The trial for Oscar Pistorius starts this coming week. I was in the US during the televised events of the OJ Simpson murder case and I was here in South Africa last Valentine’s Day when the news broke of the death of Reeva Steenkamp.
These are both cases of high profile sports celebrities charged with violent murders. Both men were accused of murdering their partners and both crimes occurred at their residence.
The trial for OJ Simpson was highly publicized at the time. It was the first case that I can remember to be shown on TV for the complete duration of the trial and it went on for 8 months. People from all walks of life were interested in the outcome. The Pistorius trial is also going to televised. There is an On Demand channel dedicated to nothing but the trial starting this March.
The press surrounding both trials has tried to paint a picture of both of these men. For the OJ case, once he was televised being chased by the police in his white Ford Bronco, he was pretty much condemned. He was painted in a dim light and was guilty according to the media. Regarding Pistorius, the media has tried to show him as either a gun fanatic with tendencies of violent behaviour or someone who was paranoid at night in his home and someone who would never hurt his partner.
It’s not fair that celebrities or sports heroes can’t have privacy in their trials. People are fascinated by these types of trials and the media creates a frenzy. The media are only interested in high profile cases.
OJ Simpson was not convicted as there was not enough strong evidence for the jury to convict him. DNA evidence and circumstantial evidence made up the majority of the case. Will this be similar for the Pistorius case? We will have to wait and see. The judge overseeing his case will control when the media coverage begins and ends. But will his trial be fair? The media and general public after the outcome of the Simpson case thought he must have been guilty, so the court must have stuffed it up. People still talk about the outcome of the case today14 years later.