Oscar Pistorius was charged with premeditated murder of his girlfriend Reeva Steenkamp during a packed hearing in a Pretoria, South Africa courthouse Tuesday. The charge was upgraded after new details of the tragic shooting emerged and were laid out by the State.
The double-amputee Olympic sprinter, known as the "Blade Runner," took the time to put on his prosthetic limbs, picked up his 9mm pistol, walked over to a locked bathroom and fired four shots through the door fatally wounding the 29-year-old Steenkamp three times in the head, chest and arm during a Valentine's Day argument, according to prosecutors.
The disgraced Pistorius bowed his head and sobbed uncontrollably as his defense lawyer, Barry Roux, challenged the State's case. The Paralympic champion is applying for bail.
More than 200 photographers, reporters and TV camera men swarmed the Pretoria Regional Court for the high-profile hearing as prosecutors set up their case.
“Our case is that the applicant (Pistorius) shot and killed an unarmed, innocent woman in the early hours of February 14,” Prosecutor Gerrie Nel told the court, revealing details of the State’s case for the first time. “We say the only reasonable inference is that applicant armed himself, attached his prostheses, walked seven metres to the bathroom and shot the deceased while she was in the toilet. He fired four times and aimed at the basin...She was shot three times.
“The door to the toilet was broken open from the outside and we can infer that she was locked in there," added Nel. "He then carried the deceased down the stairs when he walked into a security guard who had come into the house. The front door was open.”
Pistorius subsequently told the security guard and friends that he had mistaken Steenkamp for a burglar.
It is a claim, that Nel believes was “all part of the pre-planning” of the murder. “It was what he would say if people arrived at the house...[But] Why would a burglar lock himself in the bathroom?”
Even if Pistorius’ story about mistaking Steenkamp for a burglar were plausible, Nel argued, Pistorius “walked to the bathroom with clear intention to kill the burglar and did so while the burglar was harmless in the toilet.
“If I take my gun and walk from the bedroom to toilet and shoot the burglar, this in itself constitutes premeditated murder of a defenseless burglar. Premeditation does not require months of planning. If I arm myself and walk a distance with intention to kill someone it is premeditated.”
Nel claims Steenkamp spent the night with Pistorius and an overnight bag was found in the bedroom of his home in an exclusive gated community in eastern Pretoria.
Roux challenged the State's case.
"All we really know is that she locked herself in the toilet, she was shot through the toilet door," he argued. "That is all we know. If you scratch the veneer off (the State's case), where is the pre-meditation, where is the pre-planning?
"Do they have evidence this was not a very good relationship?" he asked. "Then they should put it before the court that there was a serious problem in this relationship. But they cannot do that (because they don't have it)."