Tuesday, December 12, 2017
Sports

Legal debate begins today

JOHANNESBURG — South Africa's prosecutors will begin explaining today why they accuse Olympian Oscar Pistorius of committing murder in the Valentine's Day shooting death of his girlfriend Reeva Steenkamp.

Pistorius, 26, hasn't entered a plea. His family strongly denies the double-amputee runner committed murder, but have not denied outright that Pistorius shot Steenkamp, 29, a model and law school graduate who was featured in a South African reality television show.

Here are some facts about the case that has shaken a nation that idolized the runner:

The model girlfriend

Steenkamp was a celebrity in South Africa, known for domestic and international commercials. She was named one of the world's 100 sexiest women for two years running by FHM magazine. She met Pistorius in November at a race track near Johannesburg.

The killing

In the predawn Feb. 14, police officers arrived at Pistorius' home in a gated community in the suburbs of Pretoria. Police said they found paramedics trying to resuscitate Steenkamp, lying in a pool of blood. Police say officers found a 9 mm pistol and arrested Pistorius, who they say was the only other person in the home at the time of the shooting. Pistorius underwent DNA testing and had samples of his blood collected. Police declined to give information about what an autopsy revealed. They said Steenkamp was shot multiple times. Police have not offered a motive. Pistorius' uncle Arnold said that "the state's own case, including its own forensic evidence, strongly refutes any possibility of a premeditated murder or murder as such."

A troubled past

In February 2009, Pistorius crashed a speedboat on South Africa's Vaal River, breaking his nose, jaw and several ribs and damaging an eye socket. Witnesses said he had been drinking, and officers found alcoholic beverages in the wreckage, though they did not do blood tests. In November Pistorius reportedly was involved in an altercation, over a woman, with a coal mining millionaire. The South African Police Service's Hawks investigative unit became involved before the two settled the matter. Pistorius had a fondness for guns and once tweeted about searching his house with a pistol, looking for an intruder.

The bail hearing

The bail hearing today and Wednesday in Pretoria will see prosecutors offer Chief Magistrate Desmond Nair evidence to bolster their arguments that Pistorius should be denied bail. Evidence likely will include specific details about the killing and why they believe he killed Steenkamp. Pistorius likely will offer a plea. Prosecutors plan to pursue a premeditated murder charge. Nair will hear the prosecution and the defense, then issue a bail ruling. If Pistorius is held without bail until trial, he will be transferred from the police station he's being held in to prison, likely in Pretoria.

South African justice

South Africa has a court system that takes root in Roman-Dutch law. Those appearing in criminal trials do not have the option of a jury trial. Instead, a single judge will hear the entire case then rule on guilt or innocence. The judge can be assisted by two advisers who offer assistance in looking at the more technical aspects of the evidence. If found guilty, a person can appeal the ruling or the sentence. A premeditated murder charge carries a minimum of life in prison. There is no death penalty in South Africa.

Reaction to the case

The day of the shooting, companies quickly removed billboards and advertising featuring Pistorius. One pulled an ad for Nike that showed Pistorius starting to sprint, with the caption: "I am the bullet in the chamber." Monday, Oakley, an eyewear maker, suspended its contract with Pistorius. Nike said it has no plans to use him in future ads.

 
Comments
Holiday hoops tournaments for Tampa Bay

Holiday hoops tournaments for Tampa Bay

Once winter break rolls around, basketball tourneys and shootouts amp up. Here are the locals ones coming up throughout Tampa Bay. Are we missing your tournament? Email details to [email protected] basketballCDS Holiday TournamentWhere: Car...
Updated: 5 hours ago

Girls soccer: Land O’Lakes 5, River Ridge 1

LAND O'LAKES – They might not have been ready to play at the very start, but Land O'Lakes came around. Sydny Nasello scored two goals as the Gators (8-2) took over first place in Class 3A, District 8 with a 5-1 defeat of visiting Rive...
Updated: 3 hours ago
Live from Disney: Winter meetings update, day 2

Live from Disney: Winter meetings update, day 2

The Rays have talked about a lot of things but not done much so far at the winter meetings, but that could change today.They have offers on the table for closer Alex Colome, and some of the interested teams – such as the Cardinals and Rockies &...
Updated: 2 hours ago
Could the Yankees’ new Death Star prompt a Rays surrender?

Could the Yankees’ new Death Star prompt a Rays surrender?

I have a theory that Major League Baseball is always way more interesting when the New York Yankees are good.Well, the Yankees got way better in the past few days.But baseball didn’t get more interesting. It got way worse.And it could get worse in Ta...
Updated: 16 minutes ago
Warren Sapp accused of harassment; NFL Network suspends three analysts over sexual assault allegations

Warren Sapp accused of harassment; NFL Network suspends three analysts over sexual assault allegations

Warren Sapp, a former Buc and Pro Football Hall of Famer, has been accused of sexual harassment while a working as an analyst with NFL Network, according to a lawsuit.NFL Network has suspended analysts Marshall Faulk, Heath Evans and Ike Taylor "pend...
Updated: 1 hour ago
Rick and Tom podcast: Piling on Bucs head coach Dirk Koetter

Rick and Tom podcast: Piling on Bucs head coach Dirk Koetter

Is there a rift between Jameis Winston and Dirk Koetter as the 4-9 Bucs are eliminated from the playoffs for a 10th straight season?In their latest podcast, Rick Stroud and Tom Jones discuss what impact this has going forward for the Bucs and whether...
Updated: 2 hours ago
Tyre McCants, USF’s brawny bruiser of a receiver

Tyre McCants, USF’s brawny bruiser of a receiver

TAMPA — Having spent 11 games watching Tyre McCants in the flesh — all 236 pounds of it — USF coach Charlie Strong seems convinced his team’s leading receiver down the stretch could be someone’s leading rusher down the road."I think he can do a whole...
Updated: 2 hours ago
MLB ump Dale Scott retires rather than risk more concussions

MLB ump Dale Scott retires rather than risk more concussions

LAKE BUENA VISTA — As a big league umpire, Dale Scott saw maybe 1 million pitches from the field. His final call, it turned out, was the easiest of all. Rather than risk yet another concussion, Scott has decided to retire at 58. "I’m done," he told T...
Updated: 2 hours ago
Explosives? On 40-yard plays, Bucs among NFL’s worst

Explosives? On 40-yard plays, Bucs among NFL’s worst

Bucs coach Dirk Koetter has key statistics that he puts great value in, finding a close correlation between success in those areas and success on the scoreboard. Winning the takeaway battle is always first among those priorities, but he and his staff...
Updated: 11 hours ago
Eagles confirm QB Wentz is done for season

Eagles confirm QB Wentz is done for season

PHILADELPHIA — Carson Wentz got the Eagles this far. Now, it’s up to Nick Foles to deliver Philadelphia its first Super Bowl title. Wentz has a torn left ACL and will miss the rest of the season and playoffs, forcing the NFC East champions to turn to...
Updated: 12 hours ago