News / Africa

Defense Lawyer Emerges as Star in Pistorius Murder Trial

Oscar Pistorius talks with attorney Barry Roux, left, on the second day of trial, Pretoria, March 4, 2014.
Oscar Pistorius talks with attorney Barry Roux, left, on the second day of trial, Pretoria, March 4, 2014.
Anita Powell
As Oscar Pistorius' trial progresses with explosive testimony from witnesses, attention has gravitated to his bulldog of a defense lawyer, Barry Roux.
 
The star double-amputee athlete stands charged with murdering his model girlfriend Reeva Steenkamp at his Pretoria home last year.  Pistorius says he mistook Steenkamp for an intruder when he shot four times through a locked bathroom door.
 
Pistorius has long lived in the spotlight, overcoming his disability and becoming the first double-amputee to run in the Olympics, at the 2012 London Games.
 
But in recent days, the gray-haired Roux has shared that spotlight.  His cross-examination skills and sharp wit have caught the eye of the world’s media, even leading one British newspaper to dub him a “silver fox.”
 
Some have even compared Roux to O.J. Simpson defense lawyer Johnnie Cochran, who successfully got the famous American football player acquitted of murder charges in what was then the most-watched trial in U.S. history.
 
That victory was credited in part to his famous rhyme: “If the glove don't fit, you must acquit.”
 
Roux has yet to come up with a catchy phrase like that.  But what he lacks in rhymes he more than makes up for in his cross-examination skills.
 
On Tuesday, he asked witness Michelle Burger, a neighbor of Pistorius, the same question eight times in a row in an effort to get her to contradict her testimony.  She held firm in her account that she heard screams, then what sounded like gunshots and more screams, from the athlete’s home the night of the February 14, 2013 shooting.
 
Roux was more successful in dismantling the testimony of Charl Johnson, Burger’s husband.  He tried to cast doubt on his testimony by saying it was too similar to his wife’s account.
 
During an exchange between him and Judge Thokozile Masipa, the judge asked "Aren’t you going a bit too far, Mr. Roux?”
 
Roux challenged that notion, responding that he takes his job seriously.  He then turned, faced the press gallery and looked directly at Pistorius, who sat alone in the large box reserved for the accused.
 
"I'm not talking about lying or not lying.  And I'm trying, in all fairness; a man's life is at stake," Roux said.
 
But he is also quick to acknowledge his limits, and show vulnerability.  When the prosecution introduced witness Kevin Lerena unexpectedly, he asked for a delay to prepare.
 
Lerena, a professional boxer and friend of Pistorius, testified about a January 2013 incident in which he says the star athlete accidentally fired a loaded weapon at an upscale Johannesburg restaurant. 
 
"I don't want to cross-examine a boxer," Roux quipped, prompting laughs from the entire court.
 
Minutes later, Roux said he couldn't be formally interviewed when VOA News approached him and asked about his performance in court.
 
But, when asked if he thought he had been too tough on witnesses, he broke into a wide grin, and responded, "I'm a teddy bear."

  • Oscar Pistorius leaves the high court in Pretoria, April 14, 2014.
  • Oscar Pistorius outside the North Gauteng High Court in Pretoria, April 10, 2014.
  • Jane Steenkamp, Reeva Steenkamp's mother is comforted by a relative after her dead daughter's picture was shown on screen during the trial of Oscar Pistorius at the North Gauteng High Court in Pretoria, April 9, 2014.
  • Family members, including uncle Arnold Pistorius, right, cry as they listen to Oscar Pistorius testifying in court in Pretoria, April 8, 2014.
  • Oscar Pistorius becomes emotional during his trial at the high court in Pretoria, April 7, 2014.
  • Members of the public crowd around Oscar Pistorius as he leaves the high court, Pretoria, March 12, 2014.

  • Oscar Pistorius cries as he prays with his sister Aimee and brother Carl at his indictment at the magistrates court in Pretoria, August 19, 2013.
  • This aerial image taken from video provided by VNS24/7 shows the home of Oscar Pistorius in a gated housing complex in Pretoria, Feb. 14, 2013.
  • Olympian runner Oscar Pistorius posing next to his girlfriend Reeva Steenkamp at Melrose Arch in Johannesburg, Jan. 26, 2013.
  • Oscar Pistorius celebrates winning the men's 400 meter final during the London 2012 Paralympic Games, Sept. 8, 2012.

You May Like

Multimedia Obama Defends Immigration Action

Obama says with his executive action on immigration, enforcement resources will be focused on 'felons, not families; criminals, not children' More

US-Led Airstrikes in Syria Kill Over 900: Monitoring Group

British-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights says the toll includes more than 50 civilians, five of them women and eight of them children More

Report: Obama Broadens US Combat Role in Afghanistan

The New York Times says resident Barack Obama has signed a classified order extending the role of US troops in Afghanistan for another year More

This forum has been closed.
Comment Sorting
Comments
     
by: MzSugah from: Florida
March 06, 2014 10:24 AM
No one can say what they will do in any given situation of a perceived danger...some freeze, some react as Pistorius had by shooting first and looking afterwards. Whatever happened that evening he murdered her. He might have shouted thru that closed door fist.I do think most people would have checked by reaching a hand out across the bed to see if their sleeping companion was safely there before moving elsewhere. That is supposition but I think most people would do just that..Sadly, I think he is guilty altho it was not premeditated., it was a loss of temper.


