Pistorius trial witness: 'bloodcurdling screams' then shots

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Pistorius trial witness: 'bloodcurdling screams' then shots
Oscar Pistorius's brother Carl Pistorius, leaves the high court in Pretoria, South Africa, Tuesday, April 15, 2014. Pistorius is charged with murder for the shooting death of his girlfriend, Reeva Steenkamp, on Valentines Day in 2013. (AP Photo/Themba Hadebe)
Carl Pistorius appears in court on the second day of his brother Oscar Pistorius' trial at the high court in Pretoria, South Africa, Tuesday, March 4, 2014. Pistorius is charged with murder for the shooting death of his girlfriend, Reeva Steenkamp, on Valentine's Day in 2013. (AP Photo/Kim Ludbrook,Pool)
Oscar Pistorius, front, gets a hug from his brother, Carl, back, in court in Pretoria, South Africa, Thursday, April 17, 2014. Pistorius is charged with the murder of his girlfriend, Reeva Steenkamp, on Valentines Day in 2013. (AP Photo/Alet Pretorius, Pool)
Oscar Pistorius' siblings Carl, left, and Aimee Pistorius, right, attend the ongoing murder trial of their brother in Pretoria, South Africa, Monday June 30, 2014. The trial resumed Monday, after one month during which mental health experts evaluated the athlete to determine if he has an anxiety disorder that could have influenced his actions on the night he killed girlfriend Reeva Steenkamp. (AP Photo/Phill Magakoe, Pool)
FILE - In this Tuesday May 20, 2014 file photo brother of murder accused, Oscar Pistorius, left, Carl Pistorius, right, speaks with his brother in court in Pretoria, South Africa. Carl Pistorius has been "badly hurt" in a car accident after a head-on collision on a highway in South Africa, Friday, Aug. 1, 2014. (AP Photo/Siphiwe Sibeko, Pool, File)
Oscar Pistorius reacts as he listens to evidence by a pathologist in court in Pretoria, South Africa, Monday, April 7, 2014. A pathologist called as the first defense witness in the Oscar Pistorius murder trial offered a different sequence for the shots that killed Reeva Steenkamp and also testified Monday that if the double-amputee athlete fired his 9 mmm pistol in two quick bursts, as Pistorius claims he did, his girlfriend probably didn’t have time to scream. Pistorius is charged with murder for the shooting death of his girlfriend Reeva Steenkamp, on Valentines Day 2013. (AP Photo/Deaan Vivier, Pool)
Oscar Pistorius talks on a mobile phone while arriving in a car at the Weskoppies Psychiatric Hospital on May 26 2014 in Pretoria. A South African judge on May 20, 2014 ordered Oscar Pistorius to undergo up to 30 days of psychiatric tests to establish if he is 'criminally responsible' for killing his girlfriend on Valentine's Day 2013. AFP PHOTO / MUJAHID SAFODIEN (Photo credit should read MUJAHID SAFODIEN/AFP/Getty Images)
Oscar Pistorius looks back in a courtroom at the high court in Pretoria, South Africa, Tuesday, May 6, 2014. A man who lives next to the house where Pistorius fatally shot his girlfriend has testified at the athlete's murder trial about the night of the killing, saying he heard a man crying loudly and that he called the security of the housing estate for help. (AP Photo/Mike Hutchings, Pool)
Oscar Pistorius is seated in a courtroom at the high court in Pretoria, South Africa, Tuesday, May 6, 2014. A man who lives next to the house where Pistorius fatally shot his girlfriend has testified at the athlete's murder trial about the night of the killing, saying he heard a man crying loudly and that he called the security of the housing estate for help. (AP Photo/Mike Hutchings, Pool)
