right, it does seem inconceivable that someone paranoid enough to pump four bullets through a closed door at a suspected intruder would be careless enough to leave the balcony and bathroom windows open, and ladders up against the wall.

Unless they were very drunk or stoned <-- quite possibly

Or they were setting up a scenario <-- I don't believe this
posted by unSane at 2:52 PM on February 19, 2013


This line from the affidavit does not make a lot of sense to me:
16.15 I put on my prosthetic legs, ran back to the bathroom and tried to kick the toilet door open. I think I must then have turned on the lights. I went back into the bedroom and grabbed my cricket bat to bash open the toilet door. A panel or panels broke off and I found the key on the floor and unlocked and opened the door. Reeva was slumped over but alive.
Why would the key be on the ground next to the door? If he had bashed through the door with a cricket bat, couldn't have have just reached through the hole and unlocked the door from the inside?
posted by compartment at 2:54 PM on February 19, 2013


I can't help but think that if Pistorius had feet he'd be getting a lot less benefit of the doubt around here.
posted by rocket88 at 2:56 PM on February 19, 2013


Pistorius murdered his girlfriend in cold blood.

What's the point in making assumptions like this? If Pistorius did deliberately shoot Reeva, all indications seem to be that it was the opposite of a cold-blooded murder.
Domestic violence is not a cold-blooded crime.
posted by beau jackson at 2:57 PM on February 19, 2013 [2 favorites]


Domestic violence is not necessarily a cold-blooded crime. It certainly can be.
posted by Etrigan at 3:02 PM on February 19, 2013


Why would the key be on the ground next to the door? If he had bashed through the door with a cricket bat, couldn't have have just reached through the hole and unlocked the door from the inside?

Depends on the kind of lock. It might have needed a key, even from the inside, and bashing the door dislodged it, so it fell onto the floor, where Pistorius picked it up.
posted by Etrigan at 3:04 PM on February 19, 2013


Domestic violence is not necessarily a cold-blooded crime. It certainly can be.

You're right. I was thinking in typical cases but I was wrong to say that so unequivocally.
posted by beau jackson at 3:15 PM on February 19, 2013


I agree; but again, the question is whether he thought he was shooting an intruder.

If we have two groups, "men who kill their girlfriends on purpose" and "men who kill their girlfriends accidentally because they think it is an intruder" -- again, more information might well come out, and I can imagine ways in which it is the latter, but I'm betting on the former.
posted by jeather at 3:27 PM on February 19, 2013


And the Oscar goes to...South African Jail!
posted by Renoroc at 3:28 PM on February 19, 2013 [2 favorites]


.
posted by Cosine at 3:45 PM on February 19, 2013


His story makes no sense and even if we were to accept his ridiculous explanation, he is guilty of gross negligence and manslaughter at the very least.

He should be removed from society for a long time and given proper psychiatric treatment.
posted by smithsmith at 4:08 PM on February 19, 2013 [1 favorite]


If we have two groups, "men who kill their girlfriends on purpose" and "men who kill their girlfriends accidentally because they think it is an intruder" -- again, more information might well come out, and I can imagine ways in which it is the latter, but I'm betting on the former.

Not that it's remotely funny, but his actual defence is that he killed her accidentally on purpose.
posted by unSane at 4:10 PM on February 19, 2013


From the defense:
Roux says will put forward case after case where husbands shot wives through doors, where fathers shot children through doors, thinking they were burglars.

He said he would lay out case after case in which husbands shot wives and fathers shot children through doors thinking they were burglars. And he suggested that Pistorius broke down the door afterwards to help Steenkamp.


Really, is this "accidentally shot through a wall" a thing? Maybe in S Africa, not here. These are the only related cases I found, and yikes, they are pathetic:

Man Shoots and Kills Wife While Using Gun to Drill Holes

Woman Killed When Her Boyfriend Accidentally Shoots Cannon Into Their Home
posted by madamjujujive at 4:33 PM on February 19, 2013


There are certainly cases happening regularly where people kill family and friends thinking they're intruders.
posted by ThatCanadianGirl at 4:55 PM on February 19, 2013


I think this is what bothers me the most:

I fail to understand how I could be charged with murder, let alone premeditated murder, as I had no intention to kill my girlfriend, Reeva Steenkamp ("Reeva").

