Skip to main content

'Blade runner' hires American forensic experts for murder defense

By Robyn Curnow and Ben Brumfield, CNN
October 2, 2013 -- Updated 1605 GMT (0005 HKT)
A magistrate who granted bail Friday to Oscar Pistorius cited "several errors and concessions" in a police investigator's testimony. Here's a look at four key assertions prosecutors made during the bail hearing -- and how defense attorneys responded. A magistrate who granted bail Friday to Oscar Pistorius cited "several errors and concessions" in a police investigator's testimony. Here's a look at four key assertions prosecutors made during the bail hearing -- and how defense attorneys responded.
HIDE CAPTION
Setbacks for Pistorius prosecution
Setbacks for Pistorius prosecution
Setbacks for Pistorius prosecution
Setbacks for Pistorius prosecution
Setbacks for Pistorius prosecution
<<
<
1
2
3
4
5
>
>>
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • Olympic runner Oscar Pistorius wants the specialists to challenge evidence against him
  • He is accused of murdering his girlfriend, model Reeva Steenkamp, on Valentine's Day
  • He has received the nicknamed "Blade runner" for the prosthetic legs he sprints on

Johannesburg (CNN) -- With his murder trial approaching this March, South African Olympic runner Oscar Pistorius has hired some help from the United States to challenge the case against him.

An American forensic team will give expert testimony to cast doubt on evidence entered against the athlete nicknamed the "Blade Runner" for the special prosthesis legs he sprints with, his spokeswoman Anneliese Burgess said Wednesday.

The track star, whose legs are amputated below the knees, admitted to shooting dead model Reeva Steenkamp, in his home on Valetine's Day. But he has said it was an accident.

Pistorius charged with premeditated murder in Steenkamp death

She was 29 when she died.

The state has indicted him for pre-meditated murder, and he faces a mandatory sentence of life in prison, if convicted.

Pistorius denies the charge and has said he mistook his girlfriend for a home invader when he fired shots from a pistol through a bathroom door that she was behind. Pistorius also was indicted for allegedly violating South Africa's firearms control act. Some 107 witnesses are to testify against him.

The American forensics team, who Burgess would not identify, is already in South Africa and has met with Pistorius' legal team.

In previous court appearances, Pistorius has often broken down crying and fought to maintain his composure. Before the start of proceedings he could be seen at times holding hands with relatives and praying.

The first phase of the trial will take place in March, but the entire trial could take place at various times across a year or more because of potential motions and postponements along the way.

Michael Steenkamp, the victim's uncle, said the model's family isn't focusing on Pistorius' guilt or innocence, and they will not attend any of the related court proceedings.

The uncle said his faith has helped him forgive Pistorius.

"If I can't forgive him, and I have been forgiven, then that is our sin. And I very much asked the Lord to guide me before I got to Port Elizabeth when the tragedy happened ... that took a lot of pressure off my shoulders," he said.

CNN's Joseph Netto contributed to this report

ADVERTISEMENT
Part of complete coverage on
Oscar Pistorius
August 8, 2014 -- Updated 1602 GMT (0002 HKT)
Oscar Pistorius' defense used the final day of closing arguments to painstakingly go through a timeline of the night he killed his girlfriend.
August 8, 2014 -- Updated 1145 GMT (1945 HKT)
What exactly is Oscar Pistorius charged with and why is he facing a judge rather than a jury trial?
August 7, 2014 -- Updated 0639 GMT (1439 HKT)
CNN's Robyn Curnow looks back at some of the key moments in the trial.
July 8, 2014 -- Updated 1224 GMT (2024 HKT)
CNN's Robyn Curnow reflects on her visit to athlete Oscar Pistorius' home, before he was on trial for murder.
June 30, 2014 -- Updated 0744 GMT (1544 HKT)
Oscar Pistorius' trial is under way again -- take a virtual tour of his apartment to see each side's case.
August 8, 2014 -- Updated 1116 GMT (1916 HKT)
He was the so-called "Fastest Man on No Legs," and his inspiring story captured the imagination of the world at the London Olympics.
August 8, 2014 -- Updated 1103 GMT (1903 HKT)
The striking, platinum-haired model was gearing up for her reality television debut.
May 5, 2014 -- Updated 1403 GMT (2203 HKT)
Oscar Pistorius was "praying, crying, torn apart," the first person on the scene testified.
April 14, 2014 -- Updated 0926 GMT (1726 HKT)
Prosecutor Gerrie Nel is known as the "bull dog" in South Africa's legal circles, and it's easy to see why.
April 10, 2014 -- Updated 1156 GMT (1956 HKT)
As the athlete is grilled in court, Becky Anderson asks psychologist Dr. James Thompson about his state of mind.
June 3, 2013 -- Updated 1745 GMT (0145 HKT)
Reeva Steenkamp on the beach in Port Elizabeth, South Africa.
Previously unseen photographs of Reeva Steenkamp show the South African beauty just months before her tragic death.
February 16, 2014 -- Updated 1708 GMT (0108 HKT)
The photos of Oscar Pistorius and girlfriend Reeva Steenkamp appear to show a young couple in love.
March 3, 2014 -- Updated 0913 GMT (1713 HKT)
He was the first amputee to compete at an able-bodied Olympics. Now, he's being accused of murdering his girlfriend.
March 1, 2014 -- Updated 1913 GMT (0313 HKT)
A week before her death, South African model Reeva Steenkamp talked about her secure, blissful environment.
ADVERTISEMENT