Former Olympic sprinter Oscar Pistorius broke down in sobs Tuesday as he recounted the moment he realised he had shot his girlfriend, Reeva Steenkamp, forcing his trial in a South African court to be adjourned until Wednesday.
Pistorius, 27, broke down in the witness stand while describing the moment he realised he had fatally shot Steenkamp, 29, who he says he mistook for an intruder in the middle of the night.
He told the court how he heard a window sliding open in the bathroom in the early hours of Valentine's Day last year and was convinced an intruder was breaking in.
"That's the moment that everything changed," he said, his voice tense with emotion. "I thought that there was a burglar that was gaining entry to my home."
Grabbing the 9mm pistol he kept under his bed, Pistorius said he moved on his stumps down the passageway leading from the bedroom towards the bathroom and the would-be intruders.
Pistorius said that he peered around the door of the bathroom, his right arm holding the gun outstretched and his left hand steadying himself against the wall.
He said he then noticed the bathroom window was open, confirming his fears.
"It was at that point that I was just overcome with fear. And I started screaming and shouting for the burglar or the intruders to get out of my house. I shouted for Reeva to get on the floor, I shouted for her to phone the police. I screamed at the people to get out. I heard a door slam, which could have only been the toilet door. I couldn't see into the bathroom at this point but I could hear the door slam. And for me it confirmed that there was a person or people inside the toilet or inside the bathroom at that time."
Pistorius went on to describe the moment he fired.
"I just stayed where I was and kept on screaming. Then I heard a noise from inside the toilet that I perceived to be somebody coming out of the toilet. Before I knew it, I had fired four shots at the door."
He said he continued to shout at Steenkamp to call the police, but slowly started to realise that she was not responding and might have been the one behind the door.
He broke down as he described bashing in a door panel to gain access to the toilet and discovering his mortally wounded girlfriend slumped over in the cubicle.
"I sat over Reeva and I cried,'' Pistorius said. "I don't know how long I was there for."
Pistorius sobbed uncontrollably in the witness stand, leading Judge Thokozile Masipa to adjourn the hearing for the day.
Still crying, the athlete exited out a side door of the courtroom with his head in his hands.
Prosecutors say he killed Steenkamp intentionally after an argument. He is charged with premeditated murder and faces a life sentence with a minimum of 25 years before the possibility of parole if convicted.
(FRANCE 24 with AFP, REUTERS)
Date created : 2014-04-08