Oscar Pistorius, aka the Blade Runner, has hired a “CSI-style” U.S. forensic team of specialists to help prepare his defense for murder. The forensic team is likely being hired by Oscar Pistorius’ lawyers in order to counter police officers and criminal experts, who are expected to testify at his murder trial next year. The forensic team visited the South African house where Pistorius is staying accompanied by his lawyers on Monday, according to The Gazette on Oct. 1.
Pistorius’ spokeswoman Anneliese Burgess told The AP that the U.S. team of experts are there, but couldn’t give any details as to their identities or areas of expertise. It’s also not clear if they plan to stay through to the trial in March, according to The Mirror.
Oscar Pistorius will go on trial in the South African capital of Pretoria on Mar. 3, accused of premeditated murder in the shooting death of his girlfriend Reeva Steenkamp at his house in the early morning hours of Feb. 14. The trial is expected to last two weeks.
Pistorius faces a possible life sentence with a minimum of 25 years in prison if convicted. He could be convicted of a lesser murder charge that carries a 15-year mandatory sentence, or even of culpable homicide or negligent killing, which has just a 5-year prison term.
South African police investigated the shooting for six months before finally indicting Pistorius just this past August. Their investigation included nearly 20 forensic experts, who appear on their list of over 100 state witnesses for the high-profile trial.
The state’s investigating team is made up of police detectives, forensic experts, ballistics experts, forensic psychologists and technology experts, according to a statement from the national commissioner’s office for the South African Police Service.
Pistorius, 26, maintains that he awoke to sounds coming from his bathroom, and shot his gun through the toilet closet door eight times out of fear and in self-defense.
Prosecutors have said they have witnesses, most likely to be neighbors or security guards at Pistorius’ gated community, who will testify that they heard a woman scream before hearing the sound of gunshots.
They’ll use that to try and prove that the Olympic athlete must have been aware that his 29-year-old model girlfriend was in the toilet cubicle before he fired off the four shots, hitting Steenkamp three times and killing her.
Other forensic evidence will center around the trajectory of the bullet holes in the cubicle door. Prosecutors have alleged that Pistorius took the time to put on his prosthetic legs before shooting through the door.
If the U.S. forensic team working for the defense can prove that the height of the bullet holes, as well as their trajectory, show he did not have his prosthetic legs on, they may hinder the prosecution’s assertion of premeditated murder.
There has been constant speculation that cellphone records and eyewitness accounts may point to a loud fight between the couple on the night of the shooting, which happened on Valentines day, lending credence to a possible motive.
Nicknamed the Blade Runner due to specialized prosthetic limbs he wears to race, Pistorius won six Paralympic gold medals. In 2012 he became the first amputee runner to compete in the Olympics.
Pistorius was born without fibula bones in both legs, and had them amputated below the knee at 11 months old.