Crime scene photos from the Oscar Pistorius case have finally leaked, and they are horrifying. Taken from outside the bathroom door in the South Africa mansion where Pistorius shot and killed his girlfriend, Reeva Steenkamp.
The Pistorius crime scene photos show a splotchy pool of blood beside the toilet where officials say Steenkamp cowered in fear as Pistorius' bullets snapped through the wooden panel. One side of the toilet seat is smeared with blood, where it appears the dying model gripped the edge before she was dragged from the bathroom. That, too, is evidenced by the smeared trail of blood leading out of the bathroom.
The crime scene has been marked by police in the photos, with two tags labeling a pair of bullet holes in the bathroom door. One panel of the door is missing, which may have held two more bullet holes. Both prosecution and defense agree that four bullets were fired through the door, three of which struck Steenkamp.
Oscar has admitted that he shot and killed Reeva Steenkamp on Valentine's Day last year, but insists it was an accident. In his account, he carried Reeva out of the bathroom and downstairs while trying to call for help. A second Pistorius crime scene photo, published by TMZ, shows blood drops on the gleaming stairs.
Oscar Pistorius, known by the nickname Blade Runner, is a South African sprint runner whose legs were amputated below the knee when he was just 11 months old. Pistorius rose to extraordinary fame at the 2011 World Championships in Athletics, when he became the first amputee to win a world track metal in an able-bodied competition. He later became the first double-leg amputee to compete in the Olympics when he raced in the men's 400 metres and 4 x 400 meters relay races at the 2012 Summer Olympics. The Blade Runner moniker was inspired by his J-shaped prosthetic running blades.
But the crime scene photos recently obtained by the press mark a dark new chapter in the life of an athlete long considered a global hero. In the early morning of February 14, 2013 -- Valentine's Day -- Pistorius shot and killed his girlfriend Reeva Steenkamp through the bathroom door while she was inside.
Pistorius quickly claimed that he had woken up thinking he heard the sounds of an intruder in the bathroom and rose from bed assuming Steenkamp was asleep beside him. Supposedly without his prosthetic legs, Pistorius said he shouted at the bathroom door and when he heard no reply he fired into it.
The prosecution has argued that Pistorius put on his prosthetic legs, walked to the bathroom, and intentionally shot Steenkamp through the door, adding that the time required by this process was enough to call the murder "premeditated." Chief investigating officer Hilton Botha stated at the bail hearing that a witness had reported hearing sounds of fighting from the Pistorius home before shots were fired, and that the downward trajectory of the gunshots indicated that Pistorius had been wearing his prosthetic legs and had aimed intentionally at the toilet. Botha was removed from the case on Feb. 22 after it came to light that he himself was facing attempted murder charges for a 2009 incident.
Reeva Steenkamp was a model born in Cape Town, South Africa. She studied law at the University of Port Elizabeth, which later became a part of Nelson Mandela Metropolitan University, and graduated with a Bachelor of Laws in 2005. Steenkamp worked as a paralegal and a model after university, and later worked in television as a FashionTV presenter and spokesperson in television advertisements for a variety of products.
The Pistorius crime scene photos may not prove which account is true, but they do bring to life the terror Steenkamp must have felt that early morning as the bullets began to fly through the door and into her body.
Trial watchers will no doubt be keen to see how the Pistorius crime scene photos will be used as evidence by the prosecution and defense. Will they support the Blade Runner's cause, or send him to jail?
Pistorius' next court appearance is scheduled for June 4, 2013.