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Blade Runner: Murder or Mistake?

Aired February 24, 2013 - 20:30   ET



RANDI KAYE, CNN ANCHOR (voice-over): An inspiring hero, a beautiful model.

REEVA STEENKAMP, MODEL: It's a really, really fun production. And, yes.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: We start this morning with a shocking Valentine's Day tragedy.

KAYE: A nation in shock.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: It's devastating, tragic.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: The world renowned Olympian Oscar Pistorius has been charged with murder in the death of his girlfriend.

KAYE: For a week, the world has watched the triumphant story of Oscar Pistorius turned to tragedy. Just last summer, this was Pistorius, the first amputee ever to compete in the Olympic Games and a source of enormous pride for a sports-crazed nation.

Today, a totally different scene.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yesterday we called him a hero. And the following day people just say, nah, he should just be put to the sword.

KAYE: And a flood of confusing details.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: The neighbors did hear gunshots.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: She died in his arms.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: He thought she was a burglar.

KAYE: But everyone agrees on a simple tragic fact. On Valentine's Day, Oscar Pistorius shot and killed his girlfriend, Reeva Steenkamp, leaving a family without their daughter and a nation without its hero.


KAYE: Hello, I'm Randi Kaye. Welcome to this special hour of A.C. 360, "Blade Runner: Murder or Mistake?" Millions of people in countries around the world have been asking those key questions, arguing the evidence, riveted by every detail since that killing. Those details emerged in sharp relief during a four-day court proceeding to determine whether the Blade Runner, Oscar Pistorius, remains free until trial. He will, but for three of those four days, it was hard to tell and impossible to turn away.

In this hour, we're going to walk you through those days and what lies ahead. We will show you the evidence and lay out the case with our legal and forensic experts.

First, a look at how we got here, including the rare legal decision to introduce an account of that fateful morning in Oscar Pistorius' own words.


KAYE (voice-over): It was February 14, Valentine's Day, long before dawn. And something awful was about to happen inside the home of track star Oscar Pistorius.

By 4:15 a.m., the lead investigator would arrive to find Pistorius' girlfriend dead, killed by three gunshots that Pistorius had fired. Was it murder or a terrible mistake? We may never know the real story, but Oscar Pistorius wants us to know his story, detailed in this rare affidavit he gave the court.

Hours before the fatal shooting, Pistorius says it was a normal evening at home for him and his girlfriend, Reeva Steenkamp, a quiet dinner, then TV and bed for him, and yoga for her. It seemed perfect.

"We were deeply in love and I could not be happier. I know she felt the same way. She had given me a present for Valentine's Day, but asked me only to open it the next day."

According to the affidavit, he and Reeva fell asleep. Then, suddenly, hours later, Pistorius jolted awake. His valentine celebration was about to take a deadly turn.

"I woke up, went on to the balcony to bring the fan in and closed the sliding doors, the blinds and the curtains. I heard a noise in the bathroom and realized that someone was in the bathroom. I felt a sense of terror rushing over me. There are no burglar bars across the bathroom window, and I knew that contractors who worked at my house had left the ladders outside. Although I did not have my prosthetic legs on, I have mobility on my stumps."

Pistorius says he was too afraid to turn on the light. "I grabbed my .9-millimeter pistol from underneath my bed." He screamed at the intruders to get out, he told the court, and made his way through the pitch dark to the bathroom.

"I realized that the intruder was in the toilet because the toilet door was closed and I did not see anyone in the bathroom. I heard movement inside the toilet. And then I fired shots at the toilet door and shouted to Reeva to phone the police." MARCIA CLARK, FORMER PROSECUTOR: To me the instinctive thing, you hear sounds in the bathroom, if only to say, hey, honey, did you hear that? You do that first before you move to the bathroom to fire shots. Hey, honey, did you hear that? You protect -- you stay here. I will go see what's going on. You stay here. I'm going to go check. But none of that happened.

Instead, he claims he jumped right out of bed, got his gun and fired right into the toilet.

KAYE: When the shooting stopped, Pistorius writes: "I moved backwards out of the bathroom, keeping my eyes on the bathroom entrance. Everything was pitch dark in the bedroom and I was still too scared to switch on a light. Reeva was not responding."

