In seeking a premeditated murder charge against Pistorius, prosecutors appear to be claiming they have evidence the athlete planned the killing ahead of time, said William Booth, a prominent Cape Town defense lawyer.
Such a serious charge makes it more difficult for Pistorius to successfully apply for bail, Booth said, though it could also be a challenge to get a conviction.
"It's quite difficult to prove that in a situation where there isn't a witness," the defense lawyer said. "If I just plan it in my mind and I arrive at somebody's house and there's no witnesses and I shoot the person, it's really tough for the prosecution to show that planning."
Pistorius made history at the London Olympics last year when he became the first double-amputee track athlete to compete at any games. He didn't win a medal but did make the semifinals of the 400 meters and the final of the 4X400 relay, propelling the world's best-known Paralympian to the level of an international track star and one of the world's best-known sportsmen.
AP Sports Writer Gerald Imray reported from Johannesburg. Associated Press writer Michelle Faul in Johannesburg contributed to this report.
Jon Gambrell can be reached at www.twitter.com/jongambrellAP . Gerald Imray can be reached at www.twitter.com/geraldimrayAP .