Oscar Pistorius, the South African Paralympian accused of murdering his girlfriend, Reeva Steenkamp on Valentine’s Day of this year, was today (August 19) indicted on charges of murder and illegal possession of ammunition.
The trial is set to begin March 3, 2014, and will be heard in the North Gauteng High Court in Pretoria, South Africa, where a judge will determine Pistorius’ guilt or innocence as South Africa does not have trial by jury.
The six-time Paralympic sprint champion was seen with his head bowed and hands held in prayer with his brother Carl and sister Aimee a short time before the hearing.
The 26-year-old has been formally charged with planned and premeditated murder, which comes with a mandatory sentence of life imprisonment. The indictment reads, “the accused did unlawfully and intentionally kill a person.”
Pistorius has previously admitted to the killing, but denied it was intentional murder, saying he shot Ms. Steenkamp thorough a locked bathroom door because he believed her to be an intruder.
Prosecutors will argue he is guilty of premeditation: “The accused armed himself with his nine-millimetre pistol and through the locked door, fired four shots at the deceased. The deceased was wounded and died on the scene,” the charge sheet states.
The Prosecution also will attempt to prove that the couple argued shortly before she was killed, as part of their case to prove the premeditation. “Some of the state witnesses heard a woman scream, followed by moments of silence, then heard gunshots and then more screaming” the 11 page indictment report reads.
However, in a revelation that could help Pistorius’ case, a leaked ballistics report shows that he did not have his prosthetic legs on when he shot Steenkamp. “I did not have my prosthetic legs on and felt extremely vulnerable,” he said in an affidavit. “I believed that when the intruder or intruders came out of the toilet we would be in grave danger.”
According to a report in the UK’s Sunday Times, a person with inside knowledge in the case says, “The Defence will try to show that his actions were reasonable for a person with a disability.”
Known as “Blade Runner,” Oscar Pistorius was one of the most celebrated athletes of the 2012 Olympics and Paralympics in London, where he made the 400m semi final in the able bodied Olympics and later won gold in the Paralympics for the same distance.