Skip to main content
Advertising

Originally published April 7, 2014 at 7:12 PM | Page modified April 8, 2014 at 2:53 PM

  • Share:
             
  • Comments (0)
  • Print

Oscar Pistorius sobs as he apologizes, says he was acting as a protector of his girlfriend

Olympic runner testifies in his murder trial


The Associated Press

advertising

PRETORIA, South Africa — His voice shaking, Oscar Pistorius took the witness stand Monday for the first time, testifying he was trying to protect the girlfriend he killed and that he became so tormented by memories of the fatal shooting and panic attacks that he once hid helplessly in a closet.

Pistorius also offered an apology to the family of Reeva Steenkamp, who died from multiple wounds after the double-amputee runner shot her through a closed toilet door last year in his home. He said he mistook Steenkamp for an intruder. Prosecutors allege he killed her after an argument.

“There hasn’t been a moment since this tragedy happened that I haven’t thought about your family,” the Olympian said at the murder trial as Steenkamp’s mother, June, looked impassively at him in the courtroom.

“I was simply trying to protect Reeva. I can promise that when she went to bed that night she felt loved,” Pistorius said.

Pistorius’ display of anguish and remorse was a marked departure from the testimony of some prosecution witnesses whose accounts painted a picture of the runner as a hothead with a jealous streak, an inflated sense of entitlement and an obsession with guns in the months before he killed Steenkamp, 29, a model.

He has yet to be cross-examined about the shooting in the early hours of Feb. 14, 2013, and that testimony is likely to be the centerpiece of a trial being followed around the world. Pistorius was charged with premeditated murder and faces 25 years to life in prison if convicted. Some analysts said the judge, who will decide the case, will consider a lesser charge such as homicide, which could still lead to prison for years.

Pistorius, 27, spoke in a soft, quavering voice at the start of his testimony, forcing Judge Thokozile Masipa to ask him to speak more loudly. He stood at first, stifling sobs as he said he was on antidepressants and sometimes woke from nightmares to the “smell of blood.”

Defense lawyer Barry Roux, who had aggressively challenged prosecution witnesses, led Pistorius gently through events in a life that was held up, in the runner’s heyday, as an inspiring tale. Pistorius was born without fibula bones because of a congenital defect, and his legs were amputated when he was 11 months old. He ran on carbon-fiber blades and is a multiple Paralympic medalist. He also competed at the London Olympics but didn’t win a medal.

Pistorius will return Tuesday to continue testifying after the judge granted an early adjournment because she said Pistorius looked “exhausted.”



Free 4-week trial, then $99 a year for unlimited seattletimes.com access. Try it now!

News where, when and how you want it

Email Icon

Career Center Blog

Career Center Blog

Looking for joy on the job


Advertising
The Seattle Times

The door is closed, but it's not locked.

Take a minute to subscribe and continue to enjoy The Seattle Times for as little as 99 cents a week.

Subscription options ►

Already a subscriber?

We've got good news for you. Unlimited seattletimes.com content access is included with most subscriptions.

Subscriber login ►
The Seattle Times

To keep reading, you need a subscription upgrade.

We hope you have enjoyed your complimentary access. For unlimited seattletimes.com access, please upgrade your digital subscription.

Call customer service at 1.800.542.0820 for assistance with your upgrade or questions about your subscriber status.

The Seattle Times

To keep reading, you need a subscription.

We hope you have enjoyed your complimentary access. Subscribe now for unlimited access!

Subscription options ►

Already a subscriber?

We've got good news for you. Unlimited seattletimes.com content access is included with most subscriptions.

Activate Subscriber Account ►