True crime and trial opinions from a layman's perspective
There are only two questions at the core of this trial. Did Oscar intend to kill a person and did he know that person was Reeva.
All of us collectively have spent over a year pontificating about the “whys” and “hows” of this case but at the end of the day, why he did it or what they may or may not have fought about, is actually not important to the verdict.
It’s very easy to get bogged down in those details, and that almost always plays in favor of the defense predominantly in a jury trial. However, a Judge knows that many questions in these types of cases are almost never resolved. Judges rely on the facts of the case, not the possible scenarios.
Does it feel more comfortable to know “why” when these murders happen? Of course it does. As humans, it’s our nature to want to know why. But the reality is that it is an extremely rare circumstance that we ever truly know why anybody kills.
For those who believe that there’s too much doubt to convict OP because there’s no evidence of a fight, or because OP was a good and kind person who would never do something like this, or because he seemed genuinely upset afterwards… perhaps consider this…
Oscar was a gun owner and gun enthusiast, by his own admission. Based on evidence presented at trial, his gun was partially for protection and partially for bravado. He admittedly carried it around wherever he went and acted carelessly with it on more than one occasion. Is this important to the case? Yes it is. It shows that it’s “possible” for something to go wrong.
Is it a reality that people who own guns versus people who don’t own guns have a higher risk of injury or death? Yes. This is not a PSA on gun dangers; it is simply an acknowledgement that somebody in possession of a deadly weapon is capable of causing death.
And then add in Oscar’s penchant, and again his own admission, for becoming frustrated easily, having a short fuse and often being stressed out. The two are a dangerous combination. You don’t need to be a monster, a sociopath or even a terrible person for a killing to happen in a bad moment under these conditions. It happens every day to very average people.
But back to my original point for this post… does any of that really matter to the verdict? I say, no, it does not.
DID OSCAR INTEND TO KILL A PERSON – MURDER? I adamantly say YES. Here are the facts of the case:
1. When presented with a moment that OP perceived to be dangerous, he consciously chose to retrieve his weapon. Whether you believe his story that the window opening startled him, or believe the State that he and Reeva were in a fight, it is common cause that he retrieved his weapon for a purpose.
2. OP was adequately trained on this weapon.
3. OP consciously chose to keep this weapon loaded and one up at all times.
4. OP consciously removed the holster and safety from the weapon during the incident.
5. According to OP, he consciously chose to keep the lights off so as not to give away his position.
6. According to OP, he consciously yelled at THE PERSON to get out of his house.
7. According to OP, hearing the toilet door slam and seeing it closed solidified for him that A PERSON was inside of the toilet room.
8. OP was aware that he was not the only person in the house that night – he knew Reeva was there in the very same bedroom suite with him.
9. He never asked/didn’t try to identify who was in the bathroom. He just knew it was A PERSON.
10. According to OP, his finger was consciously on the trigger of his loaded, one up, weapon.
11. Although not admitted by OP, his gun was aimed directly at the toilet door. Behind that door was A PERSON. The ballistics evidence proves that the shots were not wild – they were consciously pointed at the door. OP slipped up when he said he didn’t fire a warning shot in a different direction because the bullet could have bounced off of the shower door and hit him. He was aware and conscious of his own safety and in which direction he was shooting – pointing it towards THE PERSON.
12. Admitted by OP, a noise in the toilet room, which would have been caused by A PERSON, prompted him to shoot.
13. He shot four times.
14. He left the gun, with remaining bullets, cocked and ready to fire. This means, he consciously stopped shooting at some point. He didn’t empty the entire gun. He stopped after four. A conscious act.
15. THE PERSON in the toilet room never spoke a word, was never seen, never indicated that they had a weapon and never presented a threat. This is not putative self defense. Hearing a window open in the bathroom when you are sharing your bedroom with a person that you are aware is awake, is not sufficient cause to believe that you are under attack and you have no choice but to kill.
16. OP cannot logically claim that every single action he made that night was carefully thought out, except for one, the four shots that killed Reeva. It doesn’t work that way. No experienced Judge, or quite frankly, clearly thinking person, would ever believe that a person who has been deemed mentally competent by a team of psychiatrists and a psychologist “wasn’t thinking” when he pulled the trigger, considering all of his earlier actions during the incident.
THIS IS WHY I BELIEVE THAT HE HAS BEEN PROVEN GUILTY OF MURDER, NOT CULPABLE HOMICIDE. HE SHOT AND KILLED WITH INTENT.
DID OSCAR KNOW IT WAS REEVA? I say, yes. Here is an abbreviated list:
1. The fans and the balcony light. When the incident first happened, OP claimed that he had to go “out” on to his patio to retrieve his fan. Now on the stand, the fans were never outside, just halfway outside in the doorway. He never had to go “out” to move anything. In fact according to Oscar’s version, he was only standing a few feet away from where Reeva was in bed, she was awake AND the balcony light was on. The likelihood that he would be clueless that she moved is very slim. He had to add in the second fan, because two fans were found in the room and it takes longer to move two fans than one. He screwed up though when he told the court that both fans were left on the entire night. The police found one fan in the corner, unplugged, and the other fan was in front of the door (unmoved) and not on. His story does not match the physical evidence.
2. The right side of the bed. That area was cluttered with cords, iPad/iPad cover, shirt, clippers standing up on a charger. Yet, OP claims that he walked around that area on his stumps, and later sat there to put on his prosthetics which had been left in that same area. His account of walking around in that area during the incident cannot be possible with the items on the floor.
