Oscar Pistorius, an Olympian who was at one point an icon in South Africa whose lower legs were amputated when he was less than a year old, claims he mistook his model girlfriend Reeva Steenkamp for an intruder when he shot her in a locked bathroom in his home. Prosecutors, however, say the couple had had a shouting match and Steenkamp fled to the bathroom, and locked herself in. Pistorius, 26, allegedly got up from bed and had to put on his prosthetic legs to reach the toilet door. The door was broken open after the shots were fired, prosecutors charge.
Attorneys for Oscar Pistorius, the so-called Blade Runner, are poking headline-grabbing holes in the forensic evidence arrayed against the South African double amputee, but none of it changes facts that show the Olympic sprinter killed his model girlfriend, said former LAPD investigator and author Mark Fuhrman.
The former lead detective in the Pistorius case is facing an attempted murder charge stemming from an on-duty incident, prosecutors may have been too quick to say steroids were found in the Pretoria mansion of the suspect and detectives missed a bullet lodged in the bathroom wall.
“The defense attorneys are doing what defense attorneys everywhere do.”
- Mark Fuhrman, author and former LAPD detective
“So what?” says Fuhrman, who as a detective had a major role in the O.J. Simpson case and then went on to write several books analyzing the evidence in various high-profile murders.
“The defense attorneys are doing what defense attorneys everywhere do,” Fuhrman said. “When you look at the facts, even omitting all the forensic evidence the police have produced, it’s crystal clear.
“Here is what he admits: ‘I shot my girlfriend.’ And he has to admit he fought with her in the past, because the police had been there previously. That’s really all you need to know here.”
Fuhrman dismissed the latest revelation that South African detective Hilton Botha is facing attempted murder charges in connection with a 2011 shooting incident. That case, which involved Botha and two other police officers who allegedly fired at a minibus they were trying to stop, was reopened 10 days before Pistorius’ girlfriend, Reeva Steenkamp was killed, after new evidence surfaced. Botha was taken off the Blade Runner case on Thursday.
“That wasn’t a shock,” Fuhrman said. “Any street cop knows you will be sued or involved in some type of litigation throughout your career. If the detective was compromised in any way, how does that change the actions of the suspect on the night in question?”
Although Botha admitted under questioning that nothing at the crime scene was inconsistent with Pistorius’ explanation, Fuhrman said the evidence is a much better fit with the explanation that prosecutors have offered.
Steenkamp, 29, was in a bathroom when she was shot four times through the door. Defense attorneys have sought to dispel the idea she was hiding from her enraged beau by noting her bladder was empty – suggesting she had gone to the room to use the toilet. Fuhrman scoffed at the explanation.
“I’ve got news for them: When you’re dead, your bowels and bladder relax,” he said.
Pistorius, 26, claims he awoke in the night and heard a noise in the bathroom and assumed it was an intruder, saying he felt a “sense of terror rushing over” him.
“He knew there were two people in the house, he lives there, and she’s over,” Fuhrman said. “He hears something in the bathroom, and he doesn’t think it’s his girlfriend? He has an extensive security system that apparently has not been set off, yet he assumes the person behind the bathroom door is a burglar?”
The defense has also disputed the “pre-meditated” aspect of the murder charge. But Fuhrman noted reports that a bloody cricket bat was found in the house, and Steenkamp had a blunt-force trauma wound to her head. The detective theorized that the pair fought, Pistorius bashed her over the head and she fled to the bathroom. If at that point, he went and got a gun and pursued her, pre-meditation applies.
“Pre-meditation can form in split seconds,” he said.
Botha may have made other errors at the crime scene, including missing a bullet that hit the toilet that was found by the defense's forensic team four days later. He also admitted on the stand that he did not wear protective clothing at the scene, which defense attorneys suggested could have contaminated evidence.
Botha said police found testosterone and needles in a bedroom dresser, but Pistorius’ attorney said it was a herbal remedy. It was not clear when the compound would be tested.
“Whether he was on steroids or not really has nothing to do with his defense, if he claims he thought he was shooting a burglar,” Fuhrman said.
Finally, defense attorneys attacked Botha’s assertion that the trajectory of the bullets showed Pistorius’ 9-mm. handgun was fired downward from a height differs with the suspect’s claim he was not wearing his prosthetics at the time. Once again, Fuhrman said the defense was grasping at straws.
“It doesn’t matter if he was on stumps or stilts,” Fuhrman said. “He already says he fired the shots.”