PRETORIA, South Africa — Oscar Pistorius' lawyers have wrapped up their case, meaning there will soon be a verdict in the lengthy murder trial of the South African double-amputee sprinter.
The court adjourned Tuesday until Aug. 7, at which time final arguments will be heard from both sides. Judge Thokozile Masipa will then adjourn to consider her verdict with help from two legal assessors, since South Africa does not have the jury system.
Pistorius denies intentionally killing girlfriend Reeva Steenkamp at his home in the early hours of Valentine's Day 2013, and says that he mistook her for an intruder. The prosecution argues that he shot her dead after an argument.
The trial, which began March 3, has attracted worldwide attention — read, media circus — and was the first in South Africa to be broadcast live on television. All this, combined with Pistorius' fame as the first disabled athlete to compete in the Olympics, resulted in an intense, often strange atmosphere both inside North Gauteng High Court's courtroom GD and outside on the streets of downtown Pretoria.
Let's revisit five of the more surreal moments:
1. Balloon lady
(Mujahid Safodien/AFP/Getty Images)
Pistorius, throughout his murder trial, has drawn support from a band of mostly middle-aged women supporters known as the Pistorians. Active on Twitter, some have also visited the court to show their admiration of Pistorius in person.
Take, for example, the woman who one morning stood waiting for Pistorius with a bunch of white balloons — each inscribed with "Oscar" — only to release them with the Blade Runner arrived (she drew the ire of press photographers for ruining their shot). Others came bearing flowers — always for Pistorius, never for Steenkamp's grieving mother, who was often in the courtroom.
(Mujahid Safodien/AFP/Getty Images)
2. Roger Dixon and the leg
(Themba Hadebe/AFP/Getty Images)
It made for a strange TV moment: Roger Dixon, an expert witness for the defense, gesticulating while holding Pistorius' prosthetic leg complete with dirty athletic sock. He really should have put it down, but as with other aspects of Dixon's performance on the witness stand (he was demolished by lead prosecutor Gerrie Nel), things didn't go exactly to plan. Images of Dixon waving around the leg bordered on the ridiculous.
3. Pistorius rap
The huge number of journalists attending Pistorius's trial every day also drew the fame seekers. A group of South African hip-hop artists put on a performance outside the court one day, with a song containing these masterful lyrics: "Who's Oscar Pistorius? What happened in the bedroom? What happened in the bathroom? Did she diss you ’bout your legs?” “Was it an argument about his disability?… Did he really love her?” Not surprisingly, this unscheduled live show at the Pretoria High Court didn't prove to be their big break.
4. The bucket
(Kim Ludbrook/Getty Images)
Pistorius' strong physical responses to gory evidence at the trial were particularly surreal for those sitting in the courtroom. His tendency to vomit during graphic testimony challenged anyone within earshot who had a sensitive gag reflex — and led to a plastic bucket being stationed in the dock.
5. The door
(Antoine de Ras/AFP/Getty Images)
Near the start of the trial, a reconstruction of the toilet cubicle where Pistorius shot Steenkamp appeared in the courtroom — complete with the actual door through which he fired four bullets. This set-up remained in the courtroom throughout he trial, facilitating awkward demonstrations, for example when paunchy police forensic expert Colonel Johannes Vermeulen demonstrated how he thought Pistorius would have broken down the bathroom door with a cricket bat. Whither the courtroom toilet cubicle now that the trial is over?