Blade Runner Trial – Oscar Pistorius Murder Trial Began Today

I have not followed all the nuances around this event.  However, when saw the floor plan for the first time, and contrast it against the story he was telling, his version of events just doesn’t pass the sniff test.    What are your thoughts?

(Reuters) – The first witness at Oscar Pistorius’ murder trial told the court on Monday she heard “bloodcurdling screams” from a woman followed by shots, a dramatic opening to a case that could see one of global sport’s most admired role models jailed for life.

pistorius 1pistorius 2

Taking the stand after the Paralympic and Olympic star pleaded not guilty to murdering his girlfriend, model Reeva Steenkamp, on Valentine’s Day last year, neighbor Michelle Burger testified that she was woken in the middle of the night by a woman shouting for help.

“I was still sitting in the bed and I heard her screams,” Burger, who lives 177 meters (194 yards) from Pistorius’ home in an adjacent housing complex, told the Pretoria High Court.

“She screamed terribly and she yelled for help. Then I also heard a man screaming for help. Three times he yelled for help,” she said, speaking in Afrikaans through an interpreter.

Thinking it was a violent break-in – a possibility in crime-ridden South Africa – Burger said her husband called the private security firm guarding their upmarket Pretoria housing estate before the pair heard more shouts.

“I heard the screams again. It was worse. It was more intense,” said Burger, a Pretoria University economics lecturer. “She was very scared,” she added, her voice cracking with emotion.

“Just after her screams, I heard four shots. Four gun-shots,” she said. “Bang … bang, bang, bang.”

“It was very traumatic for me. You could hear that it was bloodcurdling screams.” After the final shot, the screams “started fading“, she added later.

Throughout Burger’s testimony, the 27-year-old Pistorius – described by Time magazine in 2012 as “the definition of global inspiration” and named as one of the world’s 100 most influential people – sat impassively in the courtroom, staring at the floor.  (read more)

pistorius floorplan

pistorius floorplan 2

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84 Responses to Blade Runner Trial – Oscar Pistorius Murder Trial Began Today

  1. jello333 says:

    I haven’t followed this at all, but this caught my eye: The ear witness was 194 yards away. Umm… were the screams supposed to have come from INSIDE the apartment? I mean, I guess it matters if the doors and windows were open or closed, but still…. quite a distance to be hearing such specifics as she described. I’m thinking of the murders at the Tate/Polanski house… people along the canyon heard screams, but nothing very specific (even though they were coming from outside).

    Like

    • peachteachr says:

      He did claim early on that it was a hot night and the sliding doors were open for the breeze.

      Like

    • rashomon says:

      194 yards is 582 feet. I live in an urban neighborhood where the average lot is 25 feet wide, thus if I’m sitting in my backyard on a steaming night where there is no traffic noise, I would be able to hear screams from 23 backyards away? I don’t think so. From many experiences, five or six backyards over with 20 teens celebrating a birthday is muffled.

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  2. Dr. Bogus Pachysandra says:

    Witness was 200 yards away? Two football fields? Seems a long way. Musta been a quiet night?
    Then again, my Tinnitis is so bad, I couldn’t hear someone screaming 50 feet away.

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  3. LetJusticePrevail" says:

    Oscar PistoLius’ story is soooo believable. I mean, doesn’t every home invader immediately head to the bathroom to relieve themselves before undertaking their real purpose for being there?

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    • justfactsplz says:

      That’s the problem I have had with this case since the beginning. She was hiding in the closed toilet area. That would be a very unlikely place for an invader to be.

      Like

  4. ctdar says:

    Where was he in the apartment when he “heard the noise in the bathroom” ?
    According to the diagram, Pistorius would have had to pass the bed (was she in bed or not?) and than shot through the closed door where whoever was already contained no need to shoot…much less 4 times ? He wanted someone dead.

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    • sundance says:

      He claims to have been in the bed and awakened by a noise in the toilet. He claims he didn’t notice she was NOT in bed when he took his gun and went to the bathroom.

      It’s important to look at the layout of the bathroom. She was locked in the WC – with the commode / separate door. Not just in the bathroom per se’. He fired into the smaller room with the toilet.

      And she had her phone with her in the toilet.

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      • ctdar says:

        How does he wake up to strange sounds and not instinctively reach out to his partner being the protector? I assume as most disabled or amputees he does not sleep in his prosthetics..begs the question how does he have time to strap on his legs and still not notice whether she was in bed ? Sounds like she was locking herself away in the toilet to make an emergency call because she was fearful of him. Wonder what her cell phone will reveal.
        4 bullets = rage.

