Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Blade Runner Oscar Pistorius hits the wall

I have to admit I don’t generally pay much attention to the Olympics. But one of the very few things I do remember from the 2012 Olympics in Britain (other than the Queen parachuting into the stadium with James Bond as part of the opening ceremony) was the story of Oscar Pistorius, a South African double leg amputee who participated in the track and field events. I also remember the controversy about his prosthetic blades possibly given him an advantage in the events in which he participated. After the close of the games, however, he faded from my thoughts.

Until this past weekend.

Since I’m sure most Type M readers have been following the sad news from Pretoria, I won’t rehash much of what the media knows for sure at this point, and the details of the murder of Pistorius’ girlfriend, Reeva Steenkamp, is not really what this post is about. This post is also not about how the lawyers on both sides of the case are jockeying for position as the legal process gears up for yet another “Trial of the Century”.

From what has been related at the bail hearing for Pistorius, it is undisputed that the defendant fired the shots that killed Ms Steenkamp. She was hit three times by the four shots fired through a locked bathroom door. The prosecution states that it was willful murder, following a loud argument heard by neighbours. The defense is equally adamant that it was a tragic accident. Pistorius states in a defense affidavit that he thought there was an intruder cowering behind the locked door of what sounds to be no more than a powder room. (It’s described in news reports as a “small bathroom”.) I imagine there was little place to hide from the gunshots.

From the little that is known for sure, it sounds to me as if Pistorius is guilty as sin and that the defense is grasping at very thin straws. Pistorius’ affadavit maintains he “felt vulnerable” because he did not have on his prosthetic legs when he pumped bullets into the locked bathroom door. He also claims he then realized that his girlfriend was not in his bed.

Here are some questions to which I want answers:
  • Why would he go down that hall without his artificial legs if he “felt vulnerable”?
  • Why would he think that an intruder had locked him/herself in the bathroom and why wouldn’t he just wait there with his handgun for the police to arrive?
  • But upon hearing a possible intruder, wouldn’t anyone’s first response be to tell the person with whom you were sharing your bed?
  • And why wouldn’t you tell that person to call the police while you investigated the sounds you heard?

The answers to these and many other questions will form the basis of the coming trial, and it will be interesting to see how the defense responds. Personally, I don’t see how they can hope to pull this off. From my vantage point (as I’m sure from yours), this looks to be an open and shut case.

But what has me really spellbound is the arrogance of it all.

Didn’t we just see the same sort of thing from Lance Armstrong? Wasn’t the case against him more than overwhelming, too? And yet for years he also adamantly held out that he was not involved in any sort of cheating by using performance-enhancing drugs to win all those bike races. In the end, the evidence became too much to overcome by lying and stonewalling, leaving him no choice but to come clean, although his Oprah “confession” seems to me to have been rather disingenuous and grudging. How can this man live with himself? The only saving grace was that he didn’t kill anyone – although he tried really hard to ruin several people’s lives.

And that’s where my crime writer’s hat gets put on my head.

I doubt if I’m going to write a novel based on Pistorius’ horrendous fall from grace, but I just might take a run at a character of such overwhelming entitlement who cannot bring himself to say, “Look here, I screwed up horribly and ended the life of another human being. I cannot express my sorrow at what I’ve done, but there it is. I’m guilty of murder.”

The psychological make-up of a person like this would be a fascinating centre to a novel, an anti-hero of gigantic proportions if handled correctly. Perhaps Barbara with her professional background would be better suited to best deal with character like this, but I have to admit that the prospect of trying to tell a story based on an examination of someone like this is a very enticing one.

And from here on in, the story of Oscar Pistorius will be firmly in my sights.

Some late-breaking news: I wrote the post above without having access to the prosecution’s information. I should have waited, because if proven true and accurate, Oscar is in even more trouble than I imagined.

According to the prosecution’s affidavit in the bail hearing, Steenkamp was hiding in a closed off toilet area of a larger bathroom. Because it was broken open, the strong inference was that it had been locked by her from the inside. This means that Pistorius fired his gun four times into this confined area. Surely he had to know that at least one of those shots would have nailed someone. It begs the larger question: why had Steenkamp locked the door behind her? This isn’t the behaviour of a lover when spending the night alone with her significant other. Surely she can’t have been that modest if she got up for a wee in the early hours! And he claims he called out to Steenkamp to call the police, since he believed she was still back in the bedroom. She didn’t answer from the toilet area. Wouldn’t that be the expected thing to happen.

Who are this guy and his lawyer kidding? Open and shut from where I sit. He should be a real human being, admit his guilt and take his lumps.

1 comment:

j welling said...

Oscar is amateur hour. I think you're setting the sights low.

There is a story from recent headlines I'd much rather have you cast about and write. I'm not going to proffer unsolicited advice, though. I'm housebroken. Marginally domesticated but definitely housebroken.

Murder in the domicile ? Pathetic. He didn't even dig a rose garden (it is S.A. ... wonderful roses).