Oscar Pistorius, right, talks with his defense attorney Barry Roux, left, in a courtroom at the high court in Pretoria, South Africa, Tuesday, May 6, 2014. A man who lives next to the house where Pistorius fatally shot his girlfriend has testified at the athlete's murder trial about the night of the killing, saying he heard a man crying loudly and that he called the security of the housing estate for help. (AP Photo/Mike Hutchings, Pool)
Oscar Pistorius looks back as he arrives at the high court in Pretoria, South Africa, Tuesday, May 6, 2014. Using witness accounts of a panicked nighttime phone call from Pistorius begging for help and his desperate pleas for Reeva Steenkamp to stay alive, the defense at his murder trial tried to reinforce its case Monday that the double-amputee Olympian fatally shot his girlfriend in a tragic error of judgment. (AP Photo/Themba Hadebe)
Oscar Pistorius, center, leaves after the court adjourned for the day in Pretoria, South Africa, Tuesday, May 6, 2014. Pistorius is charged with murder for the shooting death of his girlfriend, Reeva Steenkamp, on Valentines Day in 2013. (AP Photo/Themba Hadebe)
Oscar Pistorius weeps as he listens to evidence by a pathologist in court in Pretoria, South Africa, Monday, April 7, 2014. Pistorius is charged with murder for the shooting death of his girlfriend Reeva Steenkamp, on Valentines Day 2013. (AP Photo/Themba Hadebe, Pool)
Oscar Pistorius talks on a mobile phone while arriving in a car at the Weskoppies Psychiatric Hospital on May 26 2014 in Pretoria. A South African judge on May 20, 2014 ordered Oscar Pistorius to undergo up to 30 days of psychiatric tests to establish if he is 'criminally responsible' for killing his girlfriend on Valentine's Day 2013. AFP PHOTO/MUJAHID SAFODIEN (Photo credit should read MUJAHID SAFODIEN/AFP/Getty Images)
June Steenkamp, right, mother of the late Reeva Steenkamp listens to evidence by a pathologist during the murder trial of Osacr Pistorius in court in Pretoria, South Africa, Monday, April 7, 2014. Pistorius is charged with murder for the shooting death of his girlfriend Reeva Steenkamp, on Valentines Day 2013. (AP Photo/Themba Hadebe, Pool)
Oscar Pistorius gets a hug from his aunt Lois Pistroius in court in Pretoria, South Africa, Monday, April 7, 2014. Pistorius is charged with murder for the shooting death of his girlfriend Reeva Steenkamp, on Valentines Day 2013. (AP Photo/Deaan Vivier, Pool)
Friend of the late Reeva Steenkamp, Kim Myers, listens to a witness giving evidence during the murder trial of Oscar Pistorius, in Pretoria, South Africa, Tuesday May 6, 2014 Pistorius is charged with the shooting death of his girlfriend Reeva Steenkamp on Valentine's Day in 2013. (AP Photo. (AP Photo/Alon Skuy, Pool)
BY COURT ORDER, THIS IMAGE IS FREE TO USE. PRETORIA, SOUTH AFRICA - MARCH 5 (SOUTH AFRICA OUT): Oscar Pistorius at the Pretoria High Court on March 5, 2014, in Pretoria, South Africa. Oscar Pistorius, stands accused of the murder of his girlfriend, Reeva Steenkamp, on February 14, 2014. This is Pistorius' official trial, the result of which will determine the paralympian athlete's fate. (Photo by Alon Skuy/The Times/Gallo Images/Getty Images)
BY COURT ORDER, THIS IMAGE IS FREE TO USE. PRETORIA, SOUTH AFRICA - MARCH 5 (SOUTH AFRICA OUT): Oscar Pistorius at the Pretoria High Court on March 5, 2014, in Pretoria, South Africa. Oscar Pistorius, stands accused of the murder of his girlfriend, Reeva Steenkamp, on February 14, 2014. This is Pistorius' official trial, the result of which will determine the paralympian athlete's fate. (Photo by Alon Skuy/The Times/Gallo Images/Getty Images)
