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Pistorius murder trial begins, pleads not guilty



PRETORIA, South Africa (AP) - Oscar Pistorius pleaded not guilty Monday to murdering his girlfriend on Valentine's Day last year, marking the start of the Olympian's murder trial that had South Africans watching live broadcasting of the proceedings against their country's most famous living citizen.

The trial started 90 minutes late with Pistorius pleading not guilty to all four charges against him: murder, two charges relating to discharge of firearm in a public place and one charge of illegal possession of ammunition. Before the trial started he walked past the victim's mother who says she came to court so she can "really look him in the eyes."

The double-amputee athlete is charged with murder with premeditation in the shooting death of girlfriend Reeva Steenkamp in the pre-dawn hours of Feb. 14, 2013. Pistorius says he shot Steenkamp by accident, thinking she was an intruder inside his bathroom.

Steenkamp's mother, June, earlier entered the court dressed in black. She was quoted in the Pretoria News, which published an interview she gave to a British newspaper, saying that she wants to see Pistorius.

"I want to look at Oscar, really look him in the eyes, and see for myself the truth about what he did to Reeva," said June Steenkamp, 67. "Whatever the court decides at the end of his trial, I will be ready to forgive him ... But first I want to force him to look at me, Reeva's mother, and see the pain and anguish he has inflicted on me. I feel I need that."

Pistorius arrived at the high court in Pretoria wearing a dark gray suit and black tie. June Steenkamp was seated on the same bench as Pistorius' family, and behind Pistorius so there is a possibility that their eyes will lock during the trial.

The delay was caused by a problem with one of the Afrikaans language interpreters, the court official said. Also, a woman attempted to intervene in the court proceedings saying she knew Pistorius' late mother, Sheila, and had knowledge of Pistorius' character. The woman said she wanted to speak to the judge, but was escorted out of court by officials and two policemen.

Earlier, a drone carrying cameras flew over the entrance to the courthouse in gray, drizzly skies. Several broadcasters massed live broadcast satellite trucks around the courthouse. A 24-hour cable channel devoted to covering the trial was launched in South Africa on Sunday.

Prosecutors charged Pistorius, 27, with murder and say it was with premeditation. They say they will seek a life sentence if Pistorius is convicted. South Africa has no death penalty.

If convicted on the murder charge, Pistorius could be sent to prison for at least 25 years before the chance of parole, the minimum time someone must serve if given a life sentence in South Africa.

The state says Pistorius intentionally killed Steenkamp by shooting her through a toilet door after an argument. Pistorius denies murder and says he killed his girlfriend by mistake when he fired four times through the door thinking there was a dangerous nighttime intruder on the other side.

A lesser sentence is possible if Pistorius is found guilty of murder but without premeditation. He also could be convicted of culpable homicide, South Africa's version of manslaughter in which someone is killed through negligence.

Pistorius also faces a second charge of illegal possession of ammunition for bullets found at his Pretoria house that he allegedly didn't have proper licensing for. Prosecutors say he also will be indicted Monday with two more gun charges relating to him allegedly shooting in public on two separate occasions before Steenkamp's killing.

The gun charges reportedly relate to him allegedly shooting out the sunroof of a car in one incident and another when he allegedly fired a gun inside a restaurant, apparently by mistake.

Judge Thokozile Masipa, hearing the biggest trial of her career, will ultimately pronounce the champion runner innocent or guilty and will decide on any sentence. South Africa has no trial by jury.

Parts of the trial will be broadcast on live television, both in South Africa and across the world.
Oscar Pistorius Pleads Not Guilty In Murder Trial

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jennifer March 03 2014 at 12:18 PM

It's not going to do any good to look into his eyes, I can promise you that pain will remain in your heart. For me, it's almost seven years since my daughter was shot. She was always wonder why did this happen to my little girl? The pain for me is unbearable and it does not get better with time. I do hope this family finds peace and comfort. Praying that justice is served for this family.

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1 reply
karl leinfelder jennifer March 04 2014 at 3:51 PM

I know exactly what you are talking about. We lost our son a couple of years ago on Valentines day and I really feel so terrible.

