Pistorius weeps over murder charge
South African athlete Oscar Pistorius was seen with his head in his hands, as he was charged in court with the murder of his girlfriend.PT0M0S 620 349
A tearful Oscar Pistorius has been remanded in custody after being formally charged with the murder of his girlfriend.
He was wearing a dark suit, tie and blue shirt when he appeared in the Pretoria magistrates court on Friday.
He broke down in the dock as magistrate Desmond Nair formally charged him with the murder of Reeva Steenkamp, 29.
Remanded in custody ... Oscar Pistorius weeps in court in Pretoria. Photo: AP
A sobbing Oscar Pistorius has been formerly charged with the Valentine's Day murder of his model girlfriend.
The 26-year-old Paralympian gold medallist wept on Friday as Pretoria magistrate Desmond Nair announced a single charge of killing blonde covergirl Reeva Steenkamp.
The double amputee sat hunched as the court was told prosecutors would argue the murder was premeditated, a charge that could carry a life sentence.
Oscar Pistorius on his way to court in Pretoria. Photo: AP
Steenkamp, 29, who was due to appear in a celebrity reality show from this weekend, was shot four times at Pistorius's upmarket Pretoria home in the early hours of Thursday.
She was shot with his 9mm pistol, suffering wounds to the head and hand and died at the scene.
The Beeld newspaper, which first broke the dramatic news of his arrest, said on Friday the shots that killed Steenkamp were fired through a bathroom door, but there has been no police confirmation of this.
Shot dead ... Oscar Pistorius with model Reeva Steenkamp. Photo: Reuters
Pistorius stood with his face in his hands as he broke down in tears.The magistrate delayed Pistorius’ bail hearing until Tuesday and Wednesday and ruled that he must be held at a Pretoria police station until then.
Steenkamp, a model and law graduate who was dating Pistorius, was shot dead in his home in the city early on Thursday.
Pistorius, 26, dubbed "the Blade Runner" because of his double leg amputation and prosthetic running blades, has won six Paralympic gold medals. He became the first amputee runner to compete at an Olympic Games in London last year and was named by Time Magazine in its list of the world's 100 most-influential people.
Police vehicles enter the private townhouse complex where Oscar Pistorius lives. Photo: Reuters
Pistorius was born without fibulas and had both legs amputated below the knee when he was 11 months old.
The hearing was delayed for two hours as his lawyers objected to the pack of local and international reporters in the courtroom.
Police responded to a report of gunshots in the upscale housing complex where he, said Colonel Katlego Mogale, a police spokeswoman. When they arrived, they found paramedics treating a 30-year-old woman for gunshot wounds. The woman was pronounced dead and a 26-year-old man was taken into custody, Mogale said.
The athlete spent the night in a police cell, where he was visited by his brother and sister. Kenny Oldwage, his lawyer, said he was "emotional" but "keeping up".
Pistorius' father, Henke Pistorius, said in a telephone interview from South Africa: "I wasn't there; I have too much respect for Oscar to speculate. I have no clue what happened. The only person who can make any statement will be Oscar himself."
Asked if his son's relationship had been troubled, Henke Pistorius said, "Not as far as I know. But I don't discuss my son's relationships. I have in fact not met the lady. I don't know."
In a profile last year in The New York Times Sunday Magazine, Michael Sokolove wrote of Pistorius' risk-taking and described him as "a great deal of fun" and "more than a little crazy."
The night before the interview, Pistorius said that his security alarm had sounded and that he grabbed a gun to check on a possible intruder. This time, there was nothing. Pistorius then took Sokolove to a shooting range with a 9mm handgun, saying he went there "just sometimes when I can't sleep."
On November 28, 2011, Pistorius bragged on his Twitter account about his accuracy with a weapon: "Had a 96% headshot over 300m from 50shots! Bam!"
Those who support Pistorius are now left to hope for an awful consolation: that he shot his girlfriend not on purpose but by accident in an apprehensive, armored country, where many fear home invasions and live barricaded in houses surrounded by high fences topped with barbed wire.
Jonathan McEvoy, a reporter for The Daily Mail of London, visited Pistorius in 2011 at his home in Pretoria. On Thursday he wrote, "In Oscar's bedroom lay one cricket bat and one baseball bat behind the door, a revolver by his bed and a machine gun by the window."
But Pistorius has been charged with deliberate murder, not an inadvertent shooting. The South African police said they were surprised to hear news accounts that Pistorius had offered an intruder defense. They also said there had been previous complaints of a "domestic nature" at his home.
Late last year, according to South African news media reports, he reportedly threatened to break a man's legs in an incident involving another woman.
Those who had met Pistorius were left Thursday to deal with the shuddering contradiction between the runner as brave competitor and possible murderer.
AP, NEW YORK TIMES, TELEGRAPH, BLOOMBERG