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        • sundance says:

          Yeah. This trial has the similar makings of the O.J. Simpson defense where they need to drag the conversation down deep into weeds and minutia to obfuscate the obvious.

          If you just stand back and look at the situation as it is *generally* agreed upon, then overlay the physical evidence – this appears to be a serious argument that escalated, became intensely emotional, became intensely aggressive, and eventually led to the guy losing it -snapping- and shooting through the toilet door at her…. maybe a jealous rage, or maybe she was dumping him…. something like that.

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          • ctdar says:

            She probably got the head start when he had to stop & put his limbs on.

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          • clash108 says:

            It is is similar to OJ, and there is a good chance he walks. The original lead detective was a bungling fool, and you will see the defense take advantage of it. On the other hand, it is a judge only trial which (hopefully) leaves out the starstruck aspect of the accused, and hopefully the judge can see thru some of the diversions the defense will no doubt play on that so influenced the OJ jurors. There is a lot of gun violence and crime in South Africa, and that will be an angle I’m sure the defense will play on–the paranoia of the accused.
            I agree that there was a very emotional argument that occurred on an emotional night (Valentine’s Day),

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        • John Galt says:

          “How does he wake up to strange sounds and not instinctively reach out to his partner being the protector? ”

          Maybe he instinctively reached out to protect his phone, upon which he had been surfing porn prior to capping his gf.

          Like

  5. John Galt says:

    She is screaming, so it seems like shooter knows where she is while he is shooting.

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  6. clash108 says:

    I followed this case at the prelim a long while back and thought he was guilty.I mean you just don’t start shooting into a closed bathroom especially when you don’t see your girlfriend who was sleeping right next to you..
    However the lead detective was more incompetent than Inspector Clouseau and made some embarrassing mistakes. They fired him afterwards so I’m not sure who took over.
    The 200 yd deal does sound sketchy, but the balcony window was open. I suppose a sound expert will be brought to the stand for both sides.
    BTW, this a judge trial since South Africa does not have jury trials,

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  7. Coast says:

    If you were an intruder, would you use the master bathroom?

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  8. Rocky Mtn Mama says:

    I’ve always thought

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    • Rocky Mtn Mama says:

      Crap, stupid fingers…

      I’ve always thought his story sounded sketchy, but I haven’t followed the case closely. I am skeptical that he wouldn’t notice that his girlfriend was *not* in the bed beside him. If you were sleeping with a loved one and were woken by what you thought was a burglar, wouldn’t your first instinct be to make sure your loved one was there next to you and OK? Before confronting the burglar?

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  9. auscitizenmom says:

    I would like to keep an open mind, but, like you said, “This doesn’t pass the sniff test.” There is no way I can buy his version of what happened. It simply makes no sense at all to me. He looked guilty when I first heard about it and everything that has come out since just made him seem more guilty.

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    • wildninja says:

      The case needs to be unraveled in court, but so far I’m with you. At the time I typed out my thoughts on this a year ago, http://wildninjablog.com/2013/02/20/weighing-in-on-pistorius/, there was a report that the victim’s skull was crushed– that she’d been beaten with a cricket bat. I don’t know if that’s true, but this whole story screams rage. Yes, South Africa has high crime and home invasions; I’m sure that’s a big part of why Pistorius lived in a gated community. But in addition, the rate of violence against women there is horrific and some point out how it’s a cultural norm. Who’s to say he wasn’t a contributor to that? Perhaps he thought his fame and others’ sympathy would get him off the hook.

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      • jordan2222 says:

        So he watches porn for a while.. goes to sleep.. wakes up and does not notice his wife is missing.. Puts on his legs, gets his gun.. shoots blindly through a wall four times.. secures a bat and beats her…

        I must be missing some huge points.

        What did Apple find on his phone?

        Nice place you have, wildninja . Are you covering this from South Africa?

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        • wildninja says:

          Thank you, and no, I’m in Seattle. I just have a keen interest in domestic violence cases and like others on this forum, this one hasn’t sat right with me since the beginning.

