When last we heard from accused murderer and Olympic track star Oscar Pistorius, he was living at his Uncle Arnold’s house in Praetoria, losing endorsement deals, and probably puzzling over the rumor that Ryan Gosling was going to portray him in a far-too-soon true-crime biopic. Tasteless Academy Award puns would almost certainly abound. Now, more than three months after the double amputee sprinter shot and killed girlfriend Reeva Steenkamp, Pistorius’ uncle has made what was probably a misguided decision to try and generate some public sympathy for his tortured nephew in an exclusive interview with CNN.
The timing isn’t accidental — Pistorius faces a court hearing on Tuesday for the February 14th killing of Steenkamp. Thus far, Pistorius has held to the claim that he mistook his girlfriend for an intruder and shot her accidentally. The state, however, has charged him with murder. Since being granted bail late in February, stories have surfaced about how tormented Pistorius has been over his role in Steenkamp’s death, but Arnold Pistorius offered an even more abject assessment of his nephew’s state of mind: Oscar is basically living a Raskolnikov nightmare of grief.
In an interview with CNN’s Robyn Curnow, Arnold explained that Oscar’s grief was “unthinkable,” adding this grim account of the Olympic star’s life post-shooting:
He's got photos in his room, photos all over the place. He's housebound, you know. He doesn't go out in public places.
What can you say if the person you love the most dies, and you were the instrument? How would you feel? It's unthinkable.
That does sound like a horrible state of mind, but what’s the point of this account of Pistorius’ grief-stricken existence? His trial may still be a long way off as state prosecutors may postpone the case to conduct further investigations, and his appearance in court on Tuesday will, according to CNN, be fairly brief. Like so many high-profile murder trials, the details of Steenkamp’s death are many and lurid, including rumors of a bloodied cricket bat, forensic missteps, steroid use, and minor conspiracy theories. His guilt is being determined in the court of public opinion, and the sensational violence surrounding Steenkamp’s death has made it difficult to cast Pistorius as a sympathetic victim of mistaken identity, but that’s what he has to be if he hopes for a favorable verdict. Uncle Arnold, it would seem, is doing a lot of that unenviable character-building groundwork for his nephew.
Image via AP, Themla Hadebe