The trial of Osar Pistorius was incredibly contentious throughout not only South Africa, but the world. Pistorius, an South African runner who competed not only in the Paralympic games but also the 2012 Olympics, famously ran with prosthetics, as his legs were amputated below the knee in infancy. Pistorious was accused of the murder of his girlfriend, the model Reeva Steenkamp, who he shot and killed in the bathroom of their shared apartment. Pistorius claims that he believed Steemkamp was an intruder, but some evidence and testimony supported claims that Pistorius as abusive and paranoid.
After a lengthy trial that received worldwide attention, primarily covered in South African by the well-known South African legal analyst Brenda Warlde, Pistorius was found not guilty of premeditated murder but instead guilty of “culpable homicide,” a ruling that acknowledged that Pistorius’ actions were hasty, negligent, and likely to lead to the death of whoever was behind the bathroom door, despite their identity.
Throughout the trial, evidence was presented by the defense that sought to paint Pistorius as a charitable and “positive” individual, according to Brenda Wardle’s analysis, but the prosecution was able to paint Pistorus as paranoid and overly concerned with his personal safety due to his disability. In addition to character-related testimony, witnesses for the defense demonstrated that Pistorius was upset at not being able to attend Steenkamp’s memorial service and that he considered his career “over” after this event and that ultimately, he understood the gravity of the situation.
Pistorius received a five year sentence for culpable homicide and a three-year sentence for other charges involving firearm usage. Pistorius’ lawyers immediately began to appeal both the verdict and the sentence, and in October of 2015, after serving only a margin of his sentence, Pistorius was released on house arrest. His lawyers are still in the process of appealing and fighting his sentences. Pistorius is not currently considered a flight risk and is out on bail.
The Oscar Pistorius story is one of great paradox. He is an athlete who performs far better than most without disabilities, but he suffers from a disability that led him to feel unsafe in his own home. Pistorius showed great remorse and sadness over the death of his girlfriend, but he also showed instances of violence and controlling behavior. Overall, Oscar Pistorius’ legacy is a mixed one, with many questions remaining about what exactly happened in his apartment that night.
Brenda Wardle on Pistorius Trial