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Oscar Pistorius: Guilty Of Murder?

Oscar Pistorius is hot tempered; is he also a cold-bloodied killer?

Oscar Pistorius has a history of beating insurmountable odds. Both of the sprint runner's legs were amputated below the knee when he was only 11 months old. Despite being a double amputee, he competed in both the Olympics and Paralympics (winning gold), setting world records along the way and gaining the nickname "Blade Runner" and "the fastest man on no legs."

These days, he’s in a defendant's chair, attempting to sidestep a guilty verdict for the murder of his girlfriend, Reeva Steenkamp, who died from gunshot wounds in the early hours of Valentine's Day 2013.

Pistorius claims he was sleeping when he woke up to noises in the bathroom and thought it was an intruder. Fearing for his life, he fired four shots through the locked bathroom door. In his own words, Pistorius says, "I didn't intend to shoot. My firearm was pointed at the door because that's where I believed that somebody was. When I heard a noise, I didn't have to think, and I fired; I fired my weapon. It was an accident." Prosecutor Gerrie Nel retorted, "You knew Reeva was behind the door, and you shot at her", which Pistorius quickly and vehemently denied.

Pistorius claims to have screamed repeatedly to Steenkamp about the intruder, but Nel counters if that were the case, Steenkamp, on the other side of the bathroom door, would certainly have responded to his warnings.

Questions may rise and doubts may linger, but texts are a difficult thing to overcome. Steenkamp texted to Pistorius that she was afraid of him and his temper, and that they lived a "double standard relationship". "I do everything to make you happy; you do everything to throw tantrums", she texted him.

Is the mythical intruder just a convenient explanation to cover up a murder? Or was Pistorius truly in fear for his life that fateful night? The problem is that, to friends, he is notoriously known as hot-head, trigger-happy and a jealous man. He has a history of firing his guns in public, including once in a restaurant and another through the roof of a girlfriend's car.

Neighbors and witnesses within the gated and security-patrolled estate claim to have heard a man shouting, then a woman's terrified screams while the shots were being fired. Pistorius, however, says he never heard a woman scream. The prosecution alleges he killed Steenkamp after a heated argument.

Let’s digress a bit and discuss personal responsibility and common sense from an armchair. There are many responsibilities that go along with gun ownership for self-defense. You need to know how to load the gun and spend time at the target range in order to become a decent shot. You must realize that you have in your possession the means to end someone's life. Finally, you must understand one of the first rules of shooting, which is to identify your target.

Pistorius claimed self-defense, yet he never saw the "intruder". Why did he immediately think intruder if he didn't see anyone? Rather than shoot four rounds into a locked bathroom door, why didn't he inform the "intruder" he was armed? Why didn't he call 911? Why didn’t he look for his girlfriend to ensure her safety? Why didn't he just leave? Why, why, why?

Pistorius has been diagnosed with an anxiety disorder by a psychiatrist, and now the prosecution wants a full mental evaluation of the Olympian. Granted this would be a high stress situation and he may not have been thinking clearly, but the fact is that even if everything he said was true, he made a grave mistake in judgment that cost another human being their life. This equals guilty, at the very least, of culpable homicide (equivalent to manslaughter in the US).

But, the South Africa prosecution is going after premeditated first degree murder, and rightfully so. Pistorius’s defense sounds ridiculous, like he has thrown up a smokescreen of events to muddy the waters enough to escape a conviction. The most likely scenario is exactly what the prosecution contends: That fateful night he argued with his girlfriend and she got scared. She ran into the bathroom, locking the door in order to protect herself from his rage. But Pistorius had his gun, and while having his tantrum and amidst her screams, he shot through the bathroom door and murdered her in cold blood.

Of course this in no way means he will be found guilty, and THAT is why the ratings for the trial are reminiscent of OJ and Jody Arias -- a real life, unscripted “reality show”, complete with amputations, guns, death, suspected lies and possibly at the end, life in prison.

Dale Archer, M.D., is a clinical psychiatrist and author of The New York Times bestseller, Better Than Normal: How What Makes You Different Can Make You Exceptional.

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