TODAY   |  February 23, 2013

Expert: Pistorius prosecutor ‘has a pretty solid case’

“At the end of the day, he admits that he killed her,” said former prosecutor Karen DeSoto. Olympian Oscar Pistorius has been sent home on bail, and DeSoto said that this is a time for both the defense and prosecution to solidify their arguments. DeSoto talks to TODAY’s Erica Hill.

Share This:

This content comes from Closed Captioning that was broadcast along with this program.

>>> karen desoto is a former prosecutor. you watched this with a lot of interest as many of us did yesterday. it was very long. and we got a lot of detail from both sides. did it give you any sort of indication as to how this trial might play out?

>> first of all, we know that it's going to be a madhouse, but it was a four-day bail hearing which is unusual. there were a lot of details which is very good for the defense because now the defense is doing their discovery, and it kind of gives you a blueprint of where the prosecutor is going and where the details are going fall.

>> good for the defense and also, i would think you would say yes as a former prosecutor, good for the prosecution, too. while some of that was laid out in this statement that was given by pistorius and his attorneys, it does really give a better sense to the prosecution, as well.

>> of course. i mean, listen, he's admitting -- there's a dead body , she was shot, she was in a locked bathroom. the prosecutor has a pretty solid case. maybe not murder, maybe it will be the lesser included offense of culpable homicide . but at the end of the day , he admits that he killed her. what level of culpability is really what's at stake at the trial.

>> what happens next? because there's this hearing now, a preliminary hearing on june 4. that kind of sets up the actual trial, is that correct?

>> right. the trial will be probably within the year. but there will be a lot of motion practice, a lot of evidentiary hearings. just like we have over here, it's very similar. so that will be the next step. obviously he's out on bail now. he can ail in his defense and -- he can aid in his defense and the prosecutor will be investigating, looking at character witnesses. all the rumors that are swirling will be investigated.

>> any surprise that he was, in fact, granted sfwhal.

>> no, that's not -- bail?

>> no, that's not unusual. usually you let the defendant out to aid in his defense . this is a world-renowned person, very inspirational. it's really down to flight risk and whether he's a risk to the community. i mean, if it is a cold-blooded murder, obviously what may have been a crime of passion , domestic violence involved, very serious in nature but not a harm to anyone else .

>> there are things that are different in the south african justice system .

>> yes.

>> number one being, which will look different to most of us, there's not a jury.

>> yes. this is very interesting because of apartheid and racial discrimination. they moved from jury trials to judge panels which is very interesting as an attorney. i can tell you my bench trials are very different than my jury trials . and the reason for that is because you have a tendency to be more technical and less emotional. if his defense is the intruder defense --

>> you're more technical with a judge than a jury?

>> correct. you're more formal, more law oriented. whereas with jurors you're going to be a lot more emotional which would have been good for an intruder defense because you want to play on jurors' emotions. you're not going to have that with three judges. they've seen it all, been there. unfortunately in his case, that's probably a minus and not a plus for him.

>> as a former prosecutor, anything that you heard over these four days, that you read, that struck you in the way things are being handled and said?

>> yes. well, obviously, the dna evidence really isn't that important when you're looking at the intent behind what happened. but yeah, 3:00 in the morning, i can tell you a lot of scenarios that i've seen with women in any country that are locked in the bathroom. it's the same old factual scenario. they get in an argument. she locks herself in the bathroom. it's expletive, expletive, expletive, gets out of there or else i'm going to break down the door. that's not a surprise. any woman who's locked in a bathroom at 3:00 in the morning in their own home, odds are that there was a fight. and obviously those details will bore out. i can tell you i've seen it on both sides. both as a public defender and prosecutor. women and children locked in a bathroom at 3:00 in the morning, there's really no good end there.

>> nice to have you here this morning. thank you. lester?