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  10. Abagail says:

    From what I remember reading in the Johannesburg paper, OP was a quite jealous, quick to anger, and controlling person. Reeva had a previous relationship with another professional SA athlete prior to OP, and was still on speaking terms with him. Speculation was that she received a text from him earlier in the evening that was the trigger for OP’s explosive behavior. There was also wounds on her caused by a cricket bat OP kept in the bedroom. She fled to the bathroom water closet and locked the door. I think he was determined to kill her before she called police. There was so much strange behavior and statements he made that night, I don’t know where to start. He is definitely not a nice character. Suffice to say, for me, it adds up to murder.

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  11. clash108 says:

    I;m curious to see the evidence pertaining to the cricket bat. Because if she does have a crushed skull as some papers were reporting, it should be game over for Oscar. However, I don’t know the reliability of the those reports,

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    • rumpole2 says:

      The cricket bat was used to hit the toilet door…. As the OP narrative goes…to force entry into locked toilet, after the shots and after OP realised that Reeva was in there. I have not seen any suggestion that Reeva was attacked with it.
      The defence is suggesting that it would result in loud noises which could perhaps be confused with gun shots.

      Like

      • clash108 says:

        I’m just going off of news reports I read a while back, Again, I don;t know how reliable they are. http://www.theguardian.com/world/2013/feb/17/oscar-pistorius-cricket-bat

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        • rumpole2 says:

          Thanks
          Details like that I have not seen.
          IF bloodied cricket bat and head damage on victim are presented in court… then that is just the sort of thing that would divert me from assuming that OP is innocent.
          I do treat a newspaper claim with scepticism though. 😀

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          • rumpole2 says:

            I would expect that such damning evidence would have been more widely and loudly reported over the past year?

            Like

          • clash108 says:

            I’m skeptical too. For all we know the “crushed” skull may simply been the damage from the bullet that hit her in the head and is just being sensationalized because there was blood on the bat which could of come from the blood on the floor after he broke the door down. We shall know shortly.
            I still think he is guilty because the circumstantial evidence is too strong, but I’ll wait for all the evidence before making a final decision.

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  12. rumpole2 says:

    I am trying to keep an open mind. I have followed the headlines, but not the details.
    Having followed recent cases and seen a “Lynch Mob” type mentality. I see the same Lynch mob on twitter and at “True Gossip Forums” already baying for OP’s blood. They already hate him, hate his lawyer, and love the prosecutor. Already think the Judge should do more to shut down the defence attorney etc. With enemies like those dopes, it’s hard not to be OP’s “friend” in reaction. Besides, I am very aware of “The Golden Thread” that runs through British (US) Justice…. as my namesake Rumpole of The Bailey opines…
    “Innocent until PROVED guilty beyond reason able doubt”.
    Pistorius’s version is IMO plausible. It fits the facts as far as I know… but I await seeing some details. The burden is on the State to prove their hypothesis of what happened, and/or disprove OP’s version.
    As far as today’s ear witness goes. She is being hailed as having given evidence that already convicts OP. She is an intelligent woman (Phd) and now insistent about precisely what she heard, however, it seems to now be more detailed than what she told in initial police interviews. And she admits to having since see news reports, etc and discussed the case… with her husband for one who might also be an ear witness (though hard to see his testimony as now independent of hers). Her description now includes emotive terms such as “blood curdling screams”… a “woman in fear of her life” etc.
    I actually do NOT rate her testimony… because she is so insistent that every detail is correct. I know the “type”. Convince they are right. Stubborn, will never concede anything, Smart enough to rationalise every challenge away.. but its more of an academic exercise.
    Anyway… we have only hear ONE witness… I for one will strive to keep seeing OP as INNOCENT.
    I do see the State hypothesis as plausible too.. so if the evidence is presented to prove it, I will accept it.

    Like

    • rumpole2 says:

      Part of OP’s narrative is that he screamed for help once he realised what he had done.
      Maybe the ear-witness some distance away heard him. We all overlay our own preconceptions on what we see and hear. The witness may well have assumed it was a woman’s voice rather than a high-pitched emotional man’s voice. And having ASSUMED that.. she resolves Cognitive Dissonance by being adamant that it WAS a woman when it is suggested that it might have been a man. She has clearly added things like “blood curdling” She heard 4 shots… and admits knowing from news reports that 4 shots were fired. etc

      Like

      • John Galt says:

        Blade Runner is sleeping with girlfriend. He is awakened by noise in bathroom. Without verifying location of girlfriend or identity of individual in bathroom, he goes to bathroom and fires multiple shots through bathroom door, killing girlfriend.

        Well, I guess if it is legal for cops to machine gun newspaper ladies merely because of their presence in a truck, then this might be a solid defense.

