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Oscar Pistorius indicted on charges of murder

Jay Busbee
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Oscar Pistorius in an August photograph. (Getty Images)

A South African court has indicted Olympian Oscar Pistorius on charges of murder and possession of illegal ammunition stemming from the death of his girlfriend, Reeva Steenkamp, earlier this year. Pistorius' trial is scheduled to begin on March 3, 2014.

Pistorius was present in Pretoria Magistrate Court for the hearing, in which prosecutors gave indications of how they will pursue the case. Steenkamp, who would have turned 30 on the day of the indictment, died in the bathroom of the couple's home from multiple gunshot wounds on Valentine's Day. Prosecutors charged that Pistorius shot her through the bathroom door "with the intention to kill a person."

Pistorius has said that Steenkamp's death was a case of mistaken identity, and that he thought an intruder was in his home.

The prosecution will seek to dispel that defense. "Some of the state witnesses heard a woman scream, followed by moments of silence, then heard gunshots and then more screaming," according to the 11-page indictment. Pistorius fired four times, hitting Steenkamp with three of the shots. While the prosecution never used the word "premeditated" in the indictment, comments afterward suggested that the prosecution will pursue a premeditation approach.

The charge of illegal possession of ammunition relates to improperly licensed .38 caliber bullets found in Pistorius' home. The weapon used in Steenkamp's death was a properly licensed 9mm pistol.

The case now goes before a judge in North Gauteng High Court in Pretoria, as South Africa does not have trial by jury. Pistorius faces a minimum of 25 years in prison if convicted. South Africa has no death penalty.

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