Either it's terribly written, or it's prima facie evidence of a narcissistic personality. If I had just shot my girlfriend dead in those circumstances I think I'd have a pretty fucking clear understanding of why I was being charged, even if I was completely innocent.

If you read the full affidavit, it says later on:

With the benefit of hindsight I believe that Reeva went to the toilet when I went out on the balcony to bring the fan in.

This implies that he saw or heard Reeva in bed before he stepped out. When he came back, there were noises coming from the bathroom. It's inconceivable to me that you wouldn't check to see if it was your partner, even if it was pitch black, maybe by feeling the bed or something.
posted by unSane at 5:29 PM on February 19, 2013 [7 favorites]


.
posted by homunculus at 8:15 PM on February 19, 2013


So scared of intruders that he left the balcony window open and let builders leave ladders outside.

So dark he couldn't find his GF in the bedroom, only his legs and his gun.

Therefore, when he realized there was someone in the loo, he had no choice but to assume it was... A third person who must have broken into the house?

Therefore, he had no choice but to shoot through a locked bathroom door? Four times.

Plus, police reports of domestic disturbances earlier in the day.

And now he - haughtily, it comes across to me - "fails to understand" why he's charged with murder?

Duh.
posted by tel3path at 11:17 PM on February 19, 2013 [6 favorites]


If anyone hasn't read the Murder without Murderers article that Longbaugh linked earlier, I highly recommend it.

I find Pistorius's story more plausible than that he went batshit in the middle of the night and killed his girlfriend of two months...
These are not the two scenarios to compare, though. Obviously there was no break-in scenario. You should be looking at the likelihood of Pistorius's killing his girlfriend vs. his mistakenly thinking someone was breaking into his house.

You make a good point about the break-in scenario being the wrong one, that it was a mistaken break-in and not a real one, which is pretty common. But take another look at the going batshit scenario too: most times when a guy kills his partner, it's after a long and escalating history of domestic violence, not a sudden "snap" moment of craziness. And I think if we compare that to a mistaken break-in, it's much more likely to be the one here even if people do mistakenly shoot family and friends sometimes.

There's a long history of women being afraid to report domestic violence for fear of reprisals and the scepticism of police and family. The same effect happens when the perpetrator is famous too.

I can't help but think that if Pistorius had feet he'd be getting a lot less benefit of the doubt around here.

Nah. It's cos he's a reasonably good-looking sports star, not because he's disabled. Check the recent thread about the footballer who shot his girlfriend then committed suicide. He got the benefit of the doubt regarding possible undiagnosed brain injuries, or steroid abuse, etc.
posted by harriet vane at 11:48 PM on February 19, 2013 [2 favorites]


.
posted by iamkimiam at 1:13 AM on February 20, 2013


From the Mail & Guardian Liveblog of the bail hearing:
There is no bloody cricket bat- as reported, so far. Botha thinks the cricket bat may have been used to try and break open the bathroom door.
posted by PenDevil at 1:38 AM on February 20, 2013


How long could the escalation with *Steenkamp* have been, though, considering he had been with her for only two months? I am wondering if this went from 0 to homicide in a single evening, and she showed no signs of having problems with him before that because she hadn't had any problems. I could believe that she had no reason to see it coming.
posted by tel3path at 2:05 AM on February 20, 2013


I was thinking that Pistorius had been escalating his violent reactions over many years with different women, rather than all at once with Steenkamp. If so, it certainly would have shaped his expectations about how a girlfriend "should" behave, and therefore increased his anger if she wasn't having a bar of it. But it's a good point and I'd like to know more.