Pistorius made his way to the bed, where he says he thought he'd find Reeva. He writes: "When I reached the bed, I realized that Reeva was not in bed. That is when it dawned on me that it could have been Reeva who was in the toilet."

I returned to the bathroom calling her name. I tried to open the toilet door, but it was locked. I rushed back into the bedroom and opened the sliding door exiting on to the balcony and screamed for help.

(on camera): But other witnesses share a much different version of events. One says he heard nonstop fighting between 2:00 and 3:00 a.m. and an investigator told the court another witness heard gunshots, a woman screaming, then more gunshots.

(voice-over): By the time it was over, Reeva Steenkamp was fatally wounded behind the bathroom door. She had been struck three times, in the hip, elbow and in the head. Next, Pistorius says he put on his prosthetic legs and ran back to the bathroom.

When he couldn't kick the door open, he says he used his cricket bat to open the door to the toilet. There, he writes he found Reeva slumped over, but alive. Pistorius says he frantically made calls for help, first to his estate supervisor, then paramedics, all before picking up Reeva's bloody body.

As Pistorius tells it, "I battled to get her out of the toilet and pulled her into the bathroom." Then, he writes, he phoned Netcare for help and unlocked the front door.

According to the affidavit, Pistorius had been told not to wait for an ambulance, so he returned to the bathroom and picked Reeva up. "I carried her downstairs," he writes. "I tried to render the assistance to Reeva that I could, but she died in my arms."

It was over, and Oscar Pistorius was responsible.

ARNOLD PISTORIUS, UNCLE OF OSCAR PISTORIUS: He's in extreme shock. And so he's grieving and I don't expect him to get over it even soon. KAYE: Prosecutors say this was no mistake. They tell a tale of premeditated murder, a boyfriend fueled by rage after a long night of arguing, a woman vulnerable, Pistorius calculating an angle, taking aim at the toilet where Reeva Steenkamp was and firing.

CLARK: The defense is not going to dispute that he shot through the bathroom door. And they are not going to dispute that the angle of the bullets was what it was. They say the angle of bullets showed the trajectory was that it was downward and to the left, which the prosecution has indicated is significant because it looks as though he was aiming at someone on the toilet, as opposed to somebody just cowering or hiding in the bathroom itself.

KAYE: Still so many unanswered questions, such as how did Reeva enter the bathroom unnoticed? Pistorius' defense lawyer says his client believes she slipped into the bathroom when Pistorius first got up to close the balcony door.

And why would Reeva lock the door? Was she trying to protect herself from Pistorius or an intruder? Pistorius' defense team argues Reeva Steenkamp locked the door only because she heard Pistorius yelling at an intruder to leave. And what about the two bloodied cell phones inside the bathroom? How did they get there? So much evidence to unravel and an investigation far from over that may have been bungled from the start.

Pistorius' defense lawyer says his team found a bullet in the toilet that police had missed and it turns out the investigators entered Pistorius' home without wearing protective foot covers simply because they had run out of them.

HELEN MORRISON, FORENSIC PSYCHOLOGIST: By the time the investigators got there, the lawyer and the brother were already there. So that scene was heavily contaminated before the investigators could secure the scene itself.

One of the things is taking a look at what most investigators do is, what's the residue? What kind of hairs or fibers are there? Was any type of evidence disturbed? And so it's going to complicate their investigation in a fairly large way.

KAYE: An investigation that's already been complicated by celebrity, publicity and Oscar Pistorius' odd offering to the court about his girlfriend's last breath.


KAYE: In granting bail, about $112,000, by the way, the judge took care and about two hours to explain his decision. He barred cameras from court today so we only have audio as he laid out points of the law and raised questions of his own about each side, including this.


DESMOND NAIR, CHIEF MAGISTRATE: I have difficulty in appreciating why the accused did not ascertain the whereabouts of his girlfriend when he got off the bed.

I have difficulty also in coming to the terms with the fact that the accused did not seek to verify who exactly was in the toilet, when he could have asked. I also have difficulty in appreciating why the deceased would not have screamed back from the toilet. I have difficulty also with understanding why the deceased and the accused would not of like mind in those circumstances escaped through the bedroom door, then venture into the toilet.


