The News Courier in Athens, Alabama

Sports

February 18, 2013

Oscar Pistorius faces bail hearing in murder case

(Continued)

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THE VALENTINE'S DAY KILLING

In the predawn hours of Feb. 14, police officers arrived to Pistorius' home in a gated community in the suburbs of South Africa's capital, Pretoria. There, police say they found paramedics trying to resuscitate Steenkamp, whose body lay in a pool of her own blood. Police say officers found a 9 mm pistol and arrested Pistorius, who they say was the only other person in the home at the time of the shooting. Pistorius later underwent DNA testing and had samples of his blood collected. Investigators also conducted an autopsy on Steenkamp's body, though police declined to give any information about what they found. They have said she was shot multiple times in the attack. Police have not offered a motive for the killing and Pistorius' uncle Arnold later said that "the state's own case, including its own forensic evidence, strongly refutes any possibility of a premeditated murder or murder as such."

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PISTORIUS' PAST

Pistorius has had troubles in the past in his personal life. In February 2009, he crashed a speedboat on South Africa's Vaal River, breaking his nose, jaw and several ribs and damaging an eye socket. He required some 180 stitches to his face. Witnesses said he had been drinking, and officers found alcoholic beverages in the wreckage, though they did not do blood tests. In November, Pistorius was involved in an altercation over a woman with a local coal mining millionaire, South African media reported. The South African Police Service's elite Hawks investigative unit became involved before the two settled the matter. Pistorius had a fondness for guns and once tweeted about him searching his house once with a pistol, looking for an intruder.

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THE BAIL HEARING

The bail hearing Tuesday and Wednesday in Pretoria will see prosecutors offer Chief Magistrate Desmond Nair evidence about the killing to bolster their arguments that Pistorius should be denied bail and held until his trial. That evidence likely will include specific details about the killing and why they believe the athlete killed Steenkamp — things that police have been hesitant so far to release publicly. Pistorius likely will offer a plea in the case, as he didn't in a brief court appearance Friday. Pistorius' lawyers will likely try to show that he is not a flight risk and represents no danger to the community if he's free until trial. Prosecutors have said they'll pursue a premeditated murder charge against Pistorius, which could make it more difficult for him to be granted bail. Nair will hear both the prosecution and the defense, then issue a ruling about whether Pistorius will be allowed bail. That could include Nair asking Pistorius to put up cash for his release, as well as the athlete giving up his passport and setting other restrictions. If Pistorius is held without bail until trial, he will be transferred from the local police station he's currently being held in to prison, likely in Pretoria.

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