Oscar Pistorius Statement Analysis
by Kaaryn Gough
Following is a transcript of the central section of Oscar Pistorius's defence affidavit, read out by the athlete's lawyer to the judge in the Pretoria courtroom during his bail hearing:
"After Reeva finished her yoga exercises she got into bed and we both fell asleep. I am acutely aware of violent crime being committed by intruders entering homes with a view to commit crime, including violent crime. I have received death threats before. I have also been a victim of violence and of burglaries before. For that reason I kept my firearm, a 9mm Parabellum, underneath my bed when I went to bed at night.
"During the early morning hours of 14 February 2013, I woke up, went onto 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 realised that someone was in the bathroom.
Change of language from “intruders” to “someone”. It is important to note when a person’s Personal Dictionary changes. People don’t change their language arbitrarily. People use very specific words and are consistent with their language as long as their relationship/experience with the item/person remains the same. A change in language is expected when the relationship/experience with the item/person changes. The change of language from “intruders” to “someone” at this point in the story, tells us that the subject viewed who ever was in the bathroom differently than from those ‘entering homes with a view to commit crime.’ “someone” is neutral and could be anyone, friend or foe, and the use of it at this point in the story tells us that the subject did not consider the “someone” in the bathroom to be an “intruder”.
Also note: “someone” is singular. The subject believed only one person 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. I believed that someone had entered my house. I was too scared to switch a light on.
“someone”—the subject’s language tells us that he still does not consider the person to be an intruder.
"I grabbed my 9mm pistol from underneath my bed. On my way to the bathroom I screamed words to the effect for him/them to get out of my house and for Reeva to phone the police. It was pitch dark in the bedroom and I thought Reeva was in bed.
“On my way to the bathroom…”—not “as I approached the bathroom…”. “On my way…” is too casual considering the circumstances.
“words to the effect…” – He’s not committing to what he said. The “effect” is more important, which was to “get out of my house”.
Note: He does not include that he informs the someone that he has a gun. Since he doesn’t say this, we cannot assume that he did. One would expect when a person wants to gain control in a situation, he/she would use this information as leverage. It would be an important point in a story that the someone was “warned” that a gun was present. Why doesn’t the subject say this?
Also, if the subject screamed for the someone to get out of his house, this demonstrates that the subject had made the decision to allow the someone in the bathroom to leave of his own accord. In order to do that, the someone would have to open the toilet door in order to exit the house (Keep this in mind for later)*. Again, as part of his efforts to get the someone to leave, one would think that mentioning “I have a gun” would help to prompt the someone to leave.
"I noticed that the bathroom window was open. I realised that the intruder/s was/were in the toilet because the toilet door was closed and I did not see anyone in the bathroom. I heard movement inside the toilet. The toilet is inside the bathroom and has a separate door.
“Intruder/s”—change from “someone” as said earlier. The change follows the fact that the subject noticed the bathroom window was open. The question still remains, why did the subject originally consider the person in the bathroom to be “someone” but now considers them an “intruder” at this point?. The subject’s relationship with the someone in the toilet has changed.
“I realised that the intruder/s was/were in the toilet because the toilet door was closed and I did not see anyone in the bathroom. I heard movement inside the toilet. The toilet is inside the bathroom and has a separate door.”— The events within a story should be told in the order of how the subject experienced them. Note the order here. The subject realized the intruder/s were in the toilet before he did not see anyone in the bathroom and before he heard movement inside the toilet.
"It filled me with horror and fear of an intruder or intruders being inside the toilet. I thought he or they must have entered through the unprotected window. As I did not have my prosthetic legs on and felt extremely vulnerable, I knew I had to protect Reeva and myself. I believed that when the intruder/s came out of the toilet we would be in grave danger. I felt trapped as my bedroom door was locked and I have limited mobility on my stumps.
“I believed that when the intruder/s came out of the toilet we would be in grave danger.”—not “if the intruders came out…”. The subject was certain the intruders would come out. How did he know this?
“I believed that when the intruder/s came out of the toilet we would be in grave danger.”—“grave” provides the reasoning behind firing the gun. However, there is a conflict in thinking and logic at this point.
Recall earlier note in my analysis at the (*)—the subject claimed he screamed for he/them to get out of his house. This part of the story happened just moments before he believed that when the intruder/s came out of the toilet, that he and Reeva would be in grave danger. In effect, he’s telling us that he was willing to allow the intruder/s to come out in order for them to get out at the same time, making the decision that when he/they come out, “we would be in grave danger”. In other words, he was telling them to get out at the same time he was preparing to fire his gun.
“I knew I had to protect Reeva and myself.”—not “us”. He separates himself from Reeva. However, he does place Reeva first, indicating Reeva was more important than “myself”.
“we”—This is the last time the subject uses this pronoun.
“I felt trapped…”—not, “I was trapped”. “felt” describes an emotional state rather than an actual physical one, and yet he uses physical reasons (my bedroom door was locked…) to explain why he felt trapped. Given the subject uses “I” and the past tense, he is committing to this statement and it is likely true—he felt trapped. But trapped how?
“I felt trapped…”—not “we were trapped”. There was no “we” at this point.
"I fired shots at the toilet door and shouted to Reeva to phone the police. She did not respond and 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. When I reached the bed, I realised 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 onto the balcony and screamed for help.
Again, change of language from “screamed” to “shouted”. The subject first uses “screamed” when describing how he communicated with the “him/them” in the bathroom and in his communication to Reeva for her to call the police for the first time. However, after he fired shots at the toilet door, his language changed to “shouted” in his communication to Reeva for her to call the police. Why the change? What had changed for him in his experience with Reeva? He had fired shots at the toilet door.
One should note—“screamed” indicates an extreme emotional state and a very loud projection of voice, whereas “shouted” does not necessarily include an emotional state. One can shout simply because of distance or an impediment, such as a door, being between the two. The projection of voice is not as great as a scream.
Also note he included that “She did not respond.” after his second command to Reeva to call the police. One should wonder why he did not say that she had not responded the first time when he had “screamed” at her to call the police. Since he does not say it, we can not assume it happened. Therefore, we can only assume Reeva did not respond when the subject “shouted” to Reeva.
Change of language from “shouted” to “screamed”. Again, the language changed at this point of the story. However, given the events within the story, the change can be explained, making it “justified”. The word “screamed” indicates a highly emotional audio response. Generally, screaming is connected with extreme emotions such as fear, anger, joy. With all three emotions, it’s possible to “scream”