Olympic track star Oscar Pistorius is free on bail pending his murder trial in South Africa after a judge's ruling that surprised many. Why was he let out?
Pistorius is free on bail - set randomly at $112,771 - despite shooting his model girlfriend Reeva Steenkamp to death on Valentine's Day in his home.
Yes, he's presumed innocent in a court of law, but the grisly nature of the crime made bail seem unlikely, whether you buy his defense or not.
The judge's rationale for cutting the athlete loose was several-fold:
- It is highly unlikely Oscar Pistorius would flee the country, given his fame.
- As a double amputee, even if he tried to, airport security would stop him.
- The prosecutors didn't prove that Pistorius has a propensity for violence.
- Most significantly, prosecutors' charge of premeditation is questionable.
Before ruling, the judge asked the state an interesting question:
If Pistorius is lying when he says he thought his girlfriend an intruder, as police allege, why didn't he "stage" a break-in to make his story more believable?
The prosecutor had to concede that point somewhat, noting, "The fact that we have only one survivor of that tragic night is difficult for the state."
The prosecutor argued, however, that proving premeditation doesn't mean Pistorius had to plan the murder the night before, or even hours before.
"He planned it that night when she locked herself in [the bathroom]," the prosecutor said, while Pistorius' attorney argued that the charge is dubious.
Pistorius' lawyer suggested that the charge should be lowered to "culpable homicide" -- meaning the Olympian didn't have the intent to kill Reeva Steenkamp.
The athlete's camp insists it was a "tragic mistake."
In a few months, a jury will have to decide that.