Oscar Pistorius' Lawyer Presses For Downgrade Of Charge

8:48 AM, Feb 21, 2013   |    comments
Olympian Oscar Pistorius stands following his bail hearing in Pretoria, South Africa, on Tuesday. (Photo: AP)
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JOHANNESBURG, South Africa (USA TODAY) -- A bail hearing for South African track star Oscar Pistorius, charged with premeditated murder of his girlfriend, took a dramatic turn after it was revealed that the lead prosecution witness is himself facing attempted murder charges.

On the third day of the bail hearing, defense attorney Barry Roux continued to press for a downgrade in the charges of premeditated murder against Pistorius, saying the state hasn't made its case.

"The poor quality of the evidence presented by chief investigating officer Botha exposed disastrous shortcomings in the state's case," Roux said.

Prosecutor Gerrie Nel told the court that inspector Hilton Botha, who testified Wednesday, is facing seven counts of attempted murder and is expected to stand trial in May in relation to a 2011 shooting. Botha and two other police officers allegedly fired at a minibus during an arrest attempt.

The charges had been dropped in March 2012 but were reinstated Feb. 4. Nels said he learned about the charges Wednesday.

Police brigadier Neville Malila said police made a decision Wednesday to bolster the investigation by adding officers to it to create a team.

On the stand Thursday, Botha was asked by magistrate Desmond Nair whether he thought it was important Reeva Steenkamp could have used her phone to contact people in the hours leading up to her death, and whether phone records had been requested. Botha answered "yes" to both questions, adding that he had not received Steenkamp's phone records.

The judge then remarked that there seemed to be a lack of urgency from the police in obtaining the records.

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Roux also pointed to the prosecution ignoring Pistorius' claims that he thought a burglar was in the house and says that Botha's affidavit supports Pistorius' version of events.

Wednesday, the prosecution suffered setbacks when the defense rebutted evidence against Pistorius. Botha said the police have no evidence that contradicts the athlete's version of events.

Botha also testified that needles and testosterone were found in Pistorius' bedroom, but the defense said the substance is an herbal substance. The Associated Press reported that the substance is still being tested.

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