Pistorius Charged With Premeditated Murder, "Disputes" Charge

Your News Companion by Ben Mathis-Lilley
Feb. 15 2013 10:28 AM

Pistorius Charged With Premeditated Murder, Family "Disputes" Charge

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South African Olympic sprinter Oscar Pistorius (right) hides his face in his hands during his hearing on Friday on the charge of murdering his girlfriend, Reeva Steenkamp.

Photo by Antoine de Ras/AFP/Getty Images

Oscar Pistorius made his first appearance in court Friday since being charged with the Valentine's Day murder of his girlfriend, model Reeva Steenkamp, but the bail hearing answered few questions and raised even more. The biggest takeaway was that the prosecution announced that it planned to make the case that Steenkamp's death was "premeditated murder," suggesting that police have found no evidence that would support early speculation that the Olympic star had shot his girlfriend after mistaking her for an intruder.

Pistorius, who broke down sobbing while in the courtroom, did not enter a formal plea on Friday. His family, however, released a statement that suggested that the Paralympic champion known as the Blade Runner will plead not guilty when the time comes, but the statement offered nothing in the way of an explanation of a possible defense. "The alleged murder is disputed in the strongest terms," the family's statement read without elaborating further. The family also said that Pistorius wanted to "send his deepest sympathies to the family of Reeva" and that "our thoughts and prayers today should be for Reeva and her family—regardless of the circumstances of this terrible, terrible tragedy."

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Here's the New York Times with a bit more on the scene in South Africa, where the case has become pretty much the be-all, end-all news story:

Grim-faced and tired looking, Mr. Pistorius entered the court as news of events at his upmarket home in Pretoria eclipsed a State of the Nation address by President Jacob Zuma on Thursday evening and took up the front page headlines in many newspapers on Friday. “Golden Boy Loses Shine,” said one headline in The Sowetan.
The courtroom in Pretoria was packed and officials said no cameras would be allowed inside. Police officials have indicated that they will oppose an expected application for bail. Wearing a gray suit, Mr. Pistorius arrived for the hearing sitting in the back a police car, shielding his face.

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Josh Voorhees is a Slate senior writer. He lives in Iowa City. Follow him on Twitter.