The News Courier in Athens, Alabama

Sports

February 15, 2013

Weeping Pistorius faces life in prison in shooting

(Continued)

His love life, the fodder of gossip columns in the country, also saw turmoil. In November, Pistorius was involved in an altercation over a woman with a local coal mining millionaire, South African media reported.

Gianni Merlo, who co-authored the 2009 biography "Blade Runner" with Pistorius, told The Associated Press in a phone interview Friday from Italy that Pistorius once drove out in the middle of the night to see his first love after a fight. Pistorius crashed his car when he fell asleep behind the wheel, though Merlo said it showed his devotion.

However, he said Pistorius once threw a friend's girlfriend out of his house, prompting police to investigate and take him in for questioning.

"He explained that this was a kind of (plot) against him, planned against him," Merlo said.

At the defense's request, the chief magistrate delayed Pistorius' bail hearing until Tuesday and Wednesday. Prosecutors and defense lawyers agreed to keep Pistorius in a police holding cell, rather than transfer him to prison like most normal suspects. While Nasir acknowledged that could give them impression that the athlete was getting "preferential treatment," he agreed to it. Police have said they oppose Pistorius being freed on bail.

In saying they'll seek a premeditated murder charge against Pistorius, prosecutors likely are claiming they have evidence that the athlete planned the killing ahead of time, said William Booth, a prominent defense lawyer from Cape Town. The charge, which carries a sentence of life in prison, also makes it more difficult for Pistorius to successfully apply for bail, Booth said, though it could be a challenge to get a conviction.

"It's quite difficult to prove that in a situation where there isn't a witness," the defense lawyer said. "If I just plan it in my mind and I arrive at somebody's house and there's no witnesses and I shoot the person, it's really tough for the prosecution to show that planning."

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