News / Africa

Pistorius Trial Adjourned After Star Witness Breaks Down

Pistorius Breaks Down During Testimonyi
|| 0:00:00
Pamela Dockins
April 08, 2014 4:00 PM
South African runner Oscar Pistorius broke down in sobs Tuesday as he described the moment he realized he had fatally shot his girlfriend, Reeva Steenkamp, at his Pretoria home. As VOA's Pam Dockins reports, his emotional recount of last year's shooting took place during his second day of testimony at his murder trial.
Video report by Pam Dockins
VOA News
A South African court adjourned Oscar Pistorius' murder trial until Wednesday to allow the athlete to regain composure after he broke down and cried on the witness stand Tuesday, as he described the moment he realized he had fatally shot his girlfriend, Reeva Steenkamp.

The South African runner, testifying for a second day in his murder trial, said he initially thought an intruder was in his Pretoria home when he fired shots through a locked bathroom door.

"I flung the door open. I threw it open and I sat over Reeva and I cried.  I don't know how long.  I don't know how long I was there for.  She wasn't breathing," he said.
  • 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.

Several people in the audience wiped their eyes as Pistorius recounted the events leading up to Steenkamp's shooting.  After an adjournment, the judge canceled testimony for the rest of the day.

Earlier Tuesday, the defense focused on Pistorius' relationship with Steenkamp.

He told the court that prior to the night he shot Steenkamp, the two had discussed future travel plans and decorating a new house in Johannesburg.

“There were many things that we had in common that we started speaking about more frequently, and there were events that she invited me to and vice-versa, and we started really seeing a future with each other,” he said.

Pistorius also read aloud text messages sent by Steenkamp, as his lead defense lawyer led him through a series of conversations that depict times the couple fought, reconciled and lived happily.

“I’m scared of you sometimes and how you snap at me and of how you will react to me. You make me happy 90 percent of the time, and I think we are amazing together,” he said.

The defense is trying to convince the court that Pistorius is not guilty of murdering Steenkamp.

Prosecutors say Pistorius intentionally shot her, while the defense says he thought he was shooting at a nighttime intruder.

On Monday, Pistorius apologized to Steenkamp's family before answering questions about his life before and after the February 2013 shooting, as well as the difficulties caused by his carbon-fiber prosthetic legs.

He has pleaded not guilty to charges of pre-meditated murder and three firearm-related offenses.  If convicted, he faces 25 years to life in prison.

Pistorius is known as the "blade runner" for his prosthetic legs.  He became the first double-amputee to compete in the Olympics when he ran at the 2012 games in London.

Some information for this report provided by Reuters.

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Comment Sorting
by: Not Again from: Canada
April 08, 2014 12:58 PM
A performance deserving an oscar; fortunately the facts are very clear- a screaming in terror woman; a closed door with absolutely no possible threat to this shooter; 5 shots, through a closed door, when in fact he was supposed to fire one warning shot, and ask for a response; for the first few month his composure showed no remorse.

Speculation- given the number of shots fired in the blind, almost emptied the magazine, without showing any humanity/restraint, a great deal of anger is demonstrated,and not fear; it was a clear continuation of an argument, that escalated into the merciless execution of this unarmed, innocent woman. Her error was to hang around with a really bad person, that is self centred with an uncontrollable sense of self assurance/ righteousness! which he also demonstrated in past negative situations/incidents.

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