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Pistorius testifies at his murder trial

Emotional Pistorius Testifies


BY GERALD IMRAY AND CHRISTOPHER TORCHIA

ASSOCIATED PRESS

PRETORIA, South Africa (AP) -- Stifling sobs, Oscar Pistorius took the witness stand Monday in his murder trial and apologized to the family of the girlfriend he shot dead, describing himself as being traumatized and awakening from nightmares to the "smell of blood."

Pistorius' voice quavered so much and was so low that Judge Thokozile Masipa asked him to speak up to the packed courtroom as he described his remorse for having killed Reeva Steenkamp on Feb. 14, 2013. He said he mistook her for an intruder when he fired four times through a locked toilet stall door in his home. Prosecutors said he shot her as she screamed in terror after they had an argument in the predawn hours of Valentine's Day.

"There hasn't been a moment since this tragedy happened that I haven't thought about your family," the double-amputee star athlete said as he addressed the courtroom and Steenkamp's mother, June, who looked straight at him, stone-faced.

"I wake up every morning and you're the first people I think of, the first people I pray for ... I was simply trying to protect Reeva. I can promise that when she went to bed that night she felt loved," Pistorius said.

Prosecutors allege the Olympian murdered her with premeditation by shooting her in the head, arm and hip after an argument and have sought to paint him as a hothead with an inflated sense of entitlement and an obsession with firearms.

In his testimony, Pistorius also said he is on antidepressant medicine and now has trouble sleeping, and described one night when he went to hide in a closet after waking up in "a panic."

"I climbed into a cupboard and I phoned my sister to come and sit by me, which she did for a while," Pistorius said.

His testimony on day 17 of his trial in Pretoria came on the same day his defense opened its case. Legal experts said it was crucial to his case that he testify to explain why he shot Steenkamp. Pistorius faces 25 years to life in prison if convicted of premeditated murder for Steenkamp's killing.

He spoke in a soft, quavering voice while making his apology and describing what he said was his fragile state. Later, Pistorius grew more settled and confident as defense lawyer Barry Roux led him through questions about his childhood, his athletics career and how he overcame his disability to run at top track meets. Pistorius's life story is one that impressed many people around the world, before he killed Steenkamp.

Pistorius also described the positive affect his mother Sheila had on his life after he was born with a congenital condition and had to have his lower legs amputated when he was 11 months old, and the grief he felt at her death when he was a teenager.

He also described how as a family they had "security concerns" and his mother slept with a gun under a pillow on her bed.

He was asked by Roux to talk about a 2009 boat crash when he suffered serious facial injuries. He said the accident had a "massive impact," and that it made him become fearful, withdrawn, more vigilant about personal safety and more focused on his sporting career. He denied media reports at the time that he had been drinking alcohol before the boat accident

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bemystic11 April 07 2014 at 4:48 PM

David, the verdict will be decided by the judge, not a jury.

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1 reply
BarB bemystic11 April 07 2014 at 5:35 PM

DO YOU THINK HE IS NOT PLAYING TO THE JUDGE....AND THE PUBLIC THERE, SINCE HE FULLY EXPECTS TO BE FREED IN THAT CLIMATE WHICH NEVER USES JAIL WHEN THEY DON'T ABSOLUTELY HAVE TO...THIS TIME THEY HAVE TO.....BUT, THINK THE JUDGE WILL BE SWAYED BY HIS 'HERO' STATUS AS MOST THERE ALWAYS ARE....IF U LOOK UP THEIR 'JUSTICE' SYSTEM

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llenvz April 07 2014 at 3:34 PM

BOOHOO!What aphoney he turned out to be!That poor woman,how tradgic!

Flag Reply +7 rate up
ndeye April 07 2014 at 12:58 PM

I belive he is lying to save his sorry ass.

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donafar April 07 2014 at 1:06 PM

Guilty. Stop with all the B.S. Next.....?.....

Flag Reply +5 rate up
quiltmagic April 07 2014 at 1:07 PM

In his testimony, Pistorius also said he is on antidepressant medicine and now has trouble sleeping, and described one night when he went to hide in a closet after waking up in "a panic."

Pistorius: if--or when, you are convicted, you better stay awake in jail...and I hope they take away your antidepressants. You should feel the full effects after killing your girlfriend on Valentine's Day!--Heaven help you to control your anger. You should be locked up so you can concentrate on why you are so out of control. Being isolated from society will prevent you from lashing out at anyone else, and killing them..... from being paranoid? Doesn't matter why you did it, YOU SHOT a woman you loved, AND YOU NEED HELP.

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jlcfenton April 07 2014 at 1:11 PM

This guy shot his girlfried several times before actually killing her. During the initial shots, she was screaming. He continued to fire thru the door. He killed her and he KNEW what he was doing. He is guilty!

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newteam4 April 07 2014 at 1:11 PM

The least case is aggravated murder and not premeditated. No one, but no one gets up sleeping next to his wife or lover and hears something and doesn't first wake them and take care that they are safe. Never bought his story and hopefully the judge doesn't buy it either. We'll see.

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1 reply
donnahdesigns5 newteam4 April 07 2014 at 1:38 PM

I agree. Most men seek to protect their mate before themself.

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1 reply
dm2ndsight donnahdesigns5 April 07 2014 at 2:39 PM

yes your right, great point--the key word being "men." Men also take responsibility for the actions and don't blame nonexistent intruders.

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Ophelia April 07 2014 at 1:18 PM

This guy needs to be nominated for an academy award for his over-the-top acting. If I was facing 25 years to life in prison I would also fake my mental condition and continue the crying, break downs and whatever other type of mental deformities I think necessary in to try to convince the jury of my innocence.

This guy need to be placed so far back in a prison cell that he is never able to see the light of day again, so he can live the rest of his life with his conscious and think about what he has done!

Flag Reply +4 rate up
jt2 April 07 2014 at 3:30 PM

I'm pretty sure that the woman's family would love to have her alive to be in "a fragile state" but this self absorbed guy is telling them about his state instead. If this guy gets a slap on the wrist from the judge, he will end up doing something just as bad before too long. He's already gotten away with too much before this. Hope someone else doesn't have to die for him to get what he deserves.

Flag Reply +7 rate up
John April 07 2014 at 1:28 PM

WACKO........ BET HE'S THE FIRST PERSON THEY THINK OF TOO........

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