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May 05, 2014

Pistorius Trial Resumes With Neighbor's Testimony

by VOA News

The trial of South African runner Oscar Pistorius has resumed after a break of several weeks.

The star athlete is accused of killing his girlfriend, Reeva Steenkamp, 29, at his Pretoria home last year.

Pistorius does not dispute that he shot Steenkamp but insists he thought he was shooting at a nighttime intruder.

The prosecution claims Pistorius intentionally shot Steenkamp.

The trial began with the defense calling Johan Stander, the manager of his upscale Pretoria housing complex, as a witness.

The murder trial of South African runner Oscar Pistorius has resumed after a break of several weeks with the defendant's neighbor taking the stand.


Stander, who lived near Pistorius in the Silverwoods estate, was the first person on the scene after the 27-year-old shot dead Steenkamp, in the early hours of Feb. 14 - Valentine's Day - last year.

Taking the stand, Stander told the court that he received a phone call from a distressed Pistorius in the middle of the night, saying he had killed 29-year-old law graduate and model by mistake.

"Oom [Uncle] Johan, please, please come to my house. I shot Reeva. I thought she was an intruder. Please, please come quickly,'' he quoted Pistorius as telling him in a phone conversation minutes after the shooting.

Stander said Pistorius was torn apart, desperate and praying for Steenkamp to stay alive.

Stander also testified about previous break-ins at the estate but was forced to admit under cross-examination that it was "generally a safe place''.

Pistorius' defense hinges on his assertion that he heard a noise in the middle of the night and thought it was an intruder climbing into the bathroom adjoining his bedroom.

When he heard another noise coming from the toilet he fired four shots through the door, thinking one or more intruders was behind it. Steenkamp, who was hit by at least three of the four hollow-point rounds fired, died almost instantly.

Pistorius is known as the "blade runner" for his carbon-fiber prosthetic legs. He has won many Paralympic Games medals and was the first double amputee to compete in the Olympics.

Some information for this report provided by Reuters