Sports

Oscar Pistorius, South African Sprinter, Charged WIth Murdering Girlfriend

| by Sylvan Lane
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Oscar Pistorius, the South African double-amputee sprinter who wowed the world at the 2012 Summer Olympic Games in London, was indicted Monday on a murder charge for the shooting death of his girlfriend, South African model Reeva Steenkamp on Feb. 14.

Pistorius, who was weeping before the indictment began, will be tried from March 3-20, 2014. There is no trial by jury in South Africa, so a judge will preside over the case. The minimum sentence for murder conviction in the country, which does not have the death penalty, is 25 years to life in prison. The sprinter is also facing an illegal possession of ammunition charge, according to ESPN.

“Prosecutors said Pistorius shot ‘with the intention to kill a person,’ and a prosecution spokesman said after the hearing that it was premeditated murder, according to ESPN. “The prosecution also will attempt to show the couple argued before she was killed as part of its case that Pistorius intended to kill Steenkamp.”

The report continues:

The case will be sent to the North Gauteng High Court in Pretoria, where a judge will ultimately pronounce the athlete innocent or guilty. South Africa does not have trial by jury.

Although the word "premeditated" was not contained in the indictment, prosecutors said afterward that it was a case of premeditated murder.

"When you talk of intentional, it's premeditated. Intentional. He wanted to do that," prosecution spokesman Medupe Simasiku said. "In as far as a sound case, let the court decide on that. We believe it will go through in our favor."

Prosecutors said the second charge of possession of illegal ammunition relates to a lack of proper licensing for .38 caliber bullets found at Pistorius' home. Pistorius shot Steenkamp with his licensed 9mm handgun.

CBS News reports the prosecution will call 107 witness during the trial, including neighbors who claimed to have heard female screaming before and after Pistorius fired the fatal shots, and others who will be asked about the sprinter’s previous aggressive and violent behavior.

These witnesses include South African boxing star Kevin Lerena, who was with Pistorius when he fired a loaded gun in a crowded Johannesburg restaurant last year. Lerena was shot in the foot and will form part of the state's case, which aims to portray Pistorius as “a trigger-happy, aggressive bully,” according to CBS News.

Sources: ESPN, CBS News