        Like

        • rumpole2 says:

          I don’t have a problem with getting up.. in the dark… not realising g/friend not still in bed where you assume she is.
          I have quite lengthy convos with my wife as she sits in living room watching TV (I think) …only to pop my head around the corner and find she is not there and I have been talking to myself.
          Of course after being married so long it is not much of a change from a convo when she is present 😀

          Like

          • ctdar says:

            If it was you, gun owner or not (tho I hold gun owners at a higher threshold so shooting a loved one is not a scenario) wouldn’t you wake your wife, whisper did you hear that and tell her to hide & call the police while you checked things out, rather than the risk she wakes up not knowing whats going on and stumble into a possibly life threatening situation?

            Like

            • ctdar says:

              ^^ mistakenly shooting a loved one

              Like

            • rumpole2 says:

              Yes I would reach out an arm at least.. for sure.

              It’s not what I would do, but not doing so is believable. I am just playing “Devil’s Advocate” kinda.
              Maybe he heard a noise… “half asleep” even… went towards it to investigate (on his stumps) Only then did he become convince that some bad guy had got in through bathroom window.. and the rest is history as they say.

              Like

              • ctdar says:

                Where has it been mentioned that he thought spiderman broke in through the bathroom window?
                Check the drop height, must be close to 20′, doubt an intruder would come in that way.

                Like

  13. rumpole2 says:

    Help, help… trapped in a spam hole!!!

    Like

  14. radish says:

    The testosterone supplements — bad idea. OP is guilty.

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  15. radish says:

    The man screamed for help because victim grabbed a cricket bat to hit him while he was legless? Sounds can travel through ventilation systems if the building is poorly made and uninsulated. Piping can preserve and carry sound waves.

    Like

  16. rumpole2 says:

    BTW
    If people want to follow the trial LIVE I have several links to live streaming, live “blogs”, twitter feeds at “Random Topics”
    http://randomtopics.org/viewtopic.php?f=105&t=1210&p=70796#p70796
    As always happy to provide the links… you can comment back here or at RT…. I’ll see comments at both places 😀
    I also have a thread where I post YT replays and a thread for any reference documents etc I come across.
    Trial day scheduled start today was 9:00AM local… though that is moved to 9:30 tomorrow
    In my capacity as a Time Lord:
    9:00AM J/Burg —-> 2:00AM ET —-> 1:00AM CT —->12:00AM MT —->11:00PM PT

    Like

  17. rumpole2 says:

    Poke…poke… anybody in US awake?…. trial starting live now.

    Like

    • LetJusticePrevail" says:

      Thanks. Starting to watch now

      Like

    • rashomon says:

      Thanks. I’m still catching up with yesterday, so I’ll count on you to give updates. From yesterday’s testimony, I hold the ear witness leaves much to be believed. The media, as in the USA, crafts their own message to capture viewers/readers, so their input should be taken for what it’s worth. What do you know about the judges in SA? Political?

      Like

  18. LetJusticePrevail" says:

    Listening to these proceedings reveals vast differences between the justice systems in the US and SA

    Like

    • rumpole2 says:

      Yes… I see a few pluses and a few minuses.

      I WISH this judge would tell the damned witness to answer the question.. rather than guess what Roux is wanting as an answer and avoid giving that answer at all costs.
      We have wasted hours trying to get her to actually answer what is obvious. She started from a position of thinking OP was lying… she has embellished her testimony to fit her own guess at at what happened. She is claiming to her detail that is not possible etc.
      She should be a very minor witness… just state what she claims she heard… she is surmising stuff like “the woman was in fear for her life” etc… that is what SHE imagines and NOT what she heard or can possibly testify to.

      Like

  19. ctdar says:

    I just saw a news blurb, that main witness had her image widely shown on the media. Total invasion of privacy and form of intimidation or WHAT?

    Like

  20. treewig says:

    There are no eye witnesses. The first two witnesses are establishing that they heard screaming before shots were fired, then after. I am not sure they could possible tell what the screaming was, or even to be able to determine for certain that the screams were coming from the OP residence.

    To me, the entire case comes down to OP being able to explain why he did what he did that evening (he’s got to testify to explain why he used his gun, right?). YOu think there is an intruder and you are scared, I can understand that. You have time to put on your prosthetic legs and grab a gun but not to see if your GF is awake or to warn her? I can totally understand grabbing a weapon/gun for protection and even going to check it out, thinking maybe the sounds you heard were in your mind, but how do you not check to see that your GF is out of harms way or to warn her?

