News / Africa

Pistorius Verdict Set for September 11

Chief defense lawyer for Oscar Pistorius, Barry Roux, addresses the court, in Pretoria, South Africa, Aug. 8, 2014.
Chief defense lawyer for Oscar Pistorius, Barry Roux, addresses the court, in Pretoria, South Africa, Aug. 8, 2014.
Anita Powell

The judge in the murder trial of South African runner Oscar Pistorius says she will give her verdict on September 11.  The date was set after Pistorius's lawyer Barry Roux finished making his closing arguments Friday.  
 
In 41 days of testimony - some of it intensely emotional, some of it intricately technical - both sides in Oscar Pistorius’ murder trial attempted to answer one simple question: Did he mean to kill his girlfriend when he shot four times through a locked bathroom door at his home?
 
Now, one person will have to make a decision: Judge Thokozile Masipa.  Maspia said Friday she will announce her ruling in just under five weeks' time, on September 11.

FILE - An undated portfolio photo supplied by Ice Model Management in Johannesburg of Oscar Pistorius' late girlfriend, Reeva Steenkamp, during a photo shoot.FILE - An undated portfolio photo supplied by Ice Model Management in Johannesburg of Oscar Pistorius' late girlfriend, Reeva Steenkamp, during a photo shoot.
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FILE - An undated portfolio photo supplied by Ice Model Management in Johannesburg of Oscar Pistorius' late girlfriend, Reeva Steenkamp, during a photo shoot.
FILE - An undated portfolio photo supplied by Ice Model Management in Johannesburg of Oscar Pistorius' late girlfriend, Reeva Steenkamp, during a photo shoot.

Pistorius is charged with murdering his girlfriend, model Reeva Steenkamp, at his Pretoria home in February  2013.  The Olympic runner - who runs on high-tech prosthetic legs - says he lives under constant anxiety and mistook Steenkamp for an intruder.   
 
During his closing arguments on Thursday, chief prosecutor Gerrie Nel again showed why he is nicknamed “the bulldog.”  Nel has repeatedly accused Pistorius of painting an untruthful version of events, and Thursday was no different.  As is custom in South African courts, Nel addressed his arguments to Judge Masipa.
 
"We say, my lady, it's the state's case that the accused was a deceitful witness and the court should have no difficulty in rejecting his core version of events, not only as not reasonably possibly true but in essence as being absolutely devoid of any truth," said Nel.

  • Reeva Steenkamp's parents, June (second from right) and Barry Steenkamp (second from left), arrive for the closing arguments in Oscar Pistorius' murder trial, at the high court in Pretoria, Aug. 7, 2014.
  • Oscar Pistorius (right) with his defense team Barry Roux (foreground), Brian Webber (left) and Kenny Oldwage (center) before the closing arguments, in the North Gauteng High Court, in Pretoria, Aug. 7, 2014.
  • State Prosecutor Gerrie Nel speaks during the closing arguments in the trial of Oscar Pistorius, in the North Gauteng High Court, in Pretoria, Aug. 7, 2014.
  • Oscar Pistorius arrives in court for the closing arguments of his trial, at the North Gauteng High Court in Pretoria, Aug. 7, 2014.
  • Henke Pistorius, father of Oscar Pistorius, leaves after listening to the closing arguments in his son's murder trial at the high court, in Pretoria, Aug. 7, 2014.

Then, on Friday, it was show time for defense lawyer Barry Roux.  During what amounted to a five-hour monologue, Roux again argued that the crime scene was bungled by police and that Nel’s arguments were inconsistent and flawed.

He also tried to explain the root of Pistorius' anxiety.
 
"You are little boy without legs, you experience daily that disability and the effect of this. … So that constant reminder, 'I do not have legs, I cannot run away, I am not the same,' that's with him. … And that's why I made that submission yesterday my lady, to say we must understand that slow burn and the anxiety.  If you are anxious and if you are vulnerable and if you have the slow burn effect you don't go to bed and can't sleep and lie awake.  But the moment you confront it with danger or perceived danger it comes to the fore," said Roux.

In a surprising move, he also compared Pistorius’ anxiety to that of an abused woman who one day snaps and says “I’ve had enough.”
 
That last point prompted a rare comment from Judge Masipa, who asked what relevance an abused woman has to this case.

Pistorius himself sat impassively during the arguments Friday, with family members sitting nearby.  Also making a rare appearance were his estranged father and Steenkamp’s father, Barry, who has had recent health problems.

All parties, along with the global media who have been covering this trial, now wait for the judge to deliver her verdict.

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