BY COURT ORDER, THIS IMAGE IS FREE TO USE. PRETORIA, SOUTH AFRICA - MARCH 5 (SOUTH AFRICA OUT): Oscar Pistorius at the Pretoria High Court on March 5, 2014, in Pretoria, South Africa. Oscar Pistorius, stands accused of the murder of his girlfriend, Reeva Steenkamp, on February 14, 2014. This is Pistorius' official trial, the result of which will determine the paralympian athlete's fate. (Photo by Alon Skuy/The Times/Gallo Images/Getty Images)
BY COURT ORDER, THIS IMAGE IS FREE TO USE. PRETORIA, SOUTH AFRICA - MARCH 5 (SOUTH AFRICA OUT): Oscar Pistorius at the Pretoria High Court on March 5, 2014, in Pretoria, South Africa. Oscar Pistorius, stands accused of the murder of his girlfriend, Reeva Steenkamp, on February 14, 2014. This is Pistorius' official trial, the result of which will determine the paralympian athlete's fate. (Photo by Alon Skuy/The Times/Gallo Images/Getty Images)
South African Paralympic athlete Oscar Pistorius, accused of murdering his girlfriend Reeva Steenkamp, gestures on the third day of his trial at the North Gauteng High Court in Pretoria, on March 5, 2014. Three days into the athlete's trial for his lover's premeditated killing, the state called Pistorius' friend Kevin Lerena to testify about one of three other charges against Pistorius. AFP PHOTO/ POOL/ MIKE HUTCHINGS (Photo credit should read MIKE HUTCHINGS/AFP/Getty Images)
South African Paralympic athlete Oscar Pistorius (L), accused of murdering his girlfriend Reeva Steenkamp,confers with his lawyer Barry Roux (R) on the third day of his trial at the North Gauteng High Court in Pretoria, on March 5, 2014. Three days into the athlete's trial for his lover's premeditated killing, the state called Pistorius' friend Kevin Lerena to testify about one of three other charges against Pistorius. AFP PHOTO/ POOL/ MIKE HUTCHINGS (Photo credit should read MIKE HUTCHINGS/AFP/Getty Images)
South African Paralympic athlete Oscar Pistorius, accused of murdering his girlfriend Reeva Steenkamp, attends the third day of his trial at the North Gauteng High Court in Pretoria, on March 5, 2014. Three days into the athlete's trial for his lover's premeditated killing, the state called Pistorius' friend Kevin Lerena to testify about one of three other charges against Pistorius. AFP PHOTO/ POOL/ ALON SKUY (Photo credit should read ALON SKUYI/AFP/Getty Images)
Oscar Pistorius is comforted by a relative in court, on March 5, 2014. The double amputee and Paralympian is appearing in the North Gauteng High Court in Pretoria, South Africa. Pistorius is accused of the murder of model Reeva Steenkamp on February 14, 2013. AFP PHOTO: Alon Skuyi/Pool (Photo credit should read ALON SKUYI/AFP/Getty Images)
Carl Pistorius, at center in blue suit, the brother of Oscar Pistorius is escorted by police as he arrives at the high court in Pretoria, South Africa, Monday, March 3, 2014. Oscar Pistorius is charged with murder with premeditation in the shooting death of girlfriend Reeva Steenkamp in the pre-dawn hours of Valentine's Day 2013. (AP Photo/Schalk van Zuydam)
South African Paralympian star Oscar Pistorius (C), accused of murdering his girlfriend Reeva Steenkamp, attends the opening day of his trial, at the High Court in Pretoria on March 3, 2014. Pistorius, 27, appeared in court and on television screens around the world to answer charges that he wilfully shot his gilfriend Reeva Steenkamp dead on Valentine's Day 2013 through a locked bathroom door at his home in the city, and faces a life sentence if convicted. AFP PHOTO / POOL / THEMBA HADEBE (Photo credit should read THEMBA HADEBE/AFP/Getty Images)