It bugs me that local journalists are saying that they know of things the public would like to know but aren't able to report them because of the arrest. Why didn't they report them before, then? A similar thing happened when a sports star from my town was finally dropped from his team for drug abuse, after a long string of related incidents. They all loved partying with him until he was charged; then it was all brow-furrowing over how bad drugs are, mmkay.
posted by harriet vane at 4:38 AM on February 20, 2013 [3 favorites]


Oscar Pistorius and an unfathomable crime by Stella Young, editor of Ramp Up, a disability news and opinion site.
posted by harriet vane at 5:13 AM on February 20, 2013


harriet vane, that's exactly what I suspect.
posted by tel3path at 5:18 AM on February 20, 2013


And having just read that article by Stella Young, I have to say, yes and no.

This isn't a case of a "super-crip" failing to meet idealized expectations. He failed to meet the expectation of not murdering people. That's setting the bar pretty low for idealization.

I'm not shocked by this because I idealized him at all. I wasn't a specific fan of his, I'm not into many sports. He was someone I'd heard of. I was shocked because you don't expect anyone you've heard of to suddenly just up and shoot their GF. I'd be just as shocked if a neighbour down the street had done the same thing, and I don't idealize my neighbours.
posted by tel3path at 5:23 AM on February 20, 2013


I lived in South Africa for a time about 20 years ago, and I can't consider this story outside the context of the pervasive violence and machismo of the country in general, and the hermetic, paranoid nature of the Afrikaner communities in particular.

I can't even begin to imagine the kind of confusion going on in the head of an elite athlete with no legs who grew up in a culture obsessed with physical perfection and burdened with the history of white supremacy. How would he feel about his imperfect, incomplete body compared to that of his gorgeous, glamorous able-bodied trophy girlfriend? For what it's worth, I can believe that he had no intention of killing Reeva on any conscious level, but semi-conscious in the middle of the night? Who knows what's possible. At the very least, it's culpable homicide.

Anyway, a couple of pieces by South African writers, whose insights chime very strongly with my limited experience of a country where violence, particularly against women, is completely normalised.

South Africa's macho society, where attacks on women are the norm

Oscar Pistorius, our flawed hero, has fallen
posted by Elizabeth the Thirteenth at 5:54 AM on February 20, 2013 [2 favorites]


Accidents with guns do seem to happen while he's around, don't they?

He took a gun to a restaurant? And accidentally fired it because the safety got caught on his trouser pocket?

My dad was a rifleman and someone accidentally fired a shot past him on -one- occasion. He couldn't hear for a week and he also couldn't think for a week.

But, there he is with his friend in a restaurant and oops! a handgun goes off! butterfingers!!! and the friend says Oscar was "really apologetic" but not "negligent" because it was an accident and all that, and Oscar just goes right on handling guns, and in general no-one seems to mind.

Like, seriously, is this something South Africans think is normal? I find that really, really hard to believe.
posted by tel3path at 6:08 AM on February 20, 2013 [1 favorite]


Like, seriously, is this something South Africans think is normal? I find that really, really hard to believe.

You'd be amazed at some of the things South Africans think are normal. Really, really amazed.

(like, i am trying very, very hard not to make sweeping generalisations here, but man, are they ever weird. Even the nice ones.)
posted by Elizabeth the Thirteenth at 6:22 AM on February 20, 2013


A detective testified today that a witness said he heard a shot, then a woman screaming, and then more shots. More from CNN:
"[Defense attorney] Roux questioned police arguments that a witness heard sounds of an argument before the shooting. The witness, Roux said, lives 600 meters (656 yards) from Pistorius' home. Prosecutor Gerrie Nel countered that the witness lives 300 meters (328 yards) away."

But even at 300m that would mean the witness was three city blocks distant... What?

According to CNN the prosecutor acknowledged that the "investigators have found no evidence that is inconsistent with Pistorius' story"... which I suppose calls into question earlier reports of blood spattered all over the bedroom.

What a strange story. I hope that they are able to get at the truth one way or the other.
posted by torticat at 7:41 AM on February 20, 2013


300m is a long way but you could certainly hear yelling and see lights in the middle of the night if there was no ambient noise and you had a clear line of sight. That's one of those things you'd have to go there at 3am to determine.
posted by unSane at 7:51 AM on February 20, 2013


Here's sort of a play-by-play of prosecution vs defense today.

