Oscar Pistorius Indicted on Murder Charge
PRETORIA, South Africa - Oscar Pistorius was indicted Monday on a charge of murdering his girlfriend, and prosecutors said witnesses heard a woman screaming before the sound of fatal gunshots fired by the double-amputee Olympian in the early hours of Valentine’s Day.
Pistorius, who was in court for the indictment and wept before proceedings began, also will face a charge of illegal possession of ammunition when he goes on trial March 3 in a court in the South African capital, Pretoria.
The much-awaited indictment in the Pretoria Magistrate’s Court yielded new detail about how prosecutors will pursue a case that has gripped the world because of the celebrity status of Pistorius, who overcame his disability to become a global phenomenon. His model girlfriend, Reeva Steenkamp, would have celebrated her 30th birthday on Monday.
Prosecutors said Pistorius shot "with the intention to kill a person," and a prosecution spokesman said after the hearing that it was premeditated murder.
The prosecution also will attempt to show the couple argued before she was killed as part of its case that Pistorius intended to kill Steenkamp.
"Some of the state witnesses heard a woman scream, followed by moments of silence, then heard gunshots and then more screaming," the prosecution said in the 11-page indictment.
The court set March 3-20 as the trial period for Pistorius, who has said he shot Steenkamp by mistake, believing she was an intruder in his upscale home in Pretoria. Prosecutors submitted a list of more than 100 witnesses, including Pistorius’ uncle Arnold, sister Aimee and brother Carl, as well as a number of people who lived in the same gated community where Steenkamp was killed.
If convicted, Pistorius could face a life sentence with a minimum of 25 years in prison before parole. There is no death penalty in South Africa.
Prosecutors said Steenkamp died just after 3 a.m. on Feb. 14 of multiple gunshot wounds, according to the autopsy. The state will attempt to show that the couple could have fought before Pistorius shot four times through a locked toilet cubicle door, hitting Steenkamp three times and killing her.
Pistorius has said he thought Steenkamp was in bed and he shouted at her to call the police, believing there was a dangerous intruder in his bathroom, and that he didn’t know she was in the toilet cubicle.