South African amputee Olympian sprinter Oscar Pistorius (L) arrives, watched by June Steenkamp (R), mother of Reeva Steenkamp, in the High Court in Pretoria on March 3, 2014 on the opening day of his murder trial, accused of murdering his girlfriend Reeva Steenkamp. Pistorius, 27, appeared in court and on television screens around the world to answer charges that he wilfully shot his gilfriend Reeva Steenkamp dead on Valentine's Day 2013 through a locked bathroom door at his home in the city, and faces a life sentence if convicted. AFP PHOTO / POOL / THEMBA HADEBE (Photo credit should read THEMBA HADEBE/AFP/Getty Images)
Oscar Pistorius smiles in court during his trial at the high court in Pretoria, South Africa, Monday, March 3, 2014. Pistorius is charged with murder with premeditation in the shooting death of girlfriend Reeva Steenkamp in the pre-dawn hours of Valentine's Day 2013. (AP Photo/Herman Verwey Media24-Pool)
South African amputee Olympian sprinter Oscar Pistorius (L), accused of murdering his girlfriend Reeva Steenkamp, looks at his watch on the opening day of his trial at the High Court in Pretoria on March 3, 2014. Pistorius, 27, appeared in court and on television screens around the world to answer charges that he wilfully shot his gilfriend Reeva Steenkamp dead on Valentine's Day 2013 through a locked bathroom door at his home in the city, and faces a life sentence if convicted. AFP PHOTO / POOL / THEMBA HADEBE (Photo credit should read THEMBA HADEBE/AFP/Getty Images)
This Nov. 4, 2012 photo shows Oscar Pistorius and girlfriend Reeva Steenkamp at an awards ceremony in Johannesburg, South Africa. A lawyer for the family of Oscar Pistorius' slain girlfriend said Tuesday Aug. 20 2013, that representatives of the two families were in contact, possibly over an out-of-court settlement that would compensate Steenkamp's parents for her killing by the double-amputee Olympian, Pistorius. (AP Photo/City Press, Lucky Nxumalo) SOUTH AFRICA OUT
PRETORIA, SOUTH AFRICA - AUGUST 19: South African athlete Oscar Pistorius (L) prays with his sister Aimee Pistorius and brother Carl Pistorius prior to his indictment hearing in Pretoria Magistrates Court on August 19, 2013. Pistorius, 26 is accused of murdering his girlfriend Reeva Steenkamp which Pistorius denies claiming he mistook Steenkamp for an intruder. The indictment was served and the trial date of March 3, 2014 has now been set. (Photo by Jemal Countess/Getty Images)
The Gauteng ANC Women's League held a march on February 14, 2014 to the Pretoria Magistrates Court to commemorate South African model Reeva Steenkamp who was shot on this day a year ago by her boyfriend, Olympic athlete Oscar Pistorius. Pistorius said on February 14 he was consumed with 'sorrow' as he marked one year since he shot dead his girlfriend on Valentine's Day in what he maintains was an accident. In a case that grabbed international headlines, the world-famous double amputee, 27, shot Reeva Steenkamp through his toilet door, claiming he mistook her for an intruder at his upmarket Pretoria home. AFP PHOTO/STRINGER (Photo credit should read STRINGER/AFP/Getty Images)
PRETORIA, SOUTH AFRICA - AUGUST 19: South African athlete Oscar Pistorius (L) speaks with his lawyer Kenny Oldwage in Pretoria Magistrates Court prior to an indictment hearing on August 19, 2013 in Pretoria, South Africa. Pistorius, 26 is accused of murdering his girlfriend Reeva Steenkamp which Pistorius denies claiming he mistook Steenkamp for an intruder. The indictment was served and the trial date of March 3, 2014 has now been set. (Photo by Jemal Countess/Getty Images)
