Family of slain girlfriend seeks answers, Pistorius to face bail hearing
The family of Reeva Steenkamp, the South African model shot on Valentine's Day, is asking why she died. South African Olympian and double-amputee Oscar Pistorius, who is accused of murdering Steenkamp, his girlfriend, will face a bail hearing on Tuesday.
Johannesburg — The family of Oscar Pistorius' slain girlfriend wants answers, her mother told a Johannesburg newspaper as the country waited to hear for the first time why prosecutors believe the iconic athlete murdered Reeva Steenkamp by shooting her multiple times on Valentine's Day morning.
June Steenkamp, Reeva Steenkamp's mother, told the Times in a front page interview: "Why? Why my little girl? Why did this happen? Why did he do this?"
"Just like that she is gone," the paper quoted her as saying in what it described as an emotional telephone interview. "In the blink of an eye and a single breath, the most beautiful person who ever lived is no longer here."
Pistorius, who remains in custody in a red-brick, one-story police station in Pretoria, is set to return to court Tuesday for the start of his bail hearing. That hearing will be the first opportunity for the prosecution to describe evidence police gathered against the 26-year-old double-amputee runner and the reasons why he was charged with murder.
Pistorius' family denies he committed murder though has not addressed whether he shot her. When word first emerged about the killing there was speculation in the local media that Steenkamp had been mistaken for an intruder in Pistorius' home.
Steenkamp's funeral will also be held Tuesday in her hometown of Port Elizabeth on South Africa's southern coast, her family said. It would be a private ceremony at a local crematorium, closed to the public and media.
Steenkamp, a blonde model, law graduate and reality TV contestant, died last week of multiple gunshot wounds inside Pistorius' upscale house in a gated community in the eastern suburbs of the capital, Pretoria.
Police said they arrived in the predawn hours of Thursday to find paramedics trying to revive Steenkamp. Police said she had been shot four times. A 9 mm pistol was recovered from the scene and Pistorius was arrested and charged with murder the same day.
"All we have is this horrendous death to deal with ... to get to grips with. All we want are answers ... answers as to why this had to happen, why our beautiful daughter had to die like this," June Steenkamp said in the Times.
Prosecutors said in Pistorius' first court appearance Friday that they would pursue a more serious pre-mediated murder charge against the Olympian and world's most high-profile disabled athlete.
In a statement initially given only to The Associated Press and two South African reporters over the weekend, Arnold Pistorius, Oscar's uncle, said the prosecution's own case would show there was no murder.
"We have no doubt there is no substance to the allegation," Pistorius' uncle said, "and that the state's own case, including its own forensic evidence, strongly refutes any possibility of a premeditated murder or indeed any murder at all."
The bail hearing, scheduled for Tuesday and Wednesday, will be the first time both the prosecutors and defense will show their hands about the evidence involved in the killing, said Stephen Tuson, an adjunct law professor at the University of the Witwatersrand in Johannesburg.
"There will kind of be a little trial within a trial," Tuson said.
Due to the gravity of the charges, Pistorius' defense lawyers will present their case first, trying to argue that their client is not a danger to the public and won't try to flee to avoid trial, Tuson said. They'll also have to show that he won't try to intimidate witnesses, nor pose a risk of sparking public unrest, the professor said.
The defense does have the opportunity to put Pistorius — who broke down and wept in his first appearance in court — on the stand to offer testimony on his own behalf. That likely won't happen, as prosecutors would then be allowed to ask him potentially incriminating questions, Tuson said.
Typically, defense lawyers read a prepared statement in court instead.
From there, prosecutors will offer their own version of events, likely bolstered by testimony from the lead investigator in the killing, Tuson said.
Pistorius has been in custody in Brooklyn police station in Pretoria.
His agent told the AP that there is no way to predict if he will ever run track again.
"For me it's too early to comment," Peet Van Zyl said. "I think it's still a huge shock and tragedy that took the world by surprise so I can't comment on that one (Pistorius' future career) or give any timeline to that at this point in time."
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