KAYE: The judge did not consider those questions reason enough to deny bail, but if this case does go to trial, they will certainly come up again. I talked about it with Robyn Curnow, who has been covering this case from the very beginning.


KAYE: Robyn, such a dramatic bail hearing, take us inside. What was it like?

ROBYN CURNOW, CNN CORRESPONDENT: I think the word is claustrophobic.

I was in there a number of times through the hearing and it was a small courtroom, far too small for this kind of case. It was very hot. Often, we found ourselves wiping away beads of sweat, and then again this sort of palpable sense of tension that kept on building up and particularly when that magistrate made that final exhaustively long final judgment.

KAYE: Over the course of this case so far, we have seen many faces of Oscar Pistorius. We have seen him go from distraught and emotional to stoic and withdrawn. What was he like at the bail hearing?

CURNOW: There definitely is a sense that Oscar has withdrawn into himself. Whether this is a combination of shock, of exhaustion, of a mental state that's perhaps not entirely healthy at the moment, but this is a man who really I think is coming to terms with the fact that he did something absolutely terrible.

KAYE: Certainly a lot of attention paid to this case. You see the cameras in that courtroom every day. The media actually chased the car carrying Pistorius as it left the courthouse. Is that right?

CURNOW: Yes. You know what? I think that there's been such a media interest in this. The chasing, I think that was slightly disturbing because it looked like they were motorcycle -- motorcycle riders following him basically to the house where he's going to live.

So there was that sort of sense that a pack was hunting him. Whether that's right or not, obviously, you got have to ask, well, this is a man who has admitted to murdering his girlfriend on Valentine's Day. And there's a huge media interest. KAYE: Robyn, what's next for him then? He can't go home. He went back to his uncle's house after the bail hearing. What happens now?

CURNOW: In terms of what's next, he has got to prepare for a monumental, life-changing trial. He has got a very smart team of people around him. And I think they are going to be preparing him and talking him through this.

This is literally going to a day job. Whether he starts training again, that's also another question. Let's not forget Reeva. I think that's also -- the drama, all this chaos and all of these twists and turns and bombshells that we have seen in court. Just remember sitting quietly in a small seaside town called Port Elizabeth is a family that's broken as well.

KAYE: Absolutely. Robyn Curnow, thank you very much.


KAYE: Ahead, answers to the questions everyone is asking. Was bail justified? Does the defendant's account make any sense? What happens at trial and will it even make it there? The best legal and forensic experts around here to debate the case next.

And, later, the promising life cut short, remembering Reeva Steenkamp, A.C. 360, "Blade Runner: Murder or Mistake?" continues.


KAYE: The whole world is watching this case. Whether or not it weighed on the judge, Chief Magistrate Desmond Nair, is hard to say.

What's clear, though, is he explained his decision with great care and at great length. You heard him a moment ago in courtroom audio raising questions about the defense.

Here, he lays out certain challenges for the prosecution.


NAIR: We are dealing with circumstantial evidence. What would one expect? There are no other witnesses.

The only person who knows what happened there is the accused. Therefore, it is as a matter of cause that when you are dealing with circumstantial evidence, pieces of the puzzle need to be put together. And those pieces of the puzzle may not yet all be before me and of course the state obviously in the normal sequence of events would by the time that the state is ready or trial ready have more pieces of the puzzle.


KAYE: A lot to talk about starting with the drama in and around this bail hearing. Joining me, criminal defense attorney Mark Geragos. He's co- author of "Mistrial: An Inside Look at How the Criminal Justice System Works, and Sometimes Doesn't," also forensic scientist Lawrence Kobilinsky of the John Jay College of Criminal Justice, senior legal analyst Jeffrey Toobin, and University of Cape Town law professor Kelly Phelps.

Jeffrey, let me start with you on this.

The state had a real uphill climb, you have said, trying to show that Oscar Pistorius was a flight risk. So, were you surprised then that bail was granted?

JEFFREY TOOBIN, CNN SENIOR LEGAL ANALYST: Well, my understanding was extraordinary circumstances, which is the burden that Pistorius had to meet, is a tough burden.

But the judge, who did an extremely thorough job, focused a lot on the issue of was there really a risk of flight? And it was very hard for the prosecution to argue seriously that Oscar Pistorius was going to flee, without a passport, being such a celebrity, having a very conspicuous disability. The idea that he was going to flee just was implausible and I think that was the key to his getting bail.

