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Blade Runner: Was it murder or an accident?

Saturday, February 23, 2013 - 12:01 am

The case of Oscar Pistorius may not be of O.J. Simpson-trial-of-the-century caliber, but it has most of the elements to be just as engrossing: a high-profile athlete, beautiful young woman, murder most foul.

Or was it? Police say Pistorius, the double-amputee Olympian runner known as Blade Runner, shot and killed his girlfriend, model Reeva Steenkamp, in his bathroom where she was hiding after an argument. He contends he accidentally shot her because he thought she was an intruder.

And the verdict could really go either way. The case against Pistorius is circumstantial – only he knows for sure what happened. Furthermore, the lead investigator on the case, police inspector Hilton Botha, failed to collect crucial information or seize material evidence and possibly contaminated the crime scene.

At least that’s what magistrate Desmond Nair said Friday when he let Pistorius out on bail of $112,803. Although he as much as said the state’s case was week, the judge also said he had difficulty believing elements of Pistorius’ story. Nonetheless, he said, the Olympian is not a flight risk, does not show a propensity for violence and does not constitute a risk to the community.

The case took a weird turn Thursday when it was announced that investigator Botha had been replaced because he himself was facing attempted murder charges from a 2011 case. Before that announcement, he seemed to damage the prosecution’s case by testifying that police “have found nothing inconsistent with” Pistorius’ account.