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Hullabaloo


Wednesday, April 09, 2014

 
It matters little whether Oscar Pistorius is telling the truth or not. He's guilty of murder, anyway

Paranoid gun nut and Olympic athlete Oscar Pistorius took the stand in his murder trial yesterday. For those who haven't been following the story, Pistorius shot and killed his girlfriend who was behind a closed door. The prosecution claims there were arguments between the couple that night and that Pistorius killed her in cold blood knowing who was behind the door. Pistorius says he thought he was defending his home from an intruder:

The chief prosecutor in Oscar Pistorius' murder trial demanded Wednesday that he openly say he killed his girlfriend, sharply challenging the double-amputee runner when he said he made a "mistake" and setting the stage for a rigorous cross-examination.

Prosecutor Gerrie Nel asked the court for permission to show a video of the celebrated Olympic athlete allegedly firing a gun at a range and referring to its deadly power as a "zombie stopper." Defense lawyer Barry Roux objected to the gun video being shown, saying it was inadmissible character evidence and amounted to a legal "ambush" of the defense. Judge Thokozile Masipa allowed the video to be shown.

Pistorius, 27, has said he shot model Reeva Steenkamp by accident on Feb. 14, 2013, mistaking her for an intruder. The prosecution alleges he killed her by firing through a closed toilet stall door after an argument. The runner faces a possible prison term of 25 years to life if convicted of premeditated murder.

Nel tried to dismantle the sympathetic image of Pistorius that the defense had sought to build up in three days of testimony. He opened by asking the athlete to explicitly acknowledge that he had killed Steenkamp.

"I made a mistake," Pistorius said.

"What was your mistake?" Nel shot back.

Pistorius then said he "took Reeva's life."

"You killed her," Nel said. "You shot and killed her," and he asked Pistorius to say it. Pistorius would not, saying merely: "I did."

Nel then tried to drive a wedge between the rosy former image of Pistorius and the ideals the runner has said he aspires to, and the prosecution depiction of the runner as a hothead with a gun obsession.
Pistorius is likely lying. But the reality here is that, no matter what the law says, Pistorius is guilty of murder regardless. The newspapers are filled with stories of mistaken identity killings as paranoid spouses and parents kill their partners and their children by "mistake" as they come home secretly or unexpectedly. Cases also abound of inebriated people being shot when they mistakenly come home to the door of the neighbor's house instead of their own. Still others have been gunned down simply for seeking assistance from a local homeowner after a car accident.

The law needs to come to the same point with guns that it does with drunken driving. If you kill someone while driving under the influence, you are guilty of murder because you made a needless, reckless decision that resulted in loss of life.

The number of home invasions that occur while the resident is present and that cannot be cut short by simply making noise and scaring off the burglar is very small. Meanwhile, most of the time that something goes bump in the night, it's either a non-human event or someone innocuous. Simply bringing a gun into the situation is almost always a bad idea.

Firing at an unknown person in the dark or behind a closed door is reckless, extremely dangerous stupidity far worse morally than driving under the influence. Pistorius is guilty of murder regardless of whether he's telling the truth.


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