KAYE: Mark, this may be the one thing you agree with Jeffrey on here. You had predicted this. You also said that he would be granted bail.


I thought that the magistrate telegraphed it early on in this hearing. And I think the big problem for the prosecution is, is they overplayed their hand. If they had gone in and handled this differently, they might have been able to get this magistrate not to give him bail. But I just think that they misplayed this entire hearing.

Number one, saying that -- so overstating the flight risk and coming in with this idea that somehow he has got a house here, he has got accounts there, and then when he's cross-examined on it and they say, where did you hear about that or where's your evidence of the house, and he says, well, I don't know, I heard it somewhere, that's not the kind of stuff that's going to go over well with the average magistrate.

I thought that given all of that -- and he may be the fastest human or one of the fastest humans in the world, but he's never going to escape the tabloid media on this case.

KAYE: Kelly, let me bring you in.

You're an expert in South African law. Did anything about this ruling surprise you? The magistrate, boy, he really took a long, circuitous route before even announcing his ruling. We were all waiting there with bated breath. But is an hour-and-45-minute ruling par for the course in the legal system there? KELLY PHELPS, LAW PROFESSOR, UNIVERSITY OF CAPE TOWN: It's certainly not par for the course at bail proceedings. It was an exceptionally long bail decision that he rendered.

And it didn't surprise me, though, because I think he knew how much was at stake in terms of this decision and just how controversial it was going to be. So he was really demonstrating just what a considered decision he had made and that he had applied his mind fully to all of the arguments that were raised by both parties in reaching his decision.

And I think his decision is the correct decision and defensible.

KAYE: And the bail itself, a little more than $100,000, sounds low, certainly in terms of the American legal system. What do you make of that?

PHELPS: Well, in South African terms, it's a million rand, which is actually a fortune of money for most South Africans. It certainly wouldn't be considered a low amount to place from a local perspective.

KAYE: Larry, the magistrate really took the lead detective to task on how he collected evidence and how his team worked. That detective of course has been removed from the case. How big of a setback do you think that is for the prosecution? In terms of evidence, how much will this case depend on forensics?

DR. LAWRENCE KOBILINSKY, PROFESSOR OF FORENSIC SCIENCE, JOHN JAY COLLEGE OF CRIMINAL JUSTICE: Well, there's no question in my mind this case will be resolved by analysis of forensic evidence.

And we will then be able to tell whether the evidence is consistent with the affidavit of Mr. Pistorius or not. And that will talk to his credibility. I think the crime scene work is very crucial because you have to start off with pristine evidence to analyze it and secure the information that you're looking for.

And the fact of the matter is that people are supposed to wear booties on their shoes to protect the scene from contamination.

KAYE: And they didn't. They said they simply ran out of them.


GERAGOS: Well, not only didn't, but the removal of the guy who was first on the scene, the lead detective, he's out of there now. The defense is going to have the people that they brought in able to testify.

They are the ones who discovered the shell in the toilet area that was not picked up. They are the ones who are going to look like, hey, we did this right. This is the other guys who were a bunch of bumbling idiots.

TOOBIN: But even though there were mistakes made, Larry, don't you think there's enough evidence that we will know a lot more about how this crime unfolded when this case to trial?


KOBILINSKY: No question. No question.

The botched crime scene is certainly not good for the prosecution, but it's not fatal to the prosecution's case. And I think when you look at all the evidence, which we haven't heard about yet, there's a lot we don't know. We don't know the toxicology report. We don't know the autopsy.

But just from what we do know already, the ballistics evidence, the spatter evidence on a number of items in the bathroom, this is going to be very telling.

KAYE: Let me ask you about the case, though, so far, Mark.

As a defense attorney, what really stood out to you? Are there any weaknesses in the defense's case?

GERAGOS: Yes, there's always going to be weaknesses in the defense's case.

TOOBIN: Especially when you have shot someone dead four times.

GERAGOS: Four times.

TOOBIN: That does have a problem with the defense case.


KAYE: Without checking to see if she was out of the bed or not.


GERAGOS: I understand that. Those are problems.

