Oscar Pistorius Faces 'Premeditated Murder' Charge; Slain Girlfriend Buried in South Africa
The judge presiding over Oscar Pistorius' bail hearing in Pretoria, South Africa, on Tuesday agreed with prosecutors' argument that the track star should be charged with premeditated murder in the shooting death of his girlfriend, Reeva Steenkamp.
Pistorius, 26, now looks at months in jail ahead of a trial, and, if convicted, a life behind bars; a charge of premeditated murder is labeled a "category six" offense, the biggest, under South African law, according to the Los Angeles Times, and so he's got a very slim chance of being released on bail.
But the runner insists he mistakenly shot Steenkamp after thinking she was an intruder. Pistorius, a Paralympic gold medalist and the first-ever double amputee track athlete to compete in the Olympic games, plans to plead not guilty at trial. "It's not even murder," said his attorney, Barry Roux.
Prosecutor Gerrie Nel countered that there was no evidence to back up Pistorius' story and that misjudging Steenkamp as an intruder would still lead to the same charge since he fired at her through the door of a small bathroom, where she allegedly locked herself following argument with the runner. Nel alleged that Pistorius' motive was to kill the 29-year-old model, the LA Times reports, quoting the lawyer as saying: "She couldn't go anywhere. You can run nowhere. It must have been horrific."
Pistorius cried during Tuesday's hearing; in court last Friday, he sobbed while attorneys debated over whether his case should be televised. There are no juries in the South African's judge-focused legal system.
Meanwhile, the family of Steenkamp held a private funeral for the law school grad, whose appearance in the reality show Tropika Island of Treasure aired on South African TV on Saturday; two days earlier, on Valentine's Day, her body was found at Pistorius' Pretoria home, shocking fans of Pistorius and making headlines around the world.
"There’s a space missing inside all the people that she knew," said Steenkamp's brother, Adam Steenkamp, after the church service in the city of Port Elizabeth, according to NBC News.
"Everyone is sad understandably, but at certain points we were smiling whilst remembering Reeva because we only have good memories of her," he noted.