- Associated Press - Friday, August 8, 2014

PRETORIA, South Africa (AP) - Was Oscar Pistorius in a rage during a fight and intent on killing his girlfriend, or terrified of an attack by an intruder and startled by a noise?

Prosecution and defense lawyers have presented contrasting reasons for Pistorius firing the shots that killed Reeva Steenkamp on Valentine’s Day last year. After both sides completed their final arguments Friday, Judge Thokozile Masipa announced she would present her verdict on Sept. 11.

A look at the arguments she must consider:



Prosecutors charge that Pistorius knew Steenkamp was in a toilet cubicle and while arguing with her, he got his gun and fired four times through the door. The prosecution says that makes the star athlete guilty of premeditated murder.

Pistorius’ chief defense lawyer, Barry Roux, argues that a highly anxious Pistorius thought it was an intruder and fired after being startled. Pistorius’ “reflexive” action came after years of living in fear of being attacked, and not being able to escape because of his disability, his defense said.



The defense says Pistorius shot Steenkamp at about 3:12 a.m. Prosecutors differ. Pistorius fired the fatal shots later, they allege, around 3:17 a.m. The five minutes’ difference is critical because that is the time when witnesses say they heard screaming.

If the judge accepts the defense timeline that the screaming happened after Steenkamp was shot, it helps the defense’s argument that Pistorius was screaming in a high voice for help. If prosecutors have convinced the judge that the screaming came before or during the shots, it suggests the couple were fighting and supports prosecutors’ allegation of murder.



The combined final arguments of the prosecution and defense amount to 352 pages and the evidence entered in court in the 41 days of trial proceedings runs to thousands of pages of record.

Chief prosecutor Gerrie Nel points out that Steenkamp was fully clothed when she was shot, and was standing upright and close to the door. He argues this is not the position of someone who was listening to Pistorius scream at an apparent intruder. The grouping of the shots was close together, Nel says, showing measured shooting by Pistorius and not “wild” firing by a terrified man.

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