Oscar Pistorius, South African Olympian and murder suspect, endured a brutal week of blood stained testimony that caused him to vomit and retch several times. However, the Pistorius defense gained some traction Friday, highlighting numerous blunders made by police throughout the murder investigation.
The revelations of shoddy police work were accompanied by another embarrassing fact: An expensive watch owned by Pistorius disappeared from his room during the investigation, when only police were present, and is presumed stolen.
Popularly known as the “Blade Runner,” Oscar Pistorius is a South African runner and double leg amputee who competed in the 2012 Olympics. He is accused of shooting and killing girlfriend and model, Reeva Steenkamp, while she hid behind a locked bathroom door in his house, early Valentine’s morning, 2013. Pistorius claims it was an accident and he mistook Steenkamp for an intruder.
The Los Angeles Times reports that the vanished watch, estimated to be worth $5,000 to $10,000, went missing when only a police forensic team and photographer were present at the crime scene. Oscar’s sister, accompanied by police, had retrieved another watch earlier, along with some clothes for Oscar, but only police remained afterward.
Col. Schoombie Van Rensburg, one of the first investigators on the scene, testified he was “furious” about the watch disappearing. He ordered body searches on all police that were there, had their bags checked, and thoroughly scoured the house but the watch was nowhere to be found.
“We even searched the vehicles of every expert at the scene,” said Van Rensburg, but the case of the missing watch remains unsolved.
Pistorius’ Defense attorney, Barry Roux, pounced on the embarrassing missing watch situation, using it to shed light on a seemingly inept and corrupt police force that also mismanaged key pieces of evidence.
According to CNN, Van Rensburg seemed flustered and confused when Roux pointed out that his version of events contradicted the chronologies of three of his fellow officers.
One statement in particular, made by police Sgt. Ntome Sebetha, left Van Rensburg so baffled that he just stared back at Roux and said, “Amazing.”
Another gaffe described by Van Rensburg, was a police ballistics expert examining Pistorius’ gun with his bare hands. Van Rensburg said he reprimanded the officer, who apologized and then put on the required gloves, but the damage was done. The weapon Oscar Pistorius used to kill Steenkamp had become tainted evidence.
Perhaps the most important piece of evidence to be compromised was the bathroom door that Pestorius had fired into, then smashed through to get to Steenkamp following the shooting. Van Rensberg had the door removed from the house, put into a body bag and stored in his office. The defense contends during this time there were also accidental prints made on the door, then wiped off, and that it’s no longer reliable as evidence.
All this could mean that the South African Olympian will dodge the premeditated murder conviction. But even if this is the case, Oscar Pistorius would still likely face a charge of culpable homicide since his negligence was a primary factor in Steenkamp’s death.
Pistorius also faces over 20 years of additional time should the firearms charges against him result in convictions.
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