But I will tell you that this is a defense lawyer's dream in terms of the way the prosecution has brought this up. It's not often that you get in the second day of your bail hearing, all of a sudden, it's revealed that the lead detective is facing seven attempted murder counts.

That is -- you just say, thank you, lord. That is unbelievable. Then you find out in addition to that, he hasn't even looked at the item that he has floated out there as an urban legend that it's testosterone, at least trying to create this roid rage.


GERAGOS: And not only -- he didn't even read the whole word and then he didn't test it. We don't have the test results yet.

Those kinds of things, I think, get into the ether. And those become irreparable for the prosecution, for them to get over it. But we don't have a jury. KAYE: Jeffrey Toobin, Lawrence Kobilinsky, Mark Geragos, and Kelly Phelps, stick around.

We want to look ahead and talk about what's next in this case after this dramatic week.

Plus, Oscar Pistorius is recognized around the world and revered by his fans -- coming up, how he became a hero to so many and what you may not know about his past.

Later, all the plans Reeva Steenkamp had for her future died with her. For her family, it's an incomprehensible loss. You will hear from her brother and others when A.C. 360, "Blade Runner: Murder or Mistake?" continues.


KAYE: We're back, ANDERSON COOPER 360, "Blade Runner: Murder or Mistake?"

Oscar Pistorius, the Blade Runner, out on bail, due back in court June 4.

I want to talk more about what a trial might look like and why it may never take place.

Back with the panel, Kelly Phelps, Larry Kobilinsky, Jeffrey Toobin, and Mark Geragos.

GERAGOS: All of this kind of paranoia, feeling vulnerable, shooting and going off half-cocked.

KAYE: It now goes to a judge. There's no jury system there in South Africa. You say it has a lot to do with the makeup of society in your country.

Briefly, though, help us understand how judges are schooled to deal with cases without the aid of a jury.

PHELPS: In South Africa, we believe that judges spend their entire working lives being immersed in the law and trained in the law and schooled towards being objective in applying their minds to the facts and the law in a neutral way, and that is the safeguard for justice.

We also -- every aspect of our legal system is imbued with our Constitution and our constitutional law. And the Constitution itself really was a very collaborative process that is an expression of the people of South Africa. And in that respect, the laypeople do have a voice in the law and an influence in the law, but not in terms of deciding individual cases.

KAYE: Mark, as you and I talked about, the magistrate made a point of commending Pistorius for offering this very, very complete and thorough affidavit, his version of the events for the record. He even said that it helped him in making his decision to grant him bail. But couldn't that come back to haunt him?

GERAGOS: Absolutely. But I think that they made the calculated decision. They said this case is infinitely better if he's out and not in for a multitude of reasons. And from the lawyer's standpoint, I can't tell you how important it is to have the client out in terms of preparing a case like this, one of these supersized cases. No. 1.

And No. 2, I think that they felt strongly that they had been out to that scene, even though they haven't, I assume, gone through all of the expert forensic analysis they're going to do. I think they probably took a look at that door and they've got an idea as to what the ballistics are going to come back at as to whether or not he was wearing a prosthesis, legs or anything of that nature. I think that they understand whether or not somebody, as it came out, could have heard screaming or not heard screaming.

So there is a certain amount of that that is probably not going to come back to bite him. There are other things that are problematic if it comes back other words. The toxicology, for instance.

TOOBIN: It's true that there are problems with the prosecution's case. There are problems with the defense case, that's for sure here.

Today it looks like it cries out for a plea bargain. South Africa, as I understand it, has a very active plea bargaining culture, as do we in the United States. There is culpable homicide out there as a possible compromise from premeditated murder.

And, given the fact that everybody agrees that Pistorius filed the -- fired the shots that caused the fatal injuries, it just seems to me that, now that he's out, going to be out on bail, the preparations could last a long, long time. I would not be at all surprised to see this case end in a plea.

GERAGOS: And the...

KAYE: So no trial?

GERAGOS: Right, no trial. Interestingly enough, today or the day before when he made the argument, the defense lawyer, he argued that this is a culpable homicide. So that's almost a telegraphing of, look, this might be something that is acceptable. This may be somewhere where this case could end up.

KAYE: Larry, as a forensics expert, I mean, he really, in his affidavit in his version, it can serve as a road map for someone like yourself.