PRETORIA, SOUTH AFRICA - AUGUST 19: (SOUTH AFRICA OUT) Oscar Pistorius prays with sister Aimee and brother Carl before he appears in the Pretoria Magistrates court on August 19, 2013, in Pretoria, South Africa. Pistorius is accused of the murder of Reeva Steenkamp on February 14, 2013. He faces two charges, murder and contravention of the Firearms Control Act. The case has been postponed to March 2014. (Photo by Alet Pretorius/Foto24/Gallo Images/Getty Images)
PRETORIA, SOUTH AFRICA - AUGUST 19: (SOUTH AFRICA OUT) Carl Pistorius, Oscar's brother, arrives at the Pretoria Magistrates court on August 19, 2013, in Pretoria, South Africa. Oscar Pistorius is accused of the murder of Reeva Steenkamp on February 14, 2013. He faces two charges, murder and contravention of the Firearms Control Act. The case has been postponed to March 2014. (Photo by Herman Verwey/Foto24/Gallo Images/Getty Images)
PRETORIA, SOUTH AFRICA - AUGUST 19: (SOUTH AFRICA OUT) Oscar Pistorius appears in the Pretoria Magistrates court on August 19, 2013, in Pretoria, South Africa. Pistorius is accused of the murder of Reeva Steenkamp on February 14, 2013. He faces two charges, murder and contravention of the Firearms Control Act. The case has been postponed to March 2014. (Photo by Alet Pretorius/Foto24/Gallo Images/Getty Images)
PRETORIA, SOUTH AFRICA - AUGUST 19: (SOUTH AFRICA OUT)Oscar Pistorius arrives at the Pretoria Magistrates court on August 19, 2013, in Pretoria, South Africa. Pistorius is accused of the murder of Reeva Steenkamp on February 14, 2013. He faces two charges, murder and contravention of the Firearms Control Act. The case has been postponed to March 2014. (Photo by Herman Verwey/Foto24/Gallo Images/Getty Images)
PRETORIA, SOUTH AFRICA - AUGUST 19: (SOUTH AFRICA OUT) Gina Meyers, Reeva Steenkamps close friend, in the Pretoria Magistrates court on August 19, 2013, in Pretoria, South Africa. Oscar Pistorius is accused of the murder of Reeva Steenkamp on February 14, 2013. He faces two charges, murder and contravention of the Firearms Control Act. The case has been postponed to March 2014. (Photo by Alet Pretorius/Foto24/Gallo Images/Getty Images)
PRETORIA, SOUTH AFRICA - AUGUST 19: (SOUTH AFRICA OUT) Oscar Pistorius prays with sister Aimee and brother Carl before he appears in the Pretoria Magistrates court on August 19, 2013, in Pretoria, South Africa. Pistorius is accused of the murder of Reeva Steenkamp on February 14, 2013. He faces two charges, murder and contravention of the Firearms Control Act. The case has been postponed to March 2014. (Photo by Alet Pretorius/Foto24/Gallo Images/Getty Images)
A man walks by newspaper advertising placard marking the anniversary of the killing of South African model Reeva Steenkamp by her boyfriend, Olympic athlete Oscar Pistorius on March 14, 2014 in Cape Town, South Africa. Pistorius said on February 14 he was consumed with 'sorrow' as he marked one year since he shot dead his girlfriend on Valentine's Day in what he maintains was an accident. In a case that grabbed international headlines, the world-famous double amputee, 27, shot Reeva Steenkamp through his toilet door, claiming he mistook her for an intruder at his upmarket Pretoria home. AFP PHOTO/GIANLUIGI GUERCIA (Photo credit should read GIANLUIGI GUERCIA/AFP/Getty Images)
FILE - In this Feb. 19, 2013 file photo, a mourner carries a program at the funeral for Reeva Steenkamp, portrait, Port Elizabeth, South Africa. A lawyer for the family of Oscar Pistorius' slain girlfriend said Tuesday Aug. 20 2013, that representatives of the two families were in contact, possibly over an out-of-court settlement that would compensate Reeva Steenkamp's parents for her killing by the double-amputee Olympian. (AP Photo/Schalk van Zuydam, File)
