Pistorius prober facing attempted murder raps

Updated 21 February 2013
0

Pistorius prober facing attempted murder raps

PRETORIA: The lead detective in athlete Oscar Pistorius’ murder case is himself facing attempted murder charges for opening fire on a minibus containing seven people in 2011, South African police said on Thursday.
Hilton Botha, who took the stand against Pistorius at the Paralympic and Olympic track star’s bail hearing this week, is due to appear in court in May, police spokesman Brig. Neville Malila said.
“Botha and two other policemen allegedly tried to stop a minibus taxi with seven people. They fired shots,” Malila told Reuters.
At the time, Botha was chasing a man accused of murdering a woman, chopping her up and stuffing the body parts down a drain, local media said.
The charges against Botha were provisionally withdrawn but were reinstated on on Feb. 4-10 days before the shooting of 29-year-old model and law graduate Reeva Steenkamp in a locked toilet at Pistorius’ Pretoria home, the National Prosecuting Authority (NPA) said.
“The decision to reinstate was taken on Feb. 4, way before the issue of Pistorius came to light or the murder of Reeva was committed,” NPA spokesman Medupe Simasiku told Reuters. “It’s completely unrelated to this trial.”
Malila said now that the court had decided to charge Botha, there would be an internal disciplinary investigation which would decide whether to keep him on the case.
“At this stage there are no plans to take him off the Pistorius case.”
It was unclear why the charges were reinstated against Botha, or how the latest twist in Pistorius’ sensational four-day bail hearing will affect the athlete’s chances of securing release from custody pending his main trial.
Pistorius — a double amputee dubbed “Blade Runner” because of his carbon fiber racing blades — faces life in prison if convicted of premeditated murder over the shooting of his girlfriend.
The latest twists cap an ignominious 24 hours for South Africa’s prosecution service.
Under cross-examination at the bail hearing on Wednesday, Botha was accused of contaminating the crime scene in Pistorius’ house and had to backtrack on details such as the distance of witnesses from the athlete’s home.
Grilled by lead defense counsel Barry Roux, he also had to concede that Pistorius’ version of events — that he fired into the toilet door thinking an intruder was lurking behind it — was plausible.
The bail hearing for Pistorius, 26, is due to restart at 0900 GMT. He is accused of shooting dead Steenkamp at his home in the early hours of Thursday last week — Valentine’s Day.


Man killed in random knife attack at California steakhouse

Updated 33 min 18 sec ago
0

Man killed in random knife attack at California steakhouse

  • The victim was dining with his family when the suspect came and stabbed him without warning
  • Police say suspect is a felon who had been convicted for burglary and unlawful sexual intercourse since the 1990s

LOS ANGELES: A homeless man who randomly stabbed a patron in a crowded Southern California restaurant to death as he was holding his daughter was reported just a few hours earlier for disruptive behavior, but police ultimately determined he was not a threat, authorities said Saturday.
Jamal Jackson, 49, is facing a first-degree murder charge in the death of 35-year-old Anthony Mele. He was being held in Ventura County jail on a $1.5 million bail. It was unclear if Jackson, who is also a convicted felon, had an attorney to speak on his behalf.
Mele and his wife were eating dinner with their 5-year-old daughter Wednesday at Aloha Steakhouse in the seaside city of Ventura. The girl was sitting on her father’s lap when prosecutors say Jackson walked up and stabbed Mele in the neck.
Prosecutor Richard Simon said customers and a restaurant employee followed Jackson out of the restaurant, even though he still had the knife. They kept track of him until Ventura police arrived and arrested him.
Mele was taken to a hospital and died Thursday after being taken off life support.
“It’s horrible,” Simon said. “You don’t think you’re going to be killed when you go out to dinner at a nice restaurant with your family and you didn’t do anything.”
Simon said the two men had not interacted before the attack.
“He was just sitting there with his daughter in his lap,” Simon said. “You’re not supposed to die that way.”
Mele’s loved ones started a GoFundMe page to help raise money for a funeral and to support his wife and daughter.
Mele’s Facebook page was filled with photos of his daughter and said he was a manager at an AT&T store.
Police confirmed that a bystander reported a man — who turned out to be Jackson — for disruptive behavior several hours before the stabbing.
According to the bystander, a man was yelling on the promenade not far from the beachside restaurant about three hours before the attack.
Patrol officers were out on other calls so command center staff monitored the man via a pier security camera system for more than 20 minutes before deciding he didn’t seem to be a threat, police said.
Police are asking anyone who spoke with Jackson during that time to contact investigators in the city 70 miles (113 kilometers) northwest of Los Angeles.
Jackson also had half a dozen contacts with police in Ventura since the beginning of the year, including an arrest after a physical fight at a park, said Commander Tom Higgins.
He was also stopped on March 31 after a passer-by reported he was brandishing a knife. Police searched his bag and found a knife but there was no victim so no charge was filed, Higgins said.
Jackson has a lengthy rap sheet including charges in San Bernardino County, Higgins said, as well as convictions for burglary and unlawful sexual intercourse dating back to the 1990s.
The killing prompted the Ventura City Council to increase police patrols in the area and add staff members to monitor security cameras, among other measures.
“We are extremely disheartened and infuriated by this criminal attack,” Mayor Neal Andrews said in a statement. “We will not tolerate this in our community. Nothing is more important than the safety of our visitors, residents and businesses.”
If convicted, Jackson faces up to 55 years in prison.