Pretoria, South Africa (CNN) -- Oscar Pistorius left jail Friday, free on bond eight days after the shooting death of his model girlfriend, Reeva Steenkamp.
Magistrate Desmond Nair
said the state had problems with its investigation and had not offered
enough proof to keep Pistorius jailed.
"I come to the conclusion
that the accused has made a case to be released on bail," Nair said,
eliciting a celebratory cry of "Yes!" from the courtroom.
"We are relieved," said Pistorius' uncle, Arnold, speaking on behalf of the family.
Pistorius, who wept
throughout much of Friday's hearing, remained quiet and reserved after
the announcement and did not appear to celebrate. His family hugged
"As a family, we know
Oscar's version of what happened that tragic night. And we know that
that is the truth and that will prevail in the coming court cases," his
Pistorius is accused of premeditated murder in the February 14 shooting death of Steenkamp, 29.
Prosecutors say Pistorius, 26, killed her after a heated argument in the early morning hours of Valentine's Day.
The sprinter says he
thought an intruder was hiding in a toilet room inside the bathroom of
his Pretoria home. He says he fired in a fit of terror before realizing
Steenkamp was inside.
"I'd like to ask Oscar
why he didn't lean over and touch my cousin first...and say 'are you
okay?' 'keep quiet,' 'I'm coming now,'" said Kim Martin, Steenkamp's
In full: Pistorius' affidavit to court
While recounting a
litany of "improbabilities" in Pistorius' account, Nair said defense
attorneys had done enough to prove the "exceptional circumstances"
required by South African law for the release of a suspect charged with
He said the former chief
investigator in the case, Hilton Botha, had made "several errors and
concessions" in his testimony at the bail hearing, and said prosecutors
had failed to prove that Pistorius was a flight risk or had a propensity
Botha was replaced after prosecutors reinstated attempted murder charges against him in a 2011 incident unrelated to Pistorius.
During the four-day bail
hearing, prosecutors argued that Pistorius had a history of violence
and that his account didn't add up.
heavily on Botha's testimony, including statements from witnesses, who
said they heard Pistorius and Steenkamp arguing before the shooting, as
well as ballistic evidence that Botha said proved Pistorius was lying
about how he had shot into the door.
But Botha seemed to
buckle under questioning from defense attorney Barry Roux, who got the
detective to acknowledge that the bullet evidence wasn't as conclusive
as he had initially said and that at least one witness he had spoken to
could not say for certain that the sounds he had heard came from
Nair also said that
Botha had failed to exhaustively check cell phone records and chided the
investigator for failing to check with Interpol before testifying that
Pistorius owned a home in Italy -- raising his profile as a potential
The source of the information about the house apparently was a magazine article, the judge noted.
Roux also said that
defense investigators had found a bullet missed by police and that
police may have contaminated the crime scene by failing to wear
protective shoe covers. Police had run out of the covers, Botha
Nair said he wasn't
convinced by prosecution arguments that Pistorius had a violent nature
and was a threat to the public. The prosecution cited an incident in
which Pistorius reportedly fired a gun on accident inside a Johannesburg
restaurant and another in which he allegedly made violent threats.
Finally, Nair said Botha
had "blundered" in testifying that a substance recovered from
Pistorius' home was testosterone. Some outsiders to the case have
speculated that steroids or other substances could have played a role in
The defense lawyer told Nair the substance was a legal herbal remedy. Tests are ongoing, authorities said.
Too soon to judge
On the other hand, Nair
said Pistorius' account is full of "improbabilities," from why he did
not know Steenkamp had gotten out of bed to why he would have charged
toward the bathroom door -- where he believed he had an intruder
cornered -- if he was as scared for his life as he claimed.
Nair warned that it is
too soon to judge the state's case, and he noted that a wide range of
experts beyond Botha had worked on the initial phases of the
investigation -- from ballistics experts to specialists in blood
"The pieces of the puzzle may not yet all be before me," he said.
Conditions of bail
Pistorius left jail in a
Land Rover chased by paparazzi on motorcycles Friday afternoon after
posting a cash bond of 100,000 Rand (about $11,200). Another 900,000
Rand (about $100,800) is due by March 1, Nair said. It was not
immediately clear where he was headed.
He cannot return to the
home where the shooting happened, has to give up his passport and can't
go near an airport, Nair ruled. He also can't drink alcohol and must
report to a police station every Monday and Friday.
The decision comes a day after the South African Police Service moved to remove Botha from the case.
Botha, a 22-year
detective, is accused of seven counts of attempted murder after
allegedly chasing and firing on a minibus full of people while drunk,
according to officials.
A spokeswoman for South Africa's prosecution service said the accusations would be little more than a "speed bump" in the case.
Model Vanessa Haywood, a
South African model who is friends with Pistorius, said the murder
charge doesn't fit with the kind-spirited man she knows. And she said
she can relate to Pistorius' story of being filled with terror at the
thought of an intruder.
"It's not the safest
place in the world," she said of crime-ridden South Africa, where murder
and carjacking cases are common. "My own home is like a prison. His
version of events isn't as far-fetched as people think it is."
Pistorius earned the
nickname "Blade Runner" as he competed on special carbon fiber blades in
place of more traditional prosthetic limbs. He was born missing bones
in his lower legs, and doctors amputated his legs below the knees when
he was 11 months old.
Pistorius attained fame
as a symbol of triumph over adversity when won a challenge to compete in
the London Olympics. While he failed to medal there, he smashed a
record to win the men's 400-meter race in the Paralympic Games a few
He is considered a national hero in South Africa.
Pistorius put his career on hold after his arrest, and sponsors Nike and Oakley suspended their contracts with him.
His coach said Friday before the bail decision that, should he be let out on bail, the runner would resume training.
By Diane McCarthy and Michael Pearson, CNN