KOBILINSKY: It was a terrible mistake to write a detailed affidavit. The burden is on the prosecution, not on the defense. He had to say something, granted, but you don't give such great detail, because every single part of that affidavit can be verified or not verified by the evidence. The evidence doesn't lie. It's a matter of interpreting it.

But clearly, if he says he was in one position, and the evidence says something different, there goes his credibility.

TOOBIN: Larry, I thought exactly the same thing when I read the affidavit. And -- but Mark has a point here. That affidavit turned out to be very important in getting him bail.

KAYE: But that's not the trial.

TOOBIN: It changes the leverage in the case dramatically.

GERAGOS: Right, exactly.

TOOBIN: I'm right because I agree with you.

GERAGOS: Changed the landscape.

KAYE: What do you think is going to be the most important piece of forensic evidence?

KOBILINSKY: I would think that the ballistics evidence would be crucial here.

KAYE: The angle?

KOBILINSKY: The -- the angle. The difference in the story has to do with whether he was wearing his prosthetic legs or not. And that would change his height. It would change the position of the gun.

There's a lot we can tell with forensics. We can talk about the distance between the muzzle and the door. We can look at the victim. So we have a lot of information about bullet trajectories. So if his story is inconsistent or the angles and the height, if it doesn't connect with what he said, he is in deep, deep trouble.

KAYE: Right. Because in the affidavit he said his put the prosthetics on after the shooting.

TOOBIN: He also -- the judge raised a very interesting issue that I think is unresolved at this point. Part of the prosecution theory, it appears, is that she brought her phones into the bathroom because she was scared. She wanted to call for help. But the judge said there was no evidence of whether she did, in fact, call for help.

KAYE: They never checked the cell phones.

TOOBIN: And they never checked the cell phones. But someone will. And that will be significant.

KOBILINSKY: What's interesting, Jeff, is one of the phones has blood spatter, the other doesn't. That spatter, that pattern is very crucial. Is it blowback from the gun? Is that -- is that what we're talking about? Or is -- did somebody touch it with a transfer of blood? It's crucial to know what kind of pattern.

KAYE: So two key statements from the defense, Mark. One is that Oscar Pistorius says that his girlfriend had slipped into the bathroom while he was closing the balcony door. That's why he didn't know that she wasn't in the bed.

And that also that she had locked the bathroom door only because she had heard him yelling that there was an intruder in the home. How much weight do those arguments have?

GERAGOS: I don't know that those are going to be the -- the kind of thing that this case turns on. I think, whether he was wearing the -- whether he was on his stumps or he had the prosthesis, because all of this sort of paranoia, feeling vulnerable, shooting and going off half-coked is more plausible if he does not have on his legs.

KAYE: Well, we'll continue to watch it, no doubt. We'll see if it goes to trial or not. Jeffrey Toobin, Larry Kobilinsky, Mark Geragos, Kelly Phelps, thank you all very much.

This week we've seen Oscar Pistorius in a new light. A murder suspect in a tragic killing. Until now, he was best known as an inspiring athlete who accomplished what no one had before him. How he got from there to here, ahead.


KAYE: Many of us watched Oscar Pistorius make history at the London Olympics: a double amputee athlete who changed the way the world sees disabilities. Before he reached the Olympics, he made his name at the Paralympics. That's where Blake Leeper met him a few years back. Here's what he told me about the Blade Runner when we talked earlier.


BLAKE LEEPER, PARALYMPICS COMPETITOR: I'd compete alongside him. He was a real big inspiration to me. I can remember a time he went out of his way to help me out and give me insight on a lot of things. I was new to running and he's almost a veteran to the track and field world. So he gave me a lot of information.


KAYE: Other friends of Pistorius and Steenkamp have been speaking out this week, as well. Kevin Lerena says he last saw the couple last month.


KEVIN LERENA, FRIEND: As a person, Oscar was very loving, happy, joyful person. By no means was he either misbehaving or reckless or wild in my company. He was always -- he knew how to have fun. Like I said, he was a good guy; could have fun with his mates. And never was he reckless or never in my company aggressive towards anyone.

When I saw them together in Capetown, they really were in love. Oscar was a very loving person, as well as Reeva. So by no means did I think their relationship was in jeopardy.