by: jcscott125
March 05, 2014 12:02 PM
I gotta be honest, I find Roux really obnoxious and don't think he's doing that great a job either. I don't think asking a witness the same question 8 times in a row is an admirable tactic, it's more like beating on someone with a baton until they say what you want them to say or start bawling, whatever comes first. If a husband and wife are in the same room of the same house at the same time and they hear the same event, why in God's name would you expect their accounts to differ substantially from one another? Finally, he contradicted his own cross examination on day 2 by pointing out that the first bullet fired hit her finger first because it was in front of her face to protect her head, that the finger shot was a defensive wound basically. But why would you cower to protect yourself from a bullet you're not expecting? The only reasonable conclusion is that it's because they were fighting and Pistorious was screaming threats at her. Can't stand Roux, he's a petulant bully and he's going to lose.


by: Piet Stassen from: South Africa
March 05, 2014 11:33 AM
OSCAR PISTORIUS TRIAL: If the sounds that the witness Burger had heard over the alleged distance of 177 meters were really that of cricket-bat blows and not that of gunshots, how come witness Burger is audio-metrically gifted enough to have heard cricket-bat blows on a door 177 meters away but not to have heard the fatal gunshots from a lethal 9 mm gun 177 meters away? After all, if no shots were fired how did Reeva sustain those wounds? And, if shots were fired, does it not stand to reason that someone would have heard it? j(2) I think Attorney Barry Roux's defence arguments on Day 1 did not make much sense and he was badgering the witness unfairly as if the witness is an imbecile.


by: greg from: connecticut
March 05, 2014 10:27 AM
If he thought it was an intruder then he's an idiot. People need to stop shooting first. Too many crazy people with guns.

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
New Skateboard Defies Gravityi
X
November 21, 2014 5:07 AM
A futuristic dream only a couple of decades ago, the hoverboard – a skateboard that floats above the ground - has finally been made possible. While still not ready for mass production, it promises to become a cool mode of transport... at least over some surfaces. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video New Skateboard Defies Gravity

A futuristic dream only a couple of decades ago, the hoverboard – a skateboard that floats above the ground - has finally been made possible. While still not ready for mass production, it promises to become a cool mode of transport... at least over some surfaces. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Falling Gas Prices Impact US Oil Extraction

With the price of oil now less than $80 a barrel, motorists throughout the United States are benefiting from gas prices below $3 a gallon. But as VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, the decreasing price of petroleum has a downside for the hydraulic fracturing industry in the United States.
Video

Video Tensions Build on Korean Peninsula Amid Military Drills

It has been another tense week on the Korean peninsula as Pyongyang threatened to again test nuclear weapons while the U.S. and South Korean forces held joint military exercises in a show of force. VOA’s Brian Padden reports from the Kunsan Air Base in South Korea.
Video

Video Mama Sarah Obama Honored at UN Women’s Entrepreneurship Day

President Barack Obama's step-grandmother is in the United States to raise money to build a $12 million school and hospital center in Kogelo, Kenya, the birthplace of the president's father, Barack Obama, Sr. She was honored for her decades of work to aid poor Kenyans at a Women's Entrepreneurship Day at the United Nations.
Video

Video Gay Evangelicals Argue That Bible Does Not Condemn Homosexuality

More than 30 U.S. states now recognize same-sex marriages, and an increasing number of mainline American churches are blessing them. But evangelical church members- which account for around 30 percent of the U.S. adult population - believe the Bible unequivocally condemns homosexuality. VOA's Jerome Socolovsky reports that gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender evangelicals are coming out. Backed by a prominent evangelical scholar, they argue that the traditional reading of the bible is wrong.
Video

Video Ebola Economic Toll Stirs W. Africa Food Security Concerns

The World Bank said Wednesday that it expects the economic impact of the Ebola outbreak on the sub-Saharan economy to cost somewhere betweenf $3 billion to $4 billion - well below a previously-outlined worst-case scenario of $32 billion. Some economists, however, paint a gloomier picture - warning that the disruption to regional markets and trading is considerable. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
Video

Video Mexico Protests Escalate Over Disappearances

Protests in Mexico over 43 students missing since September continue to escalate, reflecting growing anger among Mexicans about a political system they view as corrupt, and increasingly tainted by the drug trade. Mounting outrage over the disappearances is now focused on the government of President Enrique Pena Nieto, accused of not doing enough to end insecurity in the country. More from VOA's Victoria Macchi.
Video

Video US Senate Votes Down Controversial Oil Pipeline - For Now

The U.S. Senate has rejected construction of a controversial pipeline to transport Canadian oil to American refineries. The $5 billion project still could be approved next year, but it faces a possible veto by President Barack Obama. As VOA’s Michael Bowman reports, the pipeline has exposed deep divisions in Congress about America’s energy future.
Video

Video Can Minsk Cease-fire Agreement Hold?

Growing tensions between government troops and separatists in eastern Ukraine further threaten a cease-fire agreement reached two months ago in the Belarusian capital of Minsk. Critics of U.S. policy in Ukraine say it is time the Obama administration gives up on that much-violated cease-fire and moves toward a new deal with Russia. VOA's Scott Stearns has more.
Video

Video Chaos, Abuse Defy Solution in Libya

The political and security crisis in Libya is deepening, with competing governments and, according to Amnesty International, widespread human rights violations committed with impunity. VOA’s Al Pessin reports from London.
Video

Video US Hosts Record 866,000 Foreign Students

Close to 900,000 international students are studying at American universities and colleges, more than ever before. About half of them come from Asia, mostly China. The United States hosts more foreign students than any other country in the world, and its foreign student population is steadily growing. Zlatica Hoke reports.
Video

Video Ferguson Church Grapples with Race Relations

Many white residents of Ferguson, Missouri, say they chose to live there because of the American Midwest community's diversity. So, they were shocked when a white police officer killed an unarmed black teenager in August – and shaken by the resulting protests and violence. Some local churches are leading conversations on how to go forward. VOA’s Ayesha Tanzeem reports.

All About America

AppleAndroid