PRETORIA, South Africa (AP):
Oscar Pistorius wept yesterday as his defence lawyer read the athlete's account of how he shot his girlfriend to death on Valentine's Day, claiming he had mistaken her for an intruder.
Prosecutors, however, told a packed courtroom that the double-amputee known as the 'Blade Runner' intentionally and mercilessly shot and killed 29-year-old Reeva Steenkamp as she cowered inside a locked bathroom.
Pistorius told the Pretoria Magistrate's Court at a bail hearing he felt vulnerable in the presence of an intruder inside the bathroom because he did not have his prosthetic legs on, and fired into the bathroom door.
In a major point of contention that emerged even during yesterday's bail hearing, prosecutor Gerrie Nel said Pistorius took the time to put on his prostheses, walked seven metres (yards) from the bed to the enclosed toilet inside his bathroom and only then opened fire. Three of the bullets hit Steenkamp of the four that were fired into the door, Nel said.
Pistorius said in his sworn statement that after opening fire, he realised that Steenkamp was not in his bed.
"It filled me with horror and fear," Pistorius said. The 26-year-old Olympian said he put on his prosthetic legs and tried to kick down the door before finally bashing it in with a cricket bat. Inside, he said he found Steenkamp, slumped over. He said he lifted her bloodied body into his arms and tried to carry her downstairs to seek medical help.
But by then, it was too late.
"She died in my arms," the athlete said.
Nel charged Pistorius with premeditated murder and said the athlete opened fire after the couple engaged in a shouting match and she fled to the bathroom.
"She couldn't go anywhere. You can run nowhere," Nel said. "It must have been horrific."
A conviction of premeditated murder carries a mandatory sentence of life in jail.