Dateline | February 28, 2014
>>> as oscar pistorius prepares to go on trial for murder, his defense is already pretty clear. he was terrified. he believed he was shooting through his bathroom door at an intruder. it's a defense that will have a resonance in south africa , where home invasion robberies are common, and the murder rate is almost seven times greater than in the u.s.
>> in south africa , there's no safe place because if criminals want you in your house , they will get you in your house .
>> reporter: an oscar acquaintance is both a man of will and a robbery victim.
>> a lot of people have been robbed of money in their houses.
>> you kind of buy oscar 's story then, that he thought there was an intruder in the bathroom?
>> it makes sense to you?
>> it makes so much sense.
>> and oscar may have unintentionally bolstered his defense , his fear of an intruder, when three months before shooting reeva, he tweeted he thought he heard an attacker hiding in his laundry room. nothing like getting home to hear the washing machine on and thinking it's an intruder to go into full combat recon mode into the pantry.
>> oscar didn't sleep well, oscar didn't sit still. he was restless all the time.
>> journalist michael, while working on the preolympics profile of oscar for "the new york times" said that he observed in private oscar was often afraid.
>> he seemed to have a great deal of fear, reasonable or not, of people breaking into his house . one day when i was with him, we came back to the house and he said, by the way, there was a noise in the house last night. and i thought it was an intruder. and i came downstairs with my gun.
>> back then as this video revealed today, oscar seemed proficient with a gun. we don't know if oscar will testify in his own defense at the trial, but we already have this testimony, the sworn statement he gave after the shooting. his most detailed account to date of the night he killed reeva. he described himself as a man living in fear who heard a bump in the night . i heard a noise in the bathroom. i felt a sense of terror rushing over me. i believed that someone had entered my house . i was too scared to switch a light on. i grabbed my 9-millimeter pistol from underneath my bed. on my way to the bathroom i screamed words to the effect of him, them to get out of my house and for reeva to phone the police. i heard movement inside the toilet. it filled me with horror and fear. i did not have my prosthetic legs on. i felt extremely vulnerable. i fired shots at the toilet door and shouted to reeva to phone the police. i was still too scared to switch on a light.
>> the defense will be that this is a tragic accident.
>> and in fact that defense has been used successfully, said reporter barry bateman. that was ten years ago after a heart-breaking shooting involving a south african rugby star.
>> he accidentally shot dead his daughter. early hours of the morning she had snuck in and was taking the father's car to go out. without warning shots or anything, the father out the bedroom window shot at his own daughter thinking her to be a thief.
>> the rugby player was not prosecuted. the judge decided he had suffered enough. oscar 's attorney, said crime reporter karyn maughan, will argue he has suffered all his life.
>> i think there is an awareness from his defense team that they cannot present oscar pistorius as this perfect human being who was so idolized by so many people. there has to be an acknowledgement, a real acknowledgement of the kind of issues that he's had, that have always been under the surface.
>> in fact, she has learned oscar will actually ask the court to hold him to a different standard of justice.
>> that he can't be judged according to the standards of the reasonable man.
>> south african self defense law is based on how a reasonable man would react to an attack. maughan said she's learned that oscar 's defense team plans to portray him as something other than that.
>> they need to take into account that this is a person who has consistently said that he felt the most vulnerable on his stumps and was living safely in a state of fear , in a state of terror and you need to judge him by that standard.
>> the irony of it. oscar pistorius fought for years to get into the olympics, to be treated like everybody else. but once in court is expected to make the opposite argument. that he is different, a double amputee living in constant fear of the dark . and it wasn't just a faceless intruder oscar feared, he's expected to claim at the trial that he was particularly afraid of this man, former south african soccer star, marc batchelor.
>> he said in one of his affidavits that he feared me.
>> why would oscar think that? well, it's quite a story. batchelor has been named as a prosecution witness, and his testimony is expected to pack the court house . he's been told not to speak publicly about the case until then. but before that order went out, he granted "dateline" an exclusive interview in which he is going to tell us oscar wasn't a fearful man, but an angry one.