Oscar Pistorius in court last week. / Antoine De Ras, AFP/Getty Images
While South African prosecutors charged premeditated murder, Olympic and Paralympic runner Oscar Pistorius sobbed as his affidavit was read in court Tuesday in Pretoria, saying he was "filled with horror and fear" when he mistook girlfriend Reeva Steenkamp for an intruder and accidentally shot and killed her.
At Tuesday's bail hearing, prosecutors said that after an argument, Pistorius attached his prosthetic legs, walked 7 meters (about 8 yards) to the bathroom where Steenkamp was hiding and shot her.
Pistorius' affidavit disputed the prosecution's claims. It was the first time Pistorius has provided his side of the story since the night his girlfriend of three months was killed.
Steenkamp, 29, was a model and a law school graduate who died at Pistorius' home in Pretoria on Valentine's Day. Conviction on the charge of premeditated murder carries a mandatory sentence of life in prison.
In his affidavit, Pistorius describes going to bed and waking up in the early hours of Feb. 14. He said he went out to the balcony to bring in a fan and close the sliding doors and blinds, according to the Associated Press, which obtained the affidavit.
He heard a noise in bathroom, and "felt a sense of terror rushing over me," the affidavit said.
Pistorius, who is a double amputee, said he was not wearing his prosthetics, but he has mobility on his stumps.
"I believed that someone had entered my house," the affidavit said. "I was too scared to switch a light on. I grabbed my 9mm pistol from underneath my bed."
He said he screamed to Steenkamp to call the police, thinking she was still in bed. He noticed the bathroom window was open, and he thought an intruder was hiding in the separate enclosed toilet, according to the affidavit.
"As I did not have my prosthetic legs on and felt extremely vulnerable, I knew I had to protect Reeva and myself," the affidavit said. "I believed that when the intruder/s came out of the toilet we would be in grave danger."
Pistorius said he fired shots and shouted again at Steenkamp. When he realized she wasn't in bed, "it dawned on me that it could have been Reeva who was in the toilet," the affidavit said.
Pistorius then said he put on his prosthetic legs, broke the toilet door open with a cricket bat and found Steenkamp shot inside, then ran downstairs with her.
"She died in my arms," Pistorius said in the affidavit.
Chief magistrate Desmond Nair, listening to details of the killing given by both sides, ruled for the prosecution. The hearing will continue Wednesday when Nair is expected to decide whether Pistorius, jailed since the killing, is eligible for bail.
Pistorius released a statement that was read to the court: "I fail to understand how I could be charged with murder as I had no intention to kill my girlfriend."
"We were deeply in love," Pistorius' affidavit said.
Pistorius said he had received death threats, so he kept a 9mm pistol under his bed, according to the affidavit.
Wearing a gray suit and tie, Pistorius broke down and sobbed at times during the hearing, prompting the magistrate to say he must try to compose himself, the Associated Press reported.
News of Pistorius' arrest has shocked South Africa just months after his story captured the world's attention during last summer's London Olympics and Paralympics. The 26-year-old became the first double amputee sprinter to compete at the Olympics and went on to win two gold medals at the Paralympics weeks later.
Steenkamp had gone to her boyfriend's home to spend the night with him on Feb. 14, the prosecution said. They say the couple had an argument before she locked herself in the bathroom. Pistorius fired four shots, and Steenkamp was hit three times, the prosecution said.
"If I arm myself, walk a distance and murder a person, that is premeditated," prosecutor Gerrie Nel said, according to Reuters. "The door is closed. There is no doubt. I walk 7 meters and I kill.
"The motive is, 'I want to kill.' That's it."
And Nel said the killing was premeditated because Pistorius had planned to say that he thought he was shooting an intruder and had told that story to his sister, Aimee.
According to the prosecution affadavit:
"(Pistorius) told his sister that he thought it was a burglar. We argue that this was part of the pre-planning to use as a defense. Why would a burglar lock himself into a toilet? There may have been an argument earlier between (Pistorius) and the deceased. ...
"There is no possible explanation to support his report that he thought that it was a burglar. Even (in) his own version, he readied himself, walked to the bathroom with the clear intention and plan to kill the 'burglar' and did so whilst the burglar was harmless and contained in a toilet. This in itself also constitutes premeditated murder of a 'defenseless burglar.' "
Defense lawyer Barry Roux disputed the premeditated murder charge. "All we really know is she locked herself behind the toilet door and she was shot," he said.
While Pistorius appeared in court, Steenkamp's family held a private memorial service in Port Elizabeth, a southern coastal town about 700 miles from Pretoria.
"There is space now in the family. We will miss her words," Steenkamp's brother, Adam, told reporters after the memorial service at Victoria Park Chapel, The Times of Johannesburg reported. Reporters were not allowed inside the service.
Mike Steenkamp, the victim's uncle, told reporters that his niece's body would be cremated and her ashes spread during another private ceremony, The Times reported.
Monday, Steenkamp's mother, June, said the family sought answers.
"Why? Why my little girl? Why did this happen? Why did he do this?" she said in an interview published Monday in The Times.
Pistorius' family has opposed the premeditated charge.
"After consulting with legal representatives, we deeply regret the allegation of premeditated murder," Arnold Pistorius, Oscar's uncle, told reporters. "We have no doubt there is no substance to the allegation and that the state's own case, including its own forensic evidence, strongly refutes any possibility of a premeditated murder or murder as such."
Known as the "Blade Runner" for his carbon-fiber running blades, Pistorius has had sponsorship deals with global companies such as Nike and Oakley.
Oakley released a statement Monday saying that it is suspending its contract with Pistorius, the Associated Press reported. Nike spokesman KeJuan Wilkins told the Associated Press that the company had no plans to use Pistorius in future ads. He did not say whether Nike previously had plans for Pistorius or whether it pulled current ads featuring him.
Pistorius' agent, Peet van Zyl, told the Associated Press that he had begun canceling races for the upcoming season, including Diamond League (pro circuit) appearances and exhibition races. Van Zyl said he has heard support from Pistorius' fans "really on a global scale."
Contributing: Associated Press
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Read the original story: Oscar Pistorius disputes premeditated murder charge in bail hearing