• Athletics

Pistorius denies premeditated murder

ESPN staff
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Oscar Pistorius has denied murdering his girlfriend Reeva Steenkamp and said he thought he was firing at an intruder when he shot her through a bathroom door at his home.

Pistorius' legal team read out an affidavit stating that the athlete was "filled with horrible fear" that someone had sneaked into his home through an open bathroom window.

The statement continued that Pistorius did not have his prosthetic legs on and felt extremely vulnerable. His lawyer asserted that Pistorius reached for a gun, moved towards the bathroom and screamed at the intruder.

It was also stated that Pistorius screamed at Steenkamp to call the police and fired shots through the bathroom door.

It was then stated that Pistorius went back to the bedroom and realised Steenkamp was not there, at which point it dawned on him that it might be his girlfriend in the bathroom. A 'mortified' Pistorius broke down the door and called for security and paramedics.

Pistorius added that he had received death threats in the past, so kept a 9mm pistol under his bed.

During the reading of the statement, magistrate Desmond Nair had to halt proceedings as Pistorius was sobbing uncontrollably.

The affidavit was read out following the ruling by the magistrate that Pistorius would face, for the purposes of the bail hearing, a premeditated murder charge.

The session was adjourned for the day following statements from friends of Pistorius and Steenkamp - Justin Divaris and Samantha Greyvenstein.

Pistorius will be held overnight in a police station ahead of the second day of the bail hearing.

Pistorius arrived in court on Tuesday for a bail hearing in the case over Steenkamp's murder.

During the hearing, prosecutors said Pistorius shot four times and hit Steenkamp three times while she was in the bathroom at his home. Pistorius wept as he heard the account from prosecutor Gerrie Nel.

In their account of the killing, prosecutors said Pistorius - a double amputee - got up, put on his prosthesis, walked seven metres and fired his gun through the bathroom door.

Pistorius' defence lawyer countered the prosecution charge and said the athlete did not know it was Steenkamp behind the bathroom door and has denied the charge of murder.

This is the first time that the athlete's defence team has put forward their case since Pistorius was arrested following the shooting at his home last Thursday.

After outlining the case against Pistorius, the magistrate ruled that, for the purposes of the bail hearing, it will be classified as a more serious "schedule six offence" of premeditated murder and stated that 'exceptional circumstances' will have to be proved for bail to be granted.

The magistrate did add he could change the charge at the end of the hearing.

The bail hearing came on the day Steenkamp was cremated at a private ceremony for family and friends in Port Elizabeth.

Speaking after the cremation, Steenkamp's uncle - Michael Steenkamp broke down in tears as he said the model would be "in our hearts forever".

Meanwhile Steenkamp's mother has paid tribute to her daughter. Mrs Steenkamp told South African newspaper The Times: "She loved like no one else could love.

"She had so much of herself to give and now all of it is gone. Just like that, she is gone ... In the blink of an eye and a single breath, the most beautiful person who ever lived is no longer here.

"All we have is this horrendous death to deal with ... to get to grips with. All we want are answers ... answers as to why this had to happen, why our beautiful daughter had to die like this."

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