The prosecution comes across as almost incompetent.

unSane, you could see lights from three blocks away, but arguing or yelling inside a house? No way. If we could here all the altercations within a three-block radius where I live, we'd never have a moment's peace. There is ambient noise here, true, but not that much at 3am.

I know, this is all just speculation; I just think it's really odd the prosecution is leaning on a witness that far away to say what time the arguing or screaming started, whether it was a man or a woman yelling, etc. That witness also said there were six shots when there were apparently only four.
posted by torticat at 8:21 AM on February 20, 2013


Yelling in a house with the windows open in a quite suburban neighborhood on a still night? Sure you'd hear it. You're thinking of city blocks not a gated community. I live in the country and my nearest neighbour is about 900' away and I can hear them clearly at night if the kids start yelling.
posted by unSane at 8:28 AM on February 20, 2013 [1 favorite]


Excerpted from his affidavit:
...
16.15I put on my prosthetic legs, ran back to the bathroom and tried to kick the toilet door open. I think I must then have turned on the lights.


What? He says that Reeva went to the bathroom in the dark and didn't turn on the light?
I dunno, but I don't think he's got a leg to stand on.
posted by sour cream at 8:37 AM on February 20, 2013 [1 favorite]


What? He says that Reeva went to the bathroom in the dark and didn't turn on the light?

In the middle of the night, I don't turn the light on to go to the bathroom.
posted by jeather at 9:03 AM on February 20, 2013


I clearly have no concept of the latest technology in prosthetics. He's trying to kick down a locked door while wearing two prosthetic legs? I can't picture that.
posted by ThatCanadianGirl at 9:56 AM on February 20, 2013


So a bunch of guys I work with were talking about this. They all sleep with multiple loaded weapons within reach and literally have been waiting their whole lives for someone to break in so they can be a hero. We've talked about it before and I basically said "you're going to shoot your wives one night". They were all "no way! I'm like a trained ninja except with no training and I'm in middle management". Today they were all reassuring each other that Pistorious is a stupid fool and they would never screw up like that no way! Or they think he shot her on purpose because men don't screw up like that protecting their wimmen.

Good Lord.
posted by fshgrl at 10:14 AM on February 20, 2013 [8 favorites]


Sour cream, that bit of the statement has been stuck in my head since I read it, not because of the "lights" angle (no one in my house turns on lights to go pee at 3 am) but because he went to confront a possible intruder without his prosthetics on (and says he only has limited mobility without them). One of my housemates in college was a double amputee, and he could get around pretty well without his legs, but whenever there was something going on (noises outside that sounded weird and once someone trying to break in), the first thing he did was put on his legs, because not having them on would be a serious disadvantage if something serious went down. It just seems weird that he didn't think to put them on first before facing someone who he thought was breaking into his house.

And as to hearing yelling, screaming and such from blocks away? I live in a dense city area, and in the middle of the night I can hear stuff going on three or more blocks away, especially when people have their windows open. At my mom's house where it's really quiet (with no ambient city sounds) yelling can be heard even further away.
posted by Orb at 11:09 AM on February 20, 2013 [2 favorites]


Not a huge surprise that the witnesses would be able to hear loud noises from far away at night. It's physics.
posted by mullingitover at 11:40 AM on February 20, 2013 [2 favorites]


fshgrl, from what you say I do start to think he didn't consciously intend to kill her. It also explains why the prosecution are making the case the way they are - that it could never happen to them.

How you make that mistake without at least *unconscious* intent to murder, though, I can't see.
posted by tel3path at 11:53 AM on February 20, 2013


It must be so comforting to have your husband sleeping with live firearms within reach, especially after a drunken argument.
posted by unSane at 12:32 PM on February 20, 2013 [2 favorites]


Well we have no way of knowing what happened. I know I'm not sold on his story but I do know enough paranoid fools to think it's plausible. Especially if booze or weed are involved.

