I have, like many people, been following the developments and questioning in the Pistorius trial.
Several times, I have asked myself and discussed with friends why we find it so gripping.
In my opinion, its not simply a case of celebrity fascination. We are not watching the trial because Oscar is well-known, we are watching it because of what it is – a murder trial.
How many of us would have tuned in to watch a locally based murder trial if it had been available to view on television. Quite a few, I would imagine? We love to look at evidence, see testimony, make judgements, listen to clever lines of questioning and the answers given by witnesses and the accused.
In much the same way as we enjoy dissecting a crime novel, we look for clues, assess evidence, try to weigh up red herrings and then form an opinion as to either ‘whodunnit’ or whether the accused is guilty as charged.
In the case of Pistorius, that’s just what I have done. I’ve assessed his behaviour, the physical evidence and, amongst other things, the explanations he has given for how he came to open fire both when he shot Reeva and on other times when he has carelessly fired a pistol.
As the trial progresses, I’ve formed an opinion, just as a juror would, and this, I would argue, is the reason that we find the coverage to fascinating. We all put ourselves in the position of a juror, and we all form an opinion on his guilt or innocence. We are all going to be glued to the verdict to see if the Judge agrees with us, or not.
For me, so far, I think he is guilty. I think he lost self-control during an argument, lost his temper, fired in anger and then, instantly regretted what he had done. I think that Reeva ran from him in fear and that she was in the toilet as a place where she felt, temporarily safe. He came after her, tried to batter down the door and, as his loss-of-control increased, he returned with his gun. He then fired in temper, completely disregarding the danger and risk to Reeva as she sat on the toilet.
Much of his upset is, I believe, genuine. I believe he is genuinely distraught at what he has done, perhaps for what he did to Reeva, or possibly at what he has done to himself. But that doesn’t negate the fact that he shot her in anger. I think the idea of an intruder came to him in panic, as an excuse to try and avoid blame. Not an unusual reaction for someone who has done wrong, but in this case it is so blatantly improbable that I cannot conceive of how people might believe the story.
The trial continues…