PRETORIA, SOUTH AFRICA
— The long-awaited murder trial of South African sprinter Oscar Pistorius began this week, bringing with it drama and explosive testimony.
The first week of Oscar Pistorius’ murder trial has delivered as many twists and turns as the runner’s own dramatic life story.
The once-celebrated athlete, who grabbed the spotlight for being the first double amputee to compete in the Olympics, is fighting a murder charge for shooting dead his girlfriend, Reeva Steenkamp, last year. He insists he mistook her for an intruder when he shot her through a locked bathroom door.
Judge Thokozile Masipa will decide his fate along with two assessors, both of whom have legal training and who will help guide her judgment.
Witnesses gave dramatic testimony that they heard screams and what they took to be gunshots from the athlete’s home on that fateful night.
Oscar Pistorius leaves the high court in Pretoria, April 14, 2014.
Oscar Pistorius outside the North Gauteng High Court in Pretoria, April 10, 2014.
Jane Steenkamp, Reeva Steenkamp's mother is comforted by a relative after her dead daughter's picture was shown on screen during the trial of Oscar Pistorius at the North Gauteng High Court in Pretoria, April 9, 2014.
Family members, including uncle Arnold Pistorius, right, cry as they listen to Oscar Pistorius testifying in court in Pretoria, April 8, 2014.
Oscar Pistorius becomes emotional during his trial at the high court in Pretoria, April 7, 2014.
Members of the public crowd around Oscar Pistorius as he leaves the high court, Pretoria, March 12, 2014.
Oscar Pistorius cries as he prays with his sister Aimee and brother Carl at his indictment at the magistrates court in Pretoria, August 19, 2013.
This aerial image taken from video provided by VNS24/7 shows the home of Oscar Pistorius in a gated housing complex in Pretoria, Feb. 14, 2013.
Olympian runner Oscar Pistorius posing next to his girlfriend Reeva Steenkamp at Melrose Arch in Johannesburg, Jan. 26, 2013.
Oscar Pistorius celebrates winning the men's 400 meter final during the London 2012 Paralympic Games, Sept. 8, 2012.
“Just after I heard screams, my lady, I heard four shots. It was four gunshots that I heard," said Michelle Burger, a witness. "It was very traumatic for me. You could hear that it was blood-curdling screams. It leaves you cold. You can’t translate it, the anxiousness in her voice.”
Pistorius has remained calm through most of the proceedings, and has been supported by his close-knit family.
Steenkamp’s mother, June Steenkamp, also attended the first day of the trial, and told British broadcaster ITV that Pistorius refused to return her intense gaze.
Some experts predict the trial could take months.
Oscar Pistorius is no stranger to obstacles, but this is the biggest fight of his life.