    I don’t know what specific charges have been brought, but it seems that, at the minimum, he’s guilty of manslaughter and the trial would be to determine whether he’s guilty of something more severe.

    Like

    • treewig says:

      One correction to previous post. OP says he didn’t put his prosthetic legs on until after he shot 4 times into the door of the toilet. The prosecutor suggests that evidence will show that the shots were fired at an angle that would indicate he was wearing his prosthesis.

      Like

      • radish says:

        My question would also be how many people lock themselves into the toilet cubicle at night to do business. It was a small cubicle. Why did she lock herself in there, and why were there two cell phones in the main bathroom. Did she drop it, or he knocked it out of her hands before she escaped to the toilet? The motive for the killing may be that she dared try to call someone for help. He likely tried to unsuccessfully break the door down with the bat. Went back to get his prosthetic leg and unlock the gun safe. It depends on the time between the shrieks which the ear witness claims she heard.

        Like

    • radish says:

      If it was so dangerous that OP had to shoot at an intruder with a gun, then he obviously should have been calling, or shouting at girlfriend to call for help. There was never a call put to police, after the shooting. An intruder also will escape out the front door not into the master bedroom and then into a bathroom although maybe OP wouldn’t know that, but there was no reason for life threatening reason for him to be shooting at the intruder four times when he could just warn in advance that he had a gun. The girl would most likely have screamed to let him know it was her, not an intruder, at which point OP would have stopped had he been innocent. Irregardless of whether the ear witness is accurate or not. He shot 5 times not 4.

      Like

      • jello333 says:

        Agreed, and that needs to be brought up more. I understand that LEGALLY, if he thought the person behind the door was an intruder, he probably had the right to shoot first, ask questions later. And if he truly was in fear, it’s hard to argue. But from the little I’ve heard, seems like fear was not the motive behind any of this. Again, let’s assume he DID think it was an intruder, rather than his girlfriend. Seems to me that his thought process was, “Oh goody, you picked the wrong house to come into. I’ve always wanted to blow away someone”… and then blast away, likely with a big old grin on his face. I totally support people defending themselves, especially in their own house. But to be morally (as well as legally) on the right side of things, if you’re gonna blow someone away it had better be out of fear or some pretty certain belief that you don’t have much choice. If, instead, you’re like, “How cool! I get to kill this sucker and nobody will even question me!”… well…. (And no I DON’T know for a fact this is that type a guy. I’m just saying IF…)

        Like

  21. radish says:

    The ear witness’ proof that she heard a commotion is that she had her husband call the private security firm guarding their upmarket Pretoria housing when she herself thought it was a break in. There should be a record of what said to the security firm regarding screams and shots. A shot when it strikes through solid matter can reverberate through a complex. One does not know exactly what truly got the ear witness’ attention at first. But once she heard something, she would have gone to check it out and opened a window to hear better. I would not discount her witness yet. It needs to be checked out against other witnesses and circumstances if available.

    Like

  22. rumpole2 says:

    As I surmised early on… the witness Michelle burger turned out to be a bit of a BS Burger.
    She clearly colluded with her husband (who also testified) to “synchronise” their narrative of events.
    An example of CLASSIC detection of cheats.. they coincide in WRONG stuff in both statements.
    Also she painted herself into a corner by not being willing to concede ANY point… the version/interpretation she has dug her toes in over is logically impossible in several ways. Roux (defence lawyer) did a great job of making just that point.

    Like

    • rumpole2 says:

      And there is more to come. Roux has indicated that the defence has done tests on sounds from the apartment.. There will be “Expert testimony” on what can and can’t be heard where etc.
      Bear in mind that as in USA it is the prosecution who are going first.. their witnesses only so far. You would expect the case AGAINST OP to be being made at this stage. The Defence do then get to present their case.

      Like

    • rumpole2 says:

      Burger ADAMANTLY denied ANY collusion with her husband over their stories… which never did seem to make sense. To be so adamant about that poit, and shown to be “fibbing” brings all of her testimony into question.

      Like

      • treewig says:

        I would hope she denies collusion as that would mean she set out to purposefully deceive police and the courts. I’m sure she talked with her husband and they imported parts of each others stories in their statements, but I find it hard to believe they’ve decided to deceive the court by making their testimony match. I would think the former could have, and likely did occur, but that wouldn’t mean they colluded or decided to sync their statements for fraudulent purposes.

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