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Oscar Pistorius disputes premeditated murder charge in bail hearing

11:39 AM, Feb 19, 2013   |    comments
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Olympic and Paralympic runner Oscar Pistorius shot and killed girlfriend Reeva Steenkamp after attaching his prosthetic legs and walking seven meters (about eight yards) to the bathroom where she was hiding after an argument, prosecutors in South Africa argued Tuesday.

At Tuesday's bail hearing, Pistorius disputed the prosecution's claims, saying he believed Steenkamp was a burglar when he shot and killed her. 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 in what prosecutors argued was premeditated murder. Conviction on that charge carries a mandatory sentence of life in prison.

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, according to CNN: "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," an affidavit for Pistorius said, according to The Telegraph, the British publication that was among several media outlets represented in the courtroom.

Pistorius said he had received death threats, so he kept a 9 mm pistol under his bed, The Telegraph reported. Pistorius said he felt vulnerable because he did not have on his prosthetics when he shot through the bathroom door, the Associated Press reported.

CNN reports that Pistorius awoke to sounds in the bathroom. He said he thought Steenkamp was in bed and was too scared to turn on the lights. He said he shouted to her to call police, according to CNN.

When he realized Steenkamp was not in his bed, "It filled me with horror and fear ..." Pistorius said in the affidavit.

Pistorius then said he put on his prosthetic legs, broke the door with a cricket bat to find Steenkamp inside the bathroom, then ran downstairs with her.

"She died in my arms," Pistorius said in 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 seven 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.

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 seven 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.

Roxanna Scott, USA TODAY Sports

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