Judge Thokozile Masipa adjourned the court until August 7 to
allow the legal teams to prepare closing arguments, due to take a
day each. She will then begin her deliberations, extending a trial
that has already dragged on over four months.
The case has captivated global audiences and had round-the-clock
coverage in Pistorius' native South Africa, making it arguably the
most-watched celebrity murder trial since U.S. athlete O.J. Simpson
was cleared of murdering his wife and her friend in 1995.
Pistorius, who had his lower legs amputated as a baby, could face
life in prison if he is found guilty of murdering his girlfriend
Reeva Steenkamp, whom he shot and killed at his luxury Pretoria home
on Valentine's Day last year.
The 27-year-old athlete, known as "Blade Runner" because of the
carbon-fiber prosthetic legs he uses, says he killed Steenkamp after
mistaking her for an intruder hiding in the toilet next to his
The state alleges he fired four rounds from a 9 mm pistol in a fit
of rage after an argument, killing the 29-year-old law graduate and
model as she cowered behind the locked toilet door.
The killing has shattered the image of Pistorius as an embodiment of
triumph over adversity for both his Paralympic victories and
competition against able-bodied athletes at the 2012 London
The track star broke down frequently during the trial, often sobbing
and vomiting into a bucket.
The emotional displays were in marked contrast to his composed and
confident demeanor as he re-enacted the shooting in a leaked video
aired on Australian television on Sunday. [ID:nL6N0PI0R8]
After the broadcast of the film, which Pistorius' lawyers said was
for trial preparation only and had been "obtained illegally" by
Australia's Channel 7, Masipa banned any airing or publication of
the closing arguments before they are read in court.
There is no jury, and so the verdict hinges on whether Masipa
believes Pistorius' version of events. She was only the second black
woman to be appointed a high court judge and has a reputation for
handing down stiff sentences in crimes against women.
[to top of second column]
At the bail hearing over a year ago, magistrate Desmond Nair pointed
to what he said were a number of "improbabilities" in Pistorius'
"I have difficulty in appreciating why the accused would not seek to
ascertain who exactly was in the toilet," Nair said at the time. "I
also have difficulty in appreciating why the deceased would not have
screamed back from the toilet."
The prosecution has attempted to portray Pistorius as self-cent red,
hot-tempered and obsessed with guns. Alongside the murder charge, he
is also accused of three gun-related offences, all of which he has
At one point during the trial, Prosecutor Gerrie Nel, whose
reputation as one of South Africa's toughest attorneys has earned
him the nickname "The Pitbull", told Pistorius: "You will blame
anybody but yourself."
The defense has argued that Pistorius had an elevated sense of
vulnerability due to his disability, compounded by fear of attack in
crime-ridden South Africa.
It has also portrayed the relationship between Pistorius and
Steenkamp as a loving one, arguing the athlete has been devastated
by the loss of his girlfriend.
(Reporting by David Dolan; Editing by Ed Cropley and Andrew Roche)
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