Oscar Pistorius

Oscar Pistorius’ cross-examination ends at murder trial

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The chief prosecutor in Oscar Pistorius‘ murder trial ended five days of cross-examining the runner Tuesday, saying Pistorius knowingly fatally shot girlfriend Reeva Steenkamp after they had an argument on Valentine’s Day 2013.

Pistorius, who has said he shot through a door thinking an intruder was behind it, called it a “hypothetical” argument.

“Your version is not only untruthful, it’s so improbable that it cannot be reasonably true,” prosecutor Gerrie Nel said, drawing an “I don’t agree” response from Pistorius. “You armed yourself with the sole purpose of shooting and killing her.

“Afterwards, you were overcome by what you’ve done. … Only because it was your intention to kill her.”

Those final comments from Nel with Pistorius in the witness box were subdued compared to his most stinging questions in the Pretoria court room on the 23rd day of the trial.

Pistorius, the first double amputee to run in the Olympics in 2012, faces 25 years to life in prison if convicted of premeditated murder. If not found guilty of premeditated murder, he could be convicted of culpable homicide, South Africa’s version of manslaughter for negligent killing.

“Who should we blame for the Black Talon [bullet] rounds that ripped through her body?” Nel asked, drawing Judge Thokozile Masipa to intervene, saying it was a rephrasing of previous questions.

Pistorius recounted his actions from last year after he shot four times through a locked bathroom door, hitting Steenkamp inside.

He said he bashed open the door with a cricket bat, crouched over Steenkamp seated on the floor and checked to see if she was breathing. Pistorius felt that she wasn’t at first, but then he said he heard her breathing.

“I was talking to her all the time, saying baby please hold on,” Pistorius said. “Jesus, please help me. I was praying for her.”

He tried to but couldn’t pick her up, so he moved her outside of the toilet room and into the outer bathroom. He grabbed her phone from inside the toilet room but didn’t know the passcode to access it. So he ran into his bedroom, took his phone and called for help.

Pistorius said he screamed while trying to break into the bathroom but was questioned by Nel as to why he stopped yelling out when he saw it was Steenkamp behind the door.

“I was broken,” Pistorius said. “I was overcome by sadness. So I wouldn’t have screamed out.”

In brief re-examination, defense attorney Barry Roux had Pistorius read the Valentine’s Day card that Steenkamp made for him that Pistorius did not open until Aug. 19, Steenkamp’s 30th birthday.

“Roses are red, violets are blue,” Pistorius said it read on one side. “I think today is a good day to tell you that I love you.”

Later, forensic expert Roger Dixon testified, with the aid of photos, of how dark Pistorius’ room was, about damage to the toilet door and wounds to Steenkamp’s back and butt. Pistorius covered his eyes and ears while Dixon talked about Steenkamp’s wounds.

Nel asked for a trial break until May 5, still expecting to fit it in the window deadline of May 16. Masipa said she would rule on that Wednesday.

Here’s NBC News’ full coverage of the trial.

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Chinese pair holds on for first world title

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Chinese pair Sui Wenjing and Han Cong needed a personal-best score by nearly five points to avoid a silver medal for a third straight year.

They delivered.

Sui and Han beat Germans Aliona Savchenko and