3. The duvet. It was found on the ground in front of the bed (blocking a clear entrance to the balcony). It also had blood spatter on it which was very likely caused when OP carried Reeva’s body out of the bedroom. If the duvet was lying in that area during the incident, it would have been impossible for OP to run to the balcony and open the doors, especially on his stumps, without falling. He did not testify to falling. Instead, he testified that the duvet was absolutely always on the bed and the police moved it. The physical evidence does not support these false claims.
4. Lack of bloody hand prints. OP was covered in blood after pulling Reeva out of the toilet room. We saw the photos of him that morning. He claims he had to deactivate his alarm (on a remote) to get out of his bedroom, then he had to unlock the bedroom door and open it, and then run downstairs to open the front door. There was no evidence presented of bloody hand prints on his alarm remote, bedroom door, front door or iPhones. Why? There are a few possible reasons: He either ran out of the bedroom and downstairs to open door and make calls BEFORE he pulled Reeva out of the bathroom (which would be inconsistent with his story) or he washed his hands immediately after he pulled her out of the bathroom before calling anybody or going downstairs. There is no dispute that he made some calls within minutes after the shooting. If there are no bloody prints on the 0020 phone that was used, then he either washed his hands first or he hadn’t pulled her out of the bathroom yet. Both scenarios do not match his story of desperately battling to get her out of the toilet room immediately upon thinking it was her in that room. Something doesn’t add up here.
5. The screams. OP claims that Reeva never uttered a single word during the entire event from the point that he got out of bed, even though she was awake (and he states that he knew she was awake). However, multiple witnesses distinctly heard a woman’s voice and a woman’s screams before and during the gunshots. Mrs. van der Mewre heard a woman’s voice arguing from 2am-3am, when OP and Reeva were supposedly asleep according to OP. Burger, Johnson, and both Stipps heard terrified female screams up until the last bangs. Then silence. The only way that the defense could try to explain this was to say that Oscar screams like a woman and every one of the witnesses was mistaken. They claimed they would prove in court that he screams like a woman, they even did audio tests prior to trial, yet nothing was ever played for the court. Obviously those tests failed as miserably as OP’s own testimony on the stand. The ear witnesses that the defense brought to trial, Nhlengethwas and Motshuane, ended up supporting the state’s case. They stated they heard a man crying after the bangs. The fact that they saw the security vehicle/Stander’s mini-cooper within minutes of hearing the cries, fits the timeline that the gunshots were at 3:15+ (not earlier as the Defense says). When trying to understand some of the differences in ear witness testimony, it is essential to identify who heard screams and who heard cries. The people who heard screams, heard them BEFORE THE BANGS. They all identified those screams as a woman. The people who heard cries, heard them AFTER THE BANGS. They identified those cries as a man. Reeva screaming before the shots. Then silence = death. Then Oscar crying afterwards. Use that equation when listening to the ear witness testimony, and it tells the story!
6. Stomach contents. I recognize these are highly subjective. But it is relevant circumstantial evidence in that it supports the van der Mewre evidence of hearing a woman around 2am that morning. It opens up the window of opportunity that Reeva was indeed awake and not asleep as OP states.
7. The bathroom light OP testified that the bathroom light was off during the gunshots. He didn’t turn it on until later, after running from room to room. Annette Stipp, who was awake at the time of the first bangs, around 3am, saw the bathroom light on immediately after hearing the bangs. Dr. Stipp also saw it on. That bathroom light was on during the event! This is a huge discrepancy in Oscar’s story.
8. The aim OP refused to admit that he aimed at the door during his testimony. He claims his gun was pointed in the general vicinity of the door (paraphrasing a bit here). But the trajectory of his shots not only support that he was aiming at the door, you take a look at this picture and decide for yourself if he was pointing at Reeva. Ballistics proved that there was time between the first shot (the hip) and the subsequent shots when she was down on the magazine rack. He shot once, and then continued to shoot three more times. Three of those bullets hit her.
9. The police/security. On one hand, OP states that he is extremely security conscious and has outfitted his home with all sorts of extra security measures. He states that when he initially heard a noise that he perceived as an intruder, he repeatedly yelled to Reeva to call the police. Yet, he never used his panic alarm and he never once asked the police for help. He claims he does “not remember” speaking to security guard Baba at all that night, yet Baba testifies that Oscar did speak to him and told him “everything is fine”. OP is able to remember other phone calls that he made just moments before, but does not remember the suspicious and incriminating “everything is fine” phone call. Selective memory, especially during crucial moments of a crime timeline, is a HUGE indication to me that the person is not being truthful. Circumstantially, you can absolutely surmise that OP did not want the police at his house. OP calling the Standers first before anybody else supports this. Then add to that OP moving the body and asking the Standers to take Reeva to the hospital themselves, even though she had a gaping hole in her head with brain matter coming out, indicates that he wanted Reeva’s body out of the house. I don’t know anybody who would move a body under those conditions.
There are SO many elements of OP’s own story that are not supported at all by ear witnesses, physical evidence, ballistics evidence, medical examiner evidence and his own defense witnesses. Those “expert” witnesses simply were not able to support his claims. They all came to court with reports that had been written within days and weeks before their testimony – after all of the crucial State’s witnesses, as well as OP, had already testified. You can absolutely add that to the pile of circumstantial evidence against OP.
There are many, many more items that I could list here but I wanted to highlight some of the crucial ones. Does it matter what they were fighting about, or even if there was a fight? Does it matter what the Stipps heard closer to 3am? Does it matter whether or not OP immediately felt regret after pulling the trigger? I say, no, it does not.
There is a mountain of evidence that points to OP’s story not being true. If you don’t believe Oscar’s story, then it’s simple. He knew it was Reeva in the toilet room and he killed her with intent (per my points above).