'Blade Runner' Oscar Pistorius Charged in Girlfriend's Murder - Tarnished Twenty
Tarnished Twenty- The FindLaw Sports Law Blog

'Blade Runner' Oscar Pistorius Charged in Girlfriend's Murder

South African track and field athlete Oscar Pistorius was charged with murder in the shooting death of his girlfriend.

Pistorius is the double amputee affectionately referred to as the "Blade Runner" who made history last summer for his performance during the Olympic games.

Last night, South African police say that they opened a murder case against him after his 30-year-old girlfriend, model Reeva Steenkamp, was found dead at his home, reports Reuters. She'd been shot four times.

Police say that they are aware of previous incidents at Oscar Pistorius' house including "allegations of domestic nature," Reuters reports. However, investigators are still trying to piece together exactly what happened the night of his girlfriend's death.

Previous to the murder charge, there were rumors that Pistorius may have mistaken his girlfriend for a burglar. It was known that the runner kept a variety of weapons in his home. And given that it was Valentine's Day, his girlfriend may have planned a surprise.

Police, however, told The Associated Press they were "not sure" about those rumors.

Had this crime occurred in the United States, Pistorius could potentially be facing first degree murder charges if prosecutors believed that he intentionally killed his girlfriend.

In his defense, Pistorius may try to claim that he had no intention to kill his girlfriend. If there was an honest mistake, this explanation may have the effect of reducing the charges that Pistorious could face to manslaughter charges -- at least, under U.S. law.

Generally, voluntary manslaughter is a form of homicide that involves the intentional killing of another person in the heat of passion, after provocation, or in imperfect self-defense. In other words, voluntary manslaughter occurs when someone intentionally kills another person, but acts "in the moment" with no time to "premeditate."

In Oscar Pistorious' case, however, neighbors "heard things earlier in the evening and when the shooting took place," potentially suggesting a domestic dispute, police told reporters, according to NBC News. Police say they will argue against bail for Pistorius when he appears in court later today, The Times of South Africa reports.

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