Oscar Pistorius has denied murdering his girlfriend Reeva Steenkamp, saying he shot her after mistaking her for an intruder. "I am absolutely mortified at the death of my beloved Reeva," he said in a statement.
The Paralympic champion wept audibly as his statement was read to a packed courtroom in Pretoria, South Africa on Tuesday. Oscar said that he loved his girlfriend and never intended to kill her. He is accused of premeditated murder.
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The hearing began with the prosecution giving its account of the killing. Prosecutor Gerrie Nel told the court that in the early hours of the morning of February 14, Oscar had got out of bed, put on his prostheses, and fired his pistol through the locked bathroom door.
The prosecutor said he shot her four times and hit her three times. He added that the defendant later broke down the bathroom door with a cricket bat and carried the body downstairs.
Oscar's statement was read by his lawyer, Barry Roux. "Reeva and I were deeply in love and I could not have been happier," he said. "She felt the same."
The court reportedly turned to Oscar who was weeping uncontrollably. At one point the judge held up his hand for the lawyer to stop speaking.
Barry Roux continued, explaining that Oscar woke up in the middle of the night and went to the balcony because he thought he heard an intruder.
"It was pitch-dark in the bedroom. I did not have my prosthetic legs on and felt extremely vulnerable," the statement explained.
Oscar’s statement said that he thought Reeva was still in bed, and he fired through the bathroom door, believing he was shooting at an intruder.
It said he was “filled with horror and fear” when he realised Reeva was not in the bed. Oscar reportedly then broke the door down to find his girlfriend.
"She died in my arms," the statement said.
Oscar could face life in jail if found guilty. The hearing was adjourned until Wednesday.
Meanwhile Reeva’s family held a private memorial ceremony in her home town of Port Elizabeth. Mourners arrived at the Victoria Park Crematorium to say their last goodbyes to the 29-year-old model as she was laid to rest, five days after she was so tragically killed.
Earlier this week, relatives of Reeva spoke of their grief and determination to find out what happened on that fateful night.
"All we want are answers… answers as to why this had to happen, why our beautiful daughter had to die like this," said her devastated mother June.