April 8, 2014

#OscarTrial: And The World Awaits Cross-Examination

As the world watched Oscar Pistorius testify today, many were drawn to tears as he sobbed when describing the events that led up to and the moment of Reeva Steenkamp's death at his hands.

I try not to be the judge and jury regarding cases such as these. Oh, yes, I have my opinions, opinions that cannot see through the irrational way in which he confronted the situation, and hardly exonerate him as a blameless victim of South African crime and fear. But the fact remains: Oscar Pistorius killed Reeva Steenkamp.

After the news hit on February 14, 2013, that something had happened at Oscar's home in Silver Woods Estate in Pretoria, social networks were in a flurry to discover what had exactly happened. The initial statement from the police showed that a man had killed a woman - but it couldn't possibly have been Oscar, the most famous Paralympic athlete in the world?

As with all cases of this ilk involving celebrities, the world is quick to turn its back on those they once favoured, envied, and worshipped, and opinions quickly shift from the positive to the negative, with many saying they never liked him, or they thought he was too arrogant, or other personal attacks on his character.

Keeping a firm eye on the trial since it started - lucky me; I'm in online publishing - the State's case appears weaker than they would have had us believe. They have certainly managed to make Oscar out as a short-tempered man with a fondness for guns, while the witnesses called for the State's prosecution were at pains to prove they had heard shouts and screams before hearing the gunshots. The Defence is adamant that these witnesses were hearing the pained screams of Oscar himself, as he expressed his anguish on discovering his error, and that the sounds they heard after the screams were the peals of a cricket bat breaking through the bathroom door.

Oscar's defence attorney is allowing him to express his statement in his own words now, and is gentle with him, but I think everyone is waiting for State prosecutor Gerrie Nel to show his teeth as he cross-examines every detail of Oscar's affidavit and sworn testimony.

After a debate with work colleagues this afternoon, I was sent a link to a video showing that the sounds of gunshots versus cricket bats slamming on doors is very similar. Check it out here.

That led me to the below interview with Robert Shapiro, that epitome of celebrity defence lawyers. It is interesting, as he says the first thing he tells his clients is to keep their mouths shut; something Oscar has not done.

What do you think so far?

{Image source: Wikimedia Commons\Elvar Pálsson}

Other videos you may like to watch:
Reeva: The Model You Thought You Knew
Oscar Pistorius What Really Happened
(BBC) (This one is really good for background on Oscar and Reeva, with interviews with her best friend and an ex-boyfriend who saw her for coffee two days before she was killed)
20.23: Another one: Reeva's Cousin Says She Wasn't In Love
20.28: June Steenkamp Speaks Out (She talks about Reeva telling her she and Oscar were fighting a lot)
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