Judge Napolitano on How the Oscar Pistorius Murder Trial Will Go Without a Jury
Judge Andrew Napolitano weighed in on America's Newsroom this morning after a South African judge ruled that double amputee Olympic sprinter Oscar Pistorius can go free on bail until his murder trial in the shooting death of his girlfriend, Reeva Steenkamp.
(Watch Megyn Kelly's analysis, here.)
Chief Magistrate Desmond Nair
said he concluded that Pistorius is not a flight risk and not likely to commit further crimes if he is allowed to leave police custody.
The judge ordered Pistorius to surrender his passport and firearms, and avoid his home and all witnesses in the case. His bail was set at 1 million South African rand, which is about $113,000. Nair scheduled the murder trial to begin June 4.
Authorities accuse Pistorius of premeditated murder in the Valentine’s Day attack in his Pretoria home. Steenkamp was fatally shot through a bathroom door. Pistorius claims the shooting was accidental and that he fired through the door thinking an intruder had entered the house.
The ruling comes one day after the bombshell revelation that the lead detective in the case, Hilton Botha, is facing attempted murder charges for a 2011 shooting incident.
Judge Napolitano said it's "not surprising" that Pistorius will be allowed to go free on bail, but he said the factor that really changes the case is that the murder trial will be in front of a judge, not a jury. He said the government will have a better chance of proving its case beyond a reasonable doubt before a judge than in front of jurors.
"My take is that he's in a lot of hot water and the case against him is a strong one, and the types of things that sway juries to vote 'not guilty' are not likely to be present in this case. A professional jurist is less likely to discredit the state's case because one of its witnesses has lied or has a criminal past on his own than a jury would. If O.J. (Simpson) had been been tried before a single professional jurist, a full-time judge, rather than a jury of his peers ... I think he would have been convicted," said Napolitano
Watch Judge Napolitano's thoughts on the case: