WASHINGTON, April 7, 2014 —The trial of Oscar Pistorius, the South African Paralympic and Olympic runner accused of murdering his girlfriend last Valentine’s Day, resumed today in Pretoria with Pistorius taking the stand. Unfortunately, Pistorius’s drama-filled testimony lacks any solid, evidentiary basis and instead seems intentionally orchestrated to render public pity and understanding for the perpetrator rather than the victim and the victim’s family.
On the stand this morning, Pistorius described his state of mind in the months following the 2013 Valentine’s Day shooting death of his girlfriend Reeva Steenkamp:
“If I hear a noise, I wake up in a state of terror, so much so I cannot sleep. For many weeks I could not sleep. In March last year I lost a lot of weight. I sought medical advice to start medication for sleeping.”
Pistorius, who also admits to being heavily medicated in order to cope with his anxiety and depression, continued by describing a particular terrifying night he experienced recently:
“I can’t remember if it was towards the end of last year or beginning of this year, I woke up in a state. I have a security guard that stands outside my door at night, I woke up and was terrified and climbed into a cupboard to hide, I phoned my sister to come over and sit with me and she did.”
Not long ago, Pistorius sought reverence for being a man capable of overcoming life’s obstacles. He was once quoted as saying, “You’re not disabled by the disabilities you have, you are able by the abilities you have.” Today, ironically, Pistorius blames those same obstacles for the death of Steenkamp.
Pistorius alludes to his disability being emotionally debilitating and that being born without fibulas made him feel vulnerable. This innate vulnerability caused him to fear for his life and blindly fire four shots through his bathroom door at whom he thought was an intruder but turned out to be Steenkamp.
“I was simply trying to protect Reeva. When she went to bed that night, she was loved. I have tried to put my words on paper many times, but no words would suffice,” Pistorius testified.
Suffice? An honest and truly remorseful person would not need to find adequate and appropriate words to explain his actions. An honest and remorseful person would admit to wrong doing without searching for an excuse or explanation. An honest and remorseful person would spare his dead girlfriend’s family the emotional devastation of a trial and plead guilty. An honest and remorseful person would accept the consequences with humility and put his fate in the hands and mercy of the judicial system.
To add further insult, Pistorius attempts to paint himself as a God-loving, animal-loving, and charitable activist. Why does any of this matter? We could say the same about Dennis Radar, the BTK Killer, who was a boy scout, military veteran, the president of his church council and worked in the community as an animal control officer. Why should it matter that Pistorius claims he prayed with Steenkamp before each meal (specifically, they prayed that Pistorius’s food consumption would lead to successful training efforts) and that he loves his dogs? Why does any of this matter?
What is an intelligent, discerning society to believe at this point? He’s superhuman or he’s less than human? Does Pistorius deserve more leniency than able-bodied humans? What does his defense say about the state-of-mind of the rest of the disabled, legless population? Should we fear them, too, and be concerned that any one of them will feel so vulnerable and defenseless that their only recourse for self-protection is to pull out a weapon and start shooting blindly into doors?
Pistorius is playing into the collective empathy of society. How can we, in good conscience, condemn a disabled man for making the mistake he made? After all, he is incredibly vulnerable and without legs despite being a world-class Olympic athlete. Any one of us would have done what he did if we had no legs and had suffered the life he suffered, right?
Clearly, Pistorius is crying for himself. He’s crying because he feels unjustly punished. In reality, he should be having difficulty sleeping. He should be depressed. He should be sorry. Why on earth does the defense consider anything Pistorius has to say a reason for Pistorius not to be punished for the senseless and reckless murder of Steenkamp?
A guilty person in denial will, without a doubt, stand before a judge and cry and whine and pull out every itty-bitty perceivable good deed he’s committed in hopes of seeking immediate and non-punishable redemption. On the other hand, a remorseful and accountable guilty person accepts that his behavior, whether provoked by fear or not, led to the death of a human being. A guilty and accountable person understands that justice must be served for the victim and for future victims of similar, senseless acts of violence.
Pitying Pistorius is exactly what he hopes. Regardless of feeling sorry for him or not, Pistorius killed a person and must face the consequences of his actions. Unfortunately and with deep delusions, Pistorius believes that sudden and rapid weight loss, being depressed, anxious, and unable to sleep soundly in the past year are punishment enough.
Ms. Carrasquillo is the author of the novelette, Escaping the Boy: My Life with a Sociopath. She is currently writing her second book, Embracing Your Light: Healing and Recovery in the Aftermath of Abuse and Trauma. Follow Paula on Google +, Twitter, Facebook and WordPress.