Defense team closes case in Pistorius murder trial

Tue Jul 8, 2014 7:28am EDT
 
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By Siyabonga Sishi

PRETORIA (Reuters) - Oscar Pistorius' lawyers wrapped up their defense of the Olympic and Paralympic track star on Tuesday, bringing the dramatic murder trial of one of the world's best-known athletes closer to conclusion.

Judge Thokozile Masipa adjourned the court until August 7 to allow the legal teams to prepare closing arguments, due to take a day each. She will then begin her deliberations, extending a trial that has already dragged on over four months.

The case has captivated global audiences and had round-the-clock coverage in Pistorius' native South Africa, making it arguably the most-watched celebrity murder trial since U.S. athlete O.J. Simpson was cleared of murdering his wife and her friend in 1995.

Pistorius, who had his lower legs amputated as a baby, could face life in prison if he is found guilty of murdering his girlfriend Reeva Steenkamp, whom he shot and killed at his luxury Pretoria home on Valentine's Day last year.

The 27-year-old athlete, known as "Blade Runner" because of the carbon-fiber prosthetic legs he uses, says he killed Steenkamp after mistaking her for an intruder hiding in the toilet next to his bedroom.

The state alleges he fired four rounds from a 9 mm pistol in a fit of rage after an argument, killing the 29-year-old law graduate and model as she cowered behind the locked toilet door.

The killing has shattered the image of Pistorius as an embodiment of triumph over adversity for both his Paralympic victories and competition against able-bodied athletes at the 2012 London Olympics.

The track star broke down frequently during the trial, often sobbing and vomiting into a bucket.   Continued...

 
Gerrie Nel, state prosecutor for the trial of Olympic and Paralympic track star Oscar Pistorius, smiles at the end of Pistorius' trial for the murder of his girlfriend Reeva Steenkamp at the North Gauteng High Court in Pretoria July 8, 2014.  REUTERS/Siphiwe Sibeko