Oscar Pistorius will go to trial in early March after being indicted Monday on charges of murder and illegal possession of ammunition in connection with the Valentine’s Day shooting death of his girlfriend.
Pistorius, the double-amputee Olympian known as the Blade Runner, wept and held his brother’s and sister’s hands before the hearing, which fell on what would have been the 30th birthday of Reeva Steenkamp, in Pretoria, South Africa. His trial is scheduled to begin March 3 before a judge in High Court in Pretoria. South Africa does not have trial by jury.
Pistorius contends the shooting of Steenkamp was an accident that occurred when he mistook her for an intruder in the middle of the night as the two slept at his home. Prosecutors allege that he killed her after a fight and took time to put on his prosthetic legs before shooting her three times through the door to the toilet cubicle in his bathroom.
Two key pieces of evidence in the trial, according to the indictment, are expected to be cellphone records and forensic analysis of the trajectory of the shots, which could show whether Pistorius was standing on his prosthetic legs or on the stumps of his legs.
Steenkamp’s uncle, Michael, planned to observe Steenkamp’s birthday with her parents today. “My wife and myself are going up to [see] my brother in Port Elizabeth, and we will be there with [Steenkamp’s parents] on Monday to be there for Reeva’s birthday,” her uncle, Michael Steenkamp, told reporters (via CNN). “What could we do? Bake a cake and, you know, sit down quietly and reminisce about the qualities of Reeva’s life.”