JOHANNESBURG, SOUTH AFRICA NOVEMBER 16: (SOUTH AFRICA OUT) Oscar Pistorius at the Canteen at Maboneng Precint on November 15, 2013 in Johannesburg, South Africa. The double amputee, who now spends most of his time with his family, said he was very doing well, although he sometimes gets anvious about his upcoming court case. (Photo by Johan Eybers/Foto24/Gallo Images/Getty Images)
June Steenkamp (3rd R), mother of Reeva Steenkamp, attends the opening day of the trial of South African amputee Olympian sprinter Oscar Pistorius accused of murdering his girlfriend Reeva Steenkamp, at the High Court in Pretoria on March 3, 2014. Pistorius, 27, appeared in court and on television screens around the world to answer charges that he wilfully shot his gilfriend Reeva Steenkamp dead on Valentine's Day 2013 through a locked bathroom door at his home in the city, and faces a life sentence if convicted. AFP PHOTO / POOL / THEMBA HADEBE (Photo credit should read THEMBA HADEBE/AFP/Getty Images)
PRETORIA, SOUTH AFRICA - MAY 20(SOUTH AFRICA OUT): Oscar Pistorius hugs his brother, Carl Pistorius at the Pretoria High Court on May 20, 2014, in Pretoria, South Africa. Pistorius, stands accused of the murder of his girlfriend, Reeva Steenkamp, on February 14, 2013. This is his' official trial, the result of which will determine the paralympian athlete's fate. (Photo by Deaan Vivier/Foto24/Gallo Images - Pool /Getty Images)
PRETORIA, SOUTH AFRICA - MAY 20(SOUTH AFRICA OUT): Oscar Pistorius arrives at the Pretoria High Court on May 20, 2014, in Pretoria, South Africa. Oscar Pistorius, stands accused of the murder of his girlfriend, Reeva Steenkamp, on February 14, 2013. This is Pistorius' official trial, the result of which will determine the paralympian athlete's fate. (Photo by Deaan Vivier/Foto24/Gallo Images/Getty Images)
PRETORIA, SOUTH AFRICA - MAY 20(SOUTH AFRICA OUT): Oscar Pistorius talks to his brother, Carl Pistorius at the Pretoria High Court on May 20, 2014, in Pretoria, South Africa. Pistorius, stands accused of the murder of his girlfriend, Reeva Steenkamp, on February 14, 2013. This is his' official trial, the result of which will determine the paralympian athlete's fate. (Photo by Deaan Vivier/Foto24/Gallo Images/Getty Images)
PRETORIA, SOUTH AFRICA - MAY 14: Oscar Pistorius leaves North Gauteng High Court after the judge ordered that he should undergo mental evaluation on May 14, 2014 in Pretoria, South Africa. Judge Thokozile Masipa has ordered Pistorius should undergo a mental evaluation as an out-patient at a clinic. Pistorius, aged 27, is accused of murdering his girlfriend Reeva Steenkamp. Pistorius denies the allegation claiming he mistook Steenkamp for an intruder inside their home on Valentines Day 2013. (Photo by Christopher Furlong/Getty Images)
PRETORIA, SOUTH AFRICA - MAY 14: Oscar Pistorius leaves North Gauteng High Court after the judge ordered that he should undergo mental evaluation on May 14, 2014 in Pretoria, South Africa. Judge Thokozile Masipa has ordered Pistorius should undergo a mental evaluation as an out-patient at a clinic. Pistorius, aged 27, is accused of murdering his girlfriend Reeva Steenkamp. Pistorius denies the allegation claiming he mistook Steenkamp for an intruder inside their home on Valentines Day 2013. (Photo by Christopher Furlong/Getty Images)
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(Reuters) - The first witness at Oscar Pistorius' murder trial told the court on Monday she heard "bloodcurdling screams" from a woman followed by shots, a dramatic opening to a case that could see one of global sport's most admired role models jailed for life.