(END VIDEO CLIP) KAYE: Tonight those closest to Pistorius, just like those of us who have never met him, are trying to wrap their heads around what's happened here. It's an extraordinary turn in a story that has never been routine.


KAYE (voice-over): Oscar Pistorius was never like everybody else.

OSCAR PISTORIUS, OLYMPIC ATHLETE: I was missing -- missing fibula, which is the back bone in your leg. The is the fibula.

KAYE: He was born that way and had both legs amputated at the knee before his first birthday.

PISTORIUS: I grew up in a family where disability was never an issue. We didn't really speak about my disability. Not because it was a topic that was taboo or that we thought there was a serious (UNINTELLIGIBLE). That's the mentality that I've had.

KAYE: A mentality that drove him to succeed: to walk by 17 months, to overcome the pain of his parents' divorce and later the grief of losing his mother. To race and compete.

PISTORIUS: You know, sports have always been a big part of my life. We grew up in South Africa where most kids really enjoy the outdoors. I was never an academic so I've had to find something where I enjoyed. And I followed sports, and from a young age, my mother said to us, sports aren't about being the best, but it's about giving your best.

KAYE: When he smashed his knee playing rugby at 16, Oscar Pistorius took up track to help him heal, a decision that would change his life. Within the year, he won his first gold at the Paralympic games in Athens, using flexible prosthetics called cheetah blades, earning him the nickname "the Blade Runner."

PISTORIUS: You can see the sense of gravity. If it doesn't have a heel, it's pretty difficult to balance on. And when you're wearing them, if you're standing still, you kind of have to put your foot down the whole time.

KAYE: Pistorius was becoming a living legend, a hero in a battered nation, a media darling. His story captured worldwide attention.

His prosthetics were inspiring to many. But controversial to others.

PISTORIUS: I've always been a big advocate for fair play. When it comes to the prosthetic legs that I use, they've been made since 1996, and they've made other 30,000 pairs. And just from a practical point of view, there have never been athletes that have run close to the times I'm running on the 400, compared to their times (ph). KAYE: They were deemed an advantage to him, but it didn't stop him from competing.

PISTORIUS: Since I started running in 2004, most of my races have been races against able-body athlete athletes. We just have a lot more races every season.

In 2007, I started running internationally, in the Everglades (ph) circuit. I missed the Olympics in '08 by a quarter of a second. I said if I get this opportunity again, I definitely don't want to miss it.

KAYE: That opportunity came at the 2012 London Olympics. Pistorius caused a sensation with his appearance at the games. To some, a symbol of triumph over adversity.

And his star kept rising. Pistorius picked up prime sponsorships from major brands like Nike.

PISTORIUS: I've got that addiction to perfection when I'm off the track, as well.

KAYE: Who featured him in this 2011 ad with the slogan "I am the bullet in the chamber."

PISTORIUS: This is my weapon. This is how I fight.

KAYE: Now Nike is suspending their relationship with him.

Pistorius' fame and success made him a role model for all people.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: He's done magnificently well, and I think everybody is proud of him.

PISTORIUS: Being an international sportsman, there's a lot of responsibility that comes with it. Remembering that there are kids out there, especially, that look up to you is definitely something that you need to keep in the back of your mind.

KAYE: Pistorius had his fans but also had his critics.

He was known for having a quick temper, but friends and family say that didn't mean he would ever hurt anyone, especially not his girlfriend, Reeva Steenkamp.

KEVIN LERENA, FRIEND OF OSCAR: They were in love. Oscar was a very loving person as well as Reeva. So by no means did I think their relationship was in jeopardy. They were very loving. And like I said, it's very sad because it was a big shock to us to hear what happened.

KAYE: Pistorius used to say his life was a blessing. He was able to overcome his disability and prove himself on the field over and over again until there was no doubt about his abilities. Whether he can prove himself again is the question.


KAYE: Coming up, friends and family try to cope with the loss of Reeva Steenkamp. We'll take a closer look at who Reeva was and hear from her family members when our special hour continues.


KAYE: It is a riveting drama that's playing out in a courtroom in South Africa where Oscar Pistorius is accused of murdering his girlfriend.

But for the family and friends of Reeva Steenkamp, the story is one of terrible loss and pain. By all accounts, Reeva Steenkamp was a remarkable young woman. Beautiful, yes, and also smart, ambitious and funny.

