February 20, 2013

Police add more confusion to Oscar Pistorius case

The Associated Press

(Continued from page 1)

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Olympic athlete Oscar Pistorius stands inside the court as a police officer looks on during his bail hearing at the magistrate court in Pretoria, South Africa, on Wednesday. A South African judge says defense lawyers will need to offer "exceptional" reasons to convince him to grant bail for Pistorius.

AP

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Testimony began with the prosecutor telling the court that before the shooting, a neighbor heard "nonstop" shouting between 2 a.m. and 3 a.m. at Pistorius' upscale home in a gated community in the capital, Pretoria.

However, Botha later said under cross examination that the witness was in a house 600 yards (550 meters) away, possibly out of earshot. He cut that estimate in half when questioned again by the prosecutor, as confusion reigned for much of his testimony.

At one point, Botha told the court that police found syringes and two boxes of testosterone in Pistorius' bedroom — testimony the prosecution later withdrew, saying it was too early to identify the substance, which was still being tested.

"It is not certain (what it is) until the forensics" are completed, Medupe Simasiku, a spokesman for South Africa's National Prosecution Agency, told The Associated Press. It's not clear if it was "a legal or an illegal medication for now."

The defense also disputed the claim. "It is an herbal remedy," Roux said. "It is not ... a banned substance."

Still, Botha offered potentially damaging details about Pistorius' past, saying the athlete was once involved in an accidental shooting at a restaurant in Johannesburg and asked someone else "to take the rap."

The runner also threatened men on two separate occasions, Botha said, allegedly telling one he'd "break his legs."

The detective said police found two iPhones in Pistorius' bathroom and two BlackBerrys in his bedroom, and none had been used to phone for help. Guards at the gated community did call the athlete, Botha said, and all he said was: "I'm all right," as he wept uncontrollably.

Roux later suggested that a fifth phone, not collected by the police, was used by Pistorius to call for help.

The question now is whether Botha's troubled testimony will be enough to convince Chief Magistrate Desmond Nair to keep Pistorius in prison until trial. While Pistorius faces the harshest bail requirements under South African law, the magistrate has said he would consider loosening them based on testimony in the hearing. Final arguments were scheduled for Thursday.

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