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Originally published March 3, 2014 at 7:39 PM | Page modified March 3, 2014 at 10:16 PM

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Murder trial of Oscar Pistorius begins

The murder trial of Oscar Pistorius opened in Pretoria, South Africa, with testimony from a neighbor who described the sound of what she said were four gunshots and recalled the “bloodcurdling screams” of a woman prosecutors say was the girlfriend slain by the double-amputee runner in

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Track and field

Murder trial of Pistorius begins

The murder trial of Oscar Pistorius opened Monday in Pretoria, South Africa, with testimony from a neighbor who described the sound of what she said were four gunshots and recalled the “bloodcurdling screams” of a woman prosecutors say was the girlfriend slain by the athlete in his home.

“It’s the most helpless feeling I’ve ever had in my life,” university lecturer Michelle Burger said of listening to the screams. “I knew something terrible was happening in that house.”

Pistorius, a 27-year-old double-amputee runner whose stature peaked at the 2012 London Olympics and plummeted when he shot model and TV personality Reeva Steenkamp in the pre-dawn hours of Valentine’s Day last year, sometimes passed notes to defense lawyers.

Prosecutors allege Pistorius, who has been free on bail, shot Steenkamp after an argument. He has said he killed her after mistaking her for a nighttime intruder in his home, shooting her through the closed door of the toilet cubicle in his bathroom. Steenkamp, 29, was hit three times — in the head, elbow and hip area; a fourth bullet did not strike her.

Early testimony focused on whether the screams Burger said she heard were those of a terrified woman about to be shot to death, as prosecutors allege, or were instead Pistorius’ desperate shrieks for help after a fatal mistake, as defense lawyers contend.

Pistorius pleaded not guilty to charges of murder and three other counts relating to shooting guns in public in unrelated incidents and illegal possession of ammunition.

Judge Thokozile Masipa will deliver the verdict and decide on any sentence. South Africa has no trial by jury.

As a runner, Pistorius overcame his disability to compete in the 400 meters on carbon-fiber blades at the London Games.


Davenport heads Hall class

American Lindsay Davenport was in the middle of another major life milestone when she found out she had been elected to the International Tennis Hall of Fame.

The three-time major singles champion got the call when she was in a hospital about to give birth to her fourth child in early January. With daughter Haven nearly 2 months old, the 37-year-old Davenport can start to reflect on the honor.

“Growing up playing tennis, getting to the Hall of Fame was never even in my dreams,” she said on a conference call after the class of 2014 was announced.

The enshrinement ceremony is July 12 in Newport, R.I.

Davenport will be joined by five-time Paralympic medalist Chantal Vandierendonck in the recent-player category and coach Nick Bollettieri, executive Jane Brown Grimes and former BBC Wimbledon broadcaster John Barrett in the contributor category.


U.S. reveals home-jersey design

The U.S. home jersey for this year’s World Cup in Brazil resembles a golf shirt.

The U.S. Soccer Federation released the Nike design and it has a white polo collar. The collar and the sleeves have red trim, and the uniform shorts and socks also are white.

The uniform will be used by the U.S. men’s and women’s teams.

Sled-dog racing

Buser leads early in Iditarod

Four-time champion Martin Buser was the first to leave the Rohn checkpoint on the second day of competition in the Iditarod Trail Sled Dog Race, an event of about 1,000 miles in Alaska that ends in Nome.

The battle for the lead tends to remain fluid until mushers begin taking a mandatory 24-hour layover and two eight-hour rests.

Sixty-nine mushers started the race Sunday afternoon in Willow. An 11-mile, noncompetitive, ceremonial start took place in Anchorage on Saturday.


• Stanford junior Patrick Rodgers, who is No. 1 in the World Amateur Golf Ranking, said he will forgo his final year of college eligibility to pursue a professional career after this season. The two-time All-American from Avon, Ind., said he decided to make the announcement because he didn’t want growing speculation about his future to become a distraction for the eighth-ranked Cardinal.

• Forward Marian Hossa will be sidelined for an estimated two to three weeks because of an upper-body injury, leaving the defending Stanley Cup champion Chicago Blackhawks without one of their top scorers.

Hossa was injured Saturday during Chicago’s 5-1 victory over the Pittsburgh Penguins in an outdoor NHL game at Soldier Field, home of the NFL Chicago Bears.

• Host Dallas beat Buffalo 3-2, giving Stars coach Lindy Ruff his 600th NHL victory. Ruff’s first 571 victories were with Buffalo.

“It means I’m on my way to 700, hopefully,” Ruff said. “It means that I’ve had a lot of good players and good teams.”

• Ohio State coach Urban Meyer had a medical procedure over the weekend and expects to be on the field when the Buckeyes begin spring-football drills Tuesday.

A team spokesman said the surgery was to remove fluid from a cyst on Meyer’s brain. The cyst was discovered in 1998, when Meyer was an assistant at Notre Dame.

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