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cdavecrz March 03 2014 at 9:47 AM

Why doesn't huff post label all their material so one knows not to open it!!!!!! Their news items freeze,,, are supper slow,,, keep renewing,, and are most times B/S headlines, and unfinished stories.

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Mary March 03 2014 at 1:04 PM

I don't believe him. She was dressed and on her cell phone which should reveal who she was talking to. Didn't he look at her side of the bed when he grabbed his gun? Didn't he hear her voice talking on the phone? Did he stop to put on his legs? Already the first witness for the prosecution said she heard a woman scream, then the shots. Doesn't add up.

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HELLO SHELDON March 03 2014 at 1:03 PM

HE IS FOOL OF SH*T

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fobesq March 03 2014 at 10:01 AM

A "life sentence" is 25 years? The value of a life taken is 25 years? This is ridiculous.

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1 reply
shcashdan fobesq March 03 2014 at 11:09 AM

It's a lot better than the many ridiculous sentences handed out in the U.S., such as probation for the young Texan whose drunk driving killed 4 others: "affluenza."

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bryanmerrittper2 March 03 2014 at 11:02 AM

This guy is guilty as sin he killed her on purpose no one is that stupid. I hope they hang the dirty rat.

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jvmcfla@aim.com March 03 2014 at 10:15 AM

Of course he knew it was his girlfriend in the bathroom behind a closed door... It is human nature that you would wake the person sleeping beside you if you heard an intruder or at least glance over to the person sleeping next to you. He killed her in a fit of rage, whether or not it was over another man and he could not contain his jealousy or something else, he murdered her with his gun in cold blood! How dare he think that we are going to believe that he thought there was intruder the night of the murder, that is such an insult, nice try though! He will end up doing the twenty five years in prison which in my opinion is NOT enough to make up for taking a human life!

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2 replies
MICHAEL jvmcfla@aim.com March 03 2014 at 10:23 AM

i agree. and if you dont wake them, you would at least look to see they were there.

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pamiss45 jvmcfla@aim.com March 03 2014 at 10:35 AM

If I remember correctly, she left the home and returned a couple hours later. She let herself in and went in to the bathroom. I am not advocating his shooting at a bathroom door but then I have both my legs and might be able to escape a suspected intruder.

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1 reply
vafilec_39 pamiss45 March 03 2014 at 10:48 AM

What about the screams for help. Seems logical at that point it all started before she went into the bathroom.

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MICHAEL March 03 2014 at 10:22 AM

this should be interesting. how do you explain blowing thru a bathroom door when you dont have any idea who's behind it. honestly, if it wasnt out right murder, it was definately manslaughter.

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1 reply
vafilec_39 MICHAEL March 03 2014 at 10:46 AM

When you are in bed with a loved one and you hear an intruder, you wake your "love" and say either go hide or stay still I think we have an intruder. If he had done that and his "love" was not there, would it not be logical to assume that your "love" is in the bathroom. He should have gone for the "mental" plea. His story does not even apply to an educated person.

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1 reply
Debbie Richmond vafilec_39 March 03 2014 at 11:10 AM

Plus, the prosecuters say he took time to put on his prosthetics, or he already had them on because of the height of the bullets in the door. He said he was in bed and heard an intruder. He doesn`t sleep with them on, but yet he took time to put them on. If you are that worried about an intruder, you will hardly think about taking time to do anything other than grabbing something to (hopefully) defend yourself with. He`ll probably get off scott-free.

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b80toddman March 03 2014 at 10:30 AM

Who in the hell believes this? I SURE DON'T

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mariaisabelv54 March 03 2014 at 10:35 AM

Exactly as jvmcfla@aim.com said. He is a liar. I saw the bathroom on dateline investigation. First he hits her with a bat on the head. You can only imagine how hard he hit her. Reeva runs in the bathroom to protect herself. The bathroom is small and open space with nowhere she could hide and protect herself. Then he shoots thru thru the bathroom door and kills her. He wanted her dead. I pray he gets treated and sentenced exactly like Jordan Vandersloot in Peru. How can he say he is not guilty???? Does he believe we believe his stupid lies. Murderer. His career is dead. Karma will get him.

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