Oscar Pistorius has explained why he killed his girlfriend of only two months on Valentine’s Day. Pistorius appeared in a South African court Tuesday, asserting that shooting his significant other, Reeva Steenkamp, was a tragic mistake.
The 26-year-old said in a statement read by his lawyer, that he heard noises coming from the bathroom of his home. Believing that Steenkamp was asleep in bed, he fired shots at the person behind the door—but not before giving a verbal warning. “I felt extremely vulnerable,” he said, detailing how not wearing his prosthetic legs left him with no choice but to shoot. “I had to protect Reeva and myself … I had limited mobility on my stumps.”
After the shooting, Pistorius realized that his 29-year-old girlfriend was actually behind the door. “I kicked the door open,” he said. “She was alive. I tried to help her but she died in my arms.”
As he had done in court last week, Pistorius burst into tears, at one point causing the magistrate to postpone proceedings to give the Parlympic-champion time to gather himself.
No matter the emotion displayed in the room— packed with his supporters, and the media— prosecutors are not buying the story, accusing him of premeditated murder. In their depiction, outlined by a diagram of what they believe took place that morning, Steenkamp was shot first, and ran to the bathroom to seek refuge from her killer. Pistorius also put on his prosthetic legs before killing the model, prosecutors believe. “The applicant armed himself, attached his prosthesis, walked seven meters to the bathroom and shot the deceased while she was in the toilet,” prosecutor Gerrie Nel told the court. “He shot four times…There’s no possible explanation to support his report that he thought it was a burglar.”
“If I arm myself, walk a distance and murder a person, that is premeditated,” Nel added. “The door is closed. There is no doubt. I walk seven meters and I kill. The motive is ‘I want to kill’. That’s it. This deceased was in a 1.4 by 1.14 meter little room. She could go nowhere.”
Steenkamp’s funeral was held on the same day as the hearing. Family and friends requested that Pistorius remain in custody, and receive the harshest sentence possible. “Without a doubt. He’s a danger to the public,” said Gavin Venter, an ex-jockey who worked for Steenkamp’s father. “He’ll be a danger to witnesses. He must stay in jail.”
Pistorius became the first double-amputee track star to make it to the summer Olympic games held in London over the summer. With his legal battle heating up, he’s canceled all upcoming appearances.
A judge has yet to make a ruling on grating him bail, but said that he will consider downgrading the charges against Pistorius. Another hearing is scheduled for tomorrow morning.
See video plus photos from the courtroom, and Steenkamp’s funeral below.
Photos: AP/Rex Images/Reuters/AFP