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Judge Delays Pistorius Trial Over Assessor Sickness

A judge has delayed the trial of Oscar Pistorius, the former Olympic athlete accused of murdering his girlfriend, after a court official fell sick.
Posted at 8:49 PM, Mar 28, 2014

​South African track star Oscar Pistorius was all set to take the stand Friday to defend himself in the murder trial of his former girlfriend Reeva Steenkamp. But an unexpected delay brought the trial to a screeching halt.

"We cannot proceed this morning. ... One of my assessors is not well, so this court is not properly constituted." (Via ENCA)

"Oscar Pistorius, minutes after walking into court thinking he might testify today, got up and walked out." (Via NBC)

Pistorius, the double amputee Olympic athlete known as "Blade Runner" for his prosthetic running legs, has been accused of murder after shooting and killing Steenkamp in February last year. Pistorius claims he mistook Steenkamp for a burglar and fired in self-defense; the prosecution is charging Pistorius with murder. (Via HLN, BBC)

After testimony from Pistorius's neighbors and forensic experts, prosecutors abruptly rested their case Thursday. The defense was scheduled to begin its argument Friday, and Pistorius' testimony was expected to be first on their agenda.

While neither side of the case has presented decisive evidence yet — a shoddy forensic investigation and conflicting timelines have complicated the trial — The Daily Beast says the prosecution "has done enough to harvest a golden thread of evidence that could spell big trouble for Pistorius."

A CNN legal analyst agrees, saying the prosecution's case can be directly challenged only by Pistorius himself. "He is the only person who can convince the court of his own state of mind on the night in question. ... It is on Pistorius' testimony that it will truly rise or fall."

But the delay throws a new wrinkle into the trial. A Fox News legal analyst thinks the delay could work in the defense's favor, by lessening the impact of the state's primary witnesses who testified at the beginning of the trial.

"Now that there's a delay, that takes it farther in duration away from that, and allows the defense more time to prepare. And hopefully the judge will consider the defense's case and spend less time focusing on the state's primary evidence."

Pistorius' trial is set to begin April 7. If convicted of premeditated murder, the athlete could face up to 25 years behind bars.