Taking the stand after the Paralympic and Olympic star pleaded not guilty to murdering his girlfriend, model Reeva Steenkamp, on Valentine's Day last year, neighbor Michelle Burger testified that she was woken in the middle of the night by a woman shouting for help.

"I was still sitting in the bed and I heard her screams," Burger, who lives 177 meters (194 yards) from Pistorius' home in an adjacent housing complex, told the Pretoria High Court.

"She screamed terribly and she yelled for help. Then I also heard a man screaming for help. Three times he yelled for help," she said, speaking in Afrikaans through an interpreter.

Thinking it was a violent break-in - a possibility in crime-ridden South Africa - Burger said her husband called the private security firm guarding their upmarket Pretoria housing estate before the pair heard more shouts.

"I heard the screams again. It was worse. It was more intense," said Burger, a Pretoria University economics lecturer. "She was very scared," she added, her voice cracking with emotion.

"Just after her screams, I heard four shots. Four gun-shots," she said. "Bang ... bang, bang, bang."

"It was very traumatic for me. You could hear that it was bloodcurdling screams." After the final shot, the screams "started fading", she added later.

Throughout Burger's testimony, the 27-year-old Pistorius - described by Time magazine in 2012 as "the definition of global inspiration" and named as one of the world's 100 most influential people - sat impassively in the courtroom, staring at the floor.

The athlete, who was born without lower legs but reached the 2012 Olympic 400 meters semi-final using carbon-fiber "blades", argues that Steenkamp's killing was a tragic accident after he mistook her for an intruder hiding in the toilet.

Burger steadfastly maintained her testimony despite a probing cross examination by lead defense advocate Barry Roux.

After the first day's hearing, Pistorius left the court through a scrum of photographers and television cameras before being bundled into a waiting silver SUV.

"NOT GUILTY" PLEA

Earlier, a somber Pistorius, dressed in dark suit, white shirt and black tie, stood before Judge Thokozile Masipa to plead 'not guilty' to murdering law graduate Steenkamp, a women's rights campaigner and familiar face on South Africa's celebrity party scene.

He also pleaded 'not guilty' to several other firearms charges, including one of discharging a pistol under the table of a posh Johannesburg restaurant and another of putting a bullet through the sun-roof of a former girlfriend's car.

When he entered the packed courtroom, Steenkamp's mother, June, followed him with her gaze. Her father, Barry, was not in court after recently suffering a stroke.

Prosecutors are seeking to prove that Pistorius fired four rounds from a 9 mm pistol through the door of the toilet in a deliberate attempt to kill whoever was behind it.

Steenkamp was hit three times, in the head, arm and hip. She was declared dead at the scene.

In his opening address, lawyer Kenny Oldwage, who with Roux forms part of Pistorius' defense team, sought to portray the state's allegations as an unwarranted character assassination of a young man deeply in love.

If the state succeeds in convincing Masipa of intent to kill, Pistorius could get life, in all likelihood a minimum of 25 years behind bars.

At his bail hearing last year, he admitted to culpable homicide, equivalent to manslaughter, which could see him put away for 15 years - or he could leave court a free man, with no more than a slap on the wrist and a suspended sentence.

Coming less than a month after the rape, disembowelling and murder of a teenager near Cape Town, the shooting of Steenkamp caused outrage and drew further attention to the high levels of violence against women in South Africa.

The trial before Masipa - juries were abolished by the apartheid government in the 1960s - is set to last a minimum of three weeks but with as many as 107 witnesses waiting to be called by either side it is almost certain to last far longer.

The proceedings have attracted massive media attention, with hundreds of foreign and domestic media camped outside the court, a reflection of Pistorius' status as a global symbol of triumph over physical adversity.

The trial is also being broadcast live, a first for South Africa, where, two decades after the end of apartheid, the justice system is often accused of favoring the rich and wealthy, who can afford the best lawyers and forensic experts.

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