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Oscar Pistorius murder case: Final witness gives evidence in sentencing submissions to the court

OSCAR Pistorius has wobbled and walked on his stumps in a South African courtroom as part of his defence team’s argument that the double-amputee athlete, convicted of murdering girlfriend Reeva Steenkamp, is a vulnerable man who deserves leniency when he is sentenced.

Defense lawyer Barry Roux asked Pistorius to remove his prostheses, and the former track star then hobbled in front of Judge Thokozile Masipa, who will deliver the sentence after hearings end this week.

Pistorius was on his stumps when he fatally shot Steenkamp through a toilet cubicle door in his home 2013; he testified at his murder trial that he felt vulnerable and thought an intruder was in the house. Prosecutors have said Pistorius intentionally killed Steenkamp after an argument.

The disgraced athlete broke down in tears in the courtroom as the sentencing hearing took place.

Earlier, Reeva Steenkamp’s cousin Kim Martin told of how her life will never be the same again at the hearing.
Oscar Pistorius murder case: Final witness gives evidence in sentencing submissions to the court
Martin criticised Pistorius for not testifying at the sentencing hearing but agreeing to an ITV television interview that will be broadcast after the hearing ends this week.

“I think it’s very unfair to want to talk to the world about your version when you had the opportunity in court to do so,” Martin said under questioning from chief prosecutor Gerrie Nel.

In her evidence, Martin said she and her family are struggling to cope with Steenkamp’s death and that every Valentine’s Day - the day when Steenkamp was fatally shot - is the “worst day for us”. Martin said her family lights a candle for Steenkamp, a model, at Christmas and that they try to celebrate such special days despite the grief.
“We don’t want every occasion to become a funeral,” she said.

Martin also questioned Pistorius’ statement that he killed Steenkamp by mistake when he fired shots through the door of a toilet cubicle in his home, thinking an intruder was in the house.

“I don’t feel the true version came out,” Martin said.

Martin told the court of how their lives were changed forever after Reeva was found dead.

“All we ever wanted was the truth. Oscar’s version changed so many times,” she said.

“I don’t feel there was an apology from him or the true version came out. We just wanted the truth.”
Reeva Steenkamp's cousin Kim Martin looks on after testifying during Oscar Pistorius' hearing for a resentence at Pretoria High Court. Picture: Getty Source:Getty Images
She said they always put out a candle for Reeva at Christmas.

She also also told of how her uncle (Reeva’s father Barry) is a “broken man”.

“…he has guilt as a father, not being able to protect his daughter”.

when asked if she thought Reeva was happy with Pistorius, she said: “I did not see any love. There was a fondness...”.

“I don’t think Reeva loved him, I think she had a soft spot for him.”

Roux set out his concluding arguments at the High Court in Pretoria, denying that the 29-year-old had deliberately killed Steenkamp.

“It is a man on his stumps, at three o’clock in the morning, who did not want to kill his girlfriend (and) believed that at the time she was in the bedroom. Do you send that person to 15 years in jail?” Roux said.

“Who else other than an intruder would have entered at three o’clock?” The double-amputee champion sprinter killed Steenkamp in the early hours of Valentine’s Day in 2013, claiming he mistook her for a burglar when he fired four times through the door of his bedroom toilet.

In March, the Supreme Court of Appeal found Pistorius guilty of murder -- irrespective of who was behind the door when he opened fire with a pistol he kept under his bed.
Oscar Pistorius appears in the High Court in Pretoria, South Africa, today. Picture: APSource:AP
The standard jail term for murder in South Africa is 15 years, but Pistorius’s sentence may be reduced due to the year he has already spent in prison and mitigating factors, including his disability.

Roux urged judge Thokozile Masipa to “entertain the correct facts and not to be drowned by the many perceptions” whirling around the case that attracted years of intense public scrutiny.

“The accused has lost everything. He can never ever resume his career,” Roux said.

“He lost his future... he has paid physically, he is the shadow of the man he was. He is a broken man, he has paid financially, he has paid socially. He is paying constantly.” Pistorius held his head in his hands and sobbed as the hearing, which opened on Monday, relived both the killing and his dramatic trial in 2014.

Yesterday, Reeva’s father Barry Steenkamp spoke at the sentencing hearing for Pistorius.
Reeva Steenkamp's father Barry Steenkamp, leaves the High Court in Pretoria, South Africa. Picture: APSource:AP
Steenkamp gave testimony about the wrenching, personal grief of a distraught father who lost a daughter in a fatal shooting.

“She must have been in so much fear, pain,” Steenkamp said, his hands shaking at times. “That is what I think of all the time.” Under questioning from chief prosecutor Gerrie Nel, Steenkamp urged Judge Masipa to allow the public to see the graphic photos of his daughter’s wounds that were entered as evidence during Pistorius’ trial but not allowed to be shown to a wider audience. Perhaps, Steenkamp said, people who are “thinking of that type of deed” will hesitate before committing such a violent act if they see the photos.

He said the death of Reeva Steenkamp, a model who was shot multiple times through a toilet cubicle door, contributed to his heart and other health problems and that his wife June grieves just as much as he does despite what he called her “stone-faced” demeanour in public.

“I hear her at night,” he said. “I hear her crying. I hear her talking to Reeva.” He said of his daughter’s death: “It devastated us.” Sitting in the courtroom, Pistorius looked downward as Steenkamp testified. Afterwards, during an adjournment, he sat hunched forward, apparently emotional, as his siblings, Carl and Aimee, sought to comfort him.

Earlier, a pastor and a woman whose son was born without legs testified for Pistorius’ defence.
Pastor Marius Nel said he had been in contact with schools that want the double-amputee Olympian to help disadvantaged children with sports training. The pastor also said he had visited Pistorius after he was jailed for the earlier manslaughter conviction and found him to be a “broken” man.

The testimony reflects an argument by Roux that Pistorius should not go to jail because he can make a valuable contribution to society and would face increasing mental deterioration if he returns to prison.

Another witness, Ebba Gudny Gudmundsdottir of Iceland, testified that Pistorius was kind to her disabled son and gave him a gold medal that he won at a race.

“We still have that medal,” Gudmundsdottir said. “It was a very lovely gesture.”

The hearing is scheduled to run through Friday this week.
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