Pistorius weeps at bail hearing

Two versions of girlfriend's death presented presented in court
2013-02-20T00:00:00Z 2013-02-21T00:12:18Z Pistorius weeps at bail hearingThe Associated Press The Associated Press
February 20, 2013 12:00 am  • 

PRETORIA, South Africa - Oscar Pistorius portrayed himself as a lover caught in tragedy, wielding a pistol and frightened as he stood only on his stumps, then killed his girlfriend after mistaking her for an intruder on Valentine's Day.

Prosecutors, however, said the double-amputee Olympian committed premeditated murder, planning the slaying, then firing at Reeva Steenkamp as she cowered behind his locked bathroom door with no hope of escape.

"She couldn't go anywhere," prosecutor Gerrie Nel told a packed courtroom Tuesday. "It must have been horrific."

Weeping uncontrollably, Pistorius listened as his words were read out in court by his attorney during the opening of a two-day bail hearing, his first public account of the events surrounding the shooting death of Steenkamp, a 29-year-old model and reality TV star who had spoken out against violence against women.

"I fail to understand how I could be charged with murder, let alone premeditated murder, as I had no intention to kill my girlfriend, Reeva Steenkamp," Pistorius said in the sworn affidavit. "I deny the aforesaid allegation in the strongest terms."

It was the first time that the prosecution and Pistorius provided details of their radically divergent accounts of the killing, which has shocked South Africans and fans worldwide, who idolized the 26-year-old track star known as the Blade Runner for overcoming his disability to compete in last summer's London Olympics.

Nel said Pistorius committed premeditated murder when he rose from his bed after a fight with Steenkamp, pulled on his prosthetic legs and walked about 20 feet from his bedroom to the locked toilet door and pumped it with four bullets, three of which hit the model.

That contradicted the runner's statement, read aloud by defense attorney Barry Roux, who described how the couple spent a quiet night together in the athlete's upscale home in a gated community in the capital of Pretoria, then went to sleep around 10 p.m.

Pistorius broke down in sobs repeatedly as his account was read, prompting Chief Magistrate Desmond Nair to call a recess at one point.

Nair adjourned the case until Wednesday without ruling on whether Pistorius would be granted bail. However, he said the gravity of the charge required "exceptional" reasons for bail to be granted.

Copyright 2014 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.


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