STEPHANE DE SAKUTIN/AFP/Getty Images
STEPHANE DE SAKUTIN/AFP/Getty Images
At a bail hearing Tuesday in Pretoria, Judge Desmond Nair ruled that the track star known as Blade Runner should be charged with premeditated murder, a schedule six offense suggesting Pistorius planned the killing of the model at his home last Thursday.
Per The Guardian, Nair's decision means the Olympian and Paralympian would have to show "exceptional circumstances" in order to be released from jail on bond. The classification also makes it very unlikely he'll be granted bail.
Pistorius faces a possible life sentence if convicted of premeditated murder. Appearing in court packed with journalists and family members there to support him, the disabled sprinter burst into tears every time Reeva's name was mentioned. Meanwhile, Pistorius' legal team offered for the first time his take on what happened that prompted him to shoot Steenkamp through the bathroom door, a fact both the defense and prosecutors agreed on.
"This was not even murder," defense attorney Barry Roux told the court in proceedings that had to be halted on several occasions due to a bawling Pistorius breaking down and hyperventilating.
According to an affidavit read by the athlete's lawyer, Pistorius denied murdering the reality star and recounted the previous evening. He said that on the night of Feb. 13, he and Steenkamp spent the evening at home in his bedroom. He watched TV with his prosthetic legs off while she did yoga. She also bought him a Valentine's Day present, and the statement said the two were "deeply in love."
Later that night, Roux said Pistorius awoke from his sleep after hearing noises coming from the bathroom down the hall and felt a "sense of terror" given that he had received death threats in the past.
Believing an intruder had climbed in through the bathroom window and not having his prostheses on, he hobbled over on his stumps, grabbed his 9mm pistol under his bed, and shot through the bathroom door. Only then did he realize that Reeva was not in the bed with him.
Roux said that Oscar subsequently bashed in the bathroom door with a cricket bat, discovered the blond beauty still alive and slumped over in a pool of her own blood, then called paramedics and carried her downstairs to the living room. Sadly, despite his best efforts to revive her, it was too late and she died in his arms.
The attorney told the court he would offer up as examples a slew of cases where husbands shot their wives through doors, thinking they were burglars.
And according to Pistorius' statement, he was "mortified" at having killed Steenkamp and could not stand the pain he had caused.
Lucky Nxumalo/City Press/Gallo Images/Getty Images
The court also heard a statement by a friend of the couple, Samantha Greyvenstein, in which she said, "In my experience Oscar and Reeva had nothing but love for each other" and that she would have married him if he asked her.
Prosecutor Gerrie Nel, however, painted a much darker picture of the relationship, strongly theorizing that the 26-year-old double amputee killed Steenkamp in cold blood, noting there's "no possible explanation to support" the idea that Pistorius mistook her for a burglar.
In arguing for premeditated murder, the prosecutor suggested the world renowned runner got up from bed, put on his prosthetic legs, grabbed his gun and walked 21 feet to the bathroom door, then fired four times, three of the shots fatally striking her. Nel also questioned why a burglar would lock himself in the toilet and hinted that Steenkamp might perhaps have been terrified and hiding there.
Trying to persuade the magistrate that the case should be categorized as a schedule five, which would increase the likelihood Oscar could get out on bail, Roux vehemently disputed the idea that a walk to the bathroom equates premeditation and claimed the shooting was a tragic mistake.
Nair at one point said he would reconsider classifying the case a schedule six offense after hearing all the evidence. The court then adjourned for the day without the judge issuing a ruling on Pistorius' bail status.
The hearing is set to resume Wednesday morning. Until then, Pistorius will remain locked up in a local jail.