I 100% will not date a guy with this mindset, btw, which is common in the part of the US I live in. Nothing more dangerous to a woman than some jackass trying to be a hero and "protect" her from imaginary enemies. Not to mention irritating.
posted by fshgrl at 12:37 PM on February 20, 2013 [4 favorites]


Every decision he said he made, if we believe his story, is so motherfucking stupid that even if he didn't intentionally kill her, I really wish there was a law against being so stupid around a firearm that he went to jail for it anyway. Or... isn't that basically negligible homicide?
posted by marylynn at 1:15 PM on February 20, 2013 [6 favorites]


I think it's negligent homicide in some US states if somebody acted not on what they knew (that it could have been an intruder in the bathroom) but on what they reasonably should have known (that it was probably his GF in the bathroom, and shooting 4 times through a closed door without asking 'is that you my little chickadee?' might cause misfortune and lead to discomfiting questions being asked).

Supposedly, he's a product of his culture? Yikes.
posted by tel3path at 4:26 PM on February 20, 2013


Just to note that Stella Young is herself disabled and puts up with a lot of "oh you're such a champion" comments when she catches the train to work or blows her nose or whatever. So her take on hero-worship of people with disabilities is a bit more complex than maybe comes across in just that article. I'd forgotten that context when I linked it, probably should have mentioned it - this is why I rarely make FPPs :)

I'm definitely worried that the prosecution isn't doing a good job if that liveblog is accurate. I know it's just a bail hearing and not a full trial yet, but it seems quite haphazard so far.
posted by harriet vane at 9:24 PM on February 20, 2013 [1 favorite]


If this is true then it's... Odd.
posted by the duck by the oboe at 11:13 PM on February 20, 2013


If this is true then it's... Odd.

Clearly if people can't get into Clown College, there's always work in the South African police force.
posted by daveje at 1:05 AM on February 21, 2013 [1 favorite]


But does Stella Young get applause when not murdering people? I haven't killed anyone in over a week. As an invisibly-disabled person, I demand equal applause!
posted by tel3path at 2:08 AM on February 21, 2013 [2 favorites]


If I can admit it privately on the internet...I have a sort of guilty frisson of delight whenever I think of this because no one will ever mention Oscar Pistorius to me again (I have a prosthetic leg) unless, perhaps, I murder someone. The disabled people into sports. Why do I care? The disabled people with legs that cost more than I made in the last five years, total? Why do I care?

A couple of legs like that. Take the cost and send it to Haiti or any other country without modern medical care. To use these resources for running around. It smacks of wickedness, and for once I am not using "wicked" as satire. Suddenly my job requires that I stand all the time. My leg, my real leg inside the prosthetic leg, is completely shot. These people who call him an inspiration? Are they going to pay for a cab home since I can't walk after 8 hours without sitting? And I'm not any little kid in Haiti. Such a kid would trade places with me any day, I suspect.

That, of course, and I also feel that he has disgraced all disabled people everywhere and it's a tragedy for us. I would mention the Rosenbergs...except the Rosenbergs NEVER KILLED ANYONE. /rant
posted by skbw at 2:48 PM on February 23, 2013 [8 favorites]


Apparently, skbw, not murdering people is harder than it looks. I'd take all the doors off your bathrooms just to be safe.

On a serious note, though, it used to be Terry Fox who got used as the super-crip archetype, someone else will take over from Pistorius too.

I reckon the Haitian Paralympians would have a lot of empathy for your situation: http://www.telegraph.co.uk/sport/olympics/paralympic-sport/9523658/Paralympics-2012-disabled-people-are-treated-very-very-badly-in-Haiti.-We-are-seen-as-different.html
posted by tel3path at 3:33 PM on February 23, 2013 [1 favorite]




Sure, he might spend the rest of his life in a cramped prison cell, but the good news is, they almost certainly won't take away his prosthetics.

Still, I'd rather be a killer than a victim. It's too bad she won't live, but then again, who does?
posted by markkraft at 1:51 PM on March 1, 2013


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