These are pictures from a photo shoot and interview that Reeva did with Britain's "Heat" magazine one week before her death. In the interview, Reeva said she and Oscar were trying to keep their relationship out of the spotlight but that she absolutely adored, respected and admired him.

Of her new relationship with Pistorius, she said, quote, "We haven't been talking to the media, because I don't want it to get tainted. I don't want anything coming in the way of his career. He's such an amazing athlete."

We've been hearing from Reeva's family members as they grapple with the loss and look for the truth about what happened to her. Here's what Reeva's brother, Adam Steenkamp, and cousin, Kim Martin, had to say.


KIM MARTIN, COUSIN: For me, it's very, very hard to think about Reeva dying in a violent way. And I don't want to go to the place where I have to imagine her being frightened and scared and running for her life. That for me is very, very difficult.

I have lots of questions, lots and lots of questions. But I believe that, when the trial starts, the truth is going to come out, and we're going to get to the bottom of this.

ADAM STEENKAMP, BROTHER (via phone): At a time like this when people are grieving, I think it's hard to keep a clear mind on anything. And with the added pressure and the media coverage and the interest, you know, from the world looking into this story, it's a rather unnatural situation.

So I suppose I would agree with everyone slipping from one side to the other. We just don't know. All that we want is we want to know the truth what the truth is. And I think that's what everyone else would like, as well, you know. To be able to make something of this, to be able to deal with this and have something positive come out of it.


KAYE: Now for a closer look at who Reeva Steenkamp was, here's Gary Tuchman.


GARY TUCHMAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Beautiful, smart, Reeva Steenkamp had a big future ahead of her. She had worked as a paralegal but was gaining international fame as a world-class model.

She had come a long way from the sleepy seaside town where she grew up to the bright lights and big city of Johannesburg, South Africa, where she was shot to death by Oscar Pistorius. To those who loved her, it's all inconceivable.

MARTIN: Reeva is not supposed to be dead. Reeva had her whole life ahead of her. She was going to be doing great things.

TUCHMAN: But for Reeva Steenkamp, great things were already happening. In 2011 and 2012, she was ranked by South Africa's version of "FHM" magazine as one of the 100 sexiest women in the world. Hagan Engler was the editor.

HAGEN ENGLER, EDITOR: She was a bikini model, beautiful, gorgeous girl, but she had a sort of like a wicked sense of humor, you know. So she got it and she kind of understood the industry that she was in. And like really intelligent. So always fun to work with.

TUCHMAN: When she started dating Pistorius, a South African power couple was born.

REEVE STEENKAMP, MODEL: Let's see what's behind door No. 1.

TUCHMAN: And in 2013 Reeva was making her reality television debut on a program called "Tropica Island of Treasure 5," which was shot in Jamaica.

STEENKAMP: My name is Reeva and I'm a model. And we're in Jamaica this year. Be jealous. You can be jealous.

TUCHMAN: The first episode of the show still aired this week in Reeva's honor, producers say, just days before her funeral. A private ceremony attended by more than 100 friends and relatives including her father, Barry, her mother, June, and her Uncle Mike.

MIKE STEENKAMP, UNCLE: We are all here today as a family. There's only one thing missing and that's Reeva.

A. STEENKAMP: There's a space missing.

TUCHMAN: Adam Steenkamp is Reeva's brother.

A. STEENKAMP: We're going to keep all the positive things that we remember and know about my sister, and we will try and continue with the things that she tried to make better. We'll miss her. TUCHMAN: The family is grief-stricken and bewildered. Reeva's mother, June, telling the local paper, "All we want are answers, answers as to why this had to happen. Why our beautiful daughter had to die like this."

As it turned out, Reeva was voted off the reality show, but if she was sad, it didn't show. Instead she left with warm, lovely thoughts for all those she'd met on the island.

STEENKAMP: You literally fall in love with Jamaica. You fall in love with being in love, with love. It's one love.

I'm going home with sort of a sweet taste in my mouth. I don't have any regrets. I don't have any. I'll take home with me so many amazing memories and things that are in here that I'll treasure forever. I'm going to miss you all so much. I love you very, very much.



KAYE: Thank you for watching this special edition of 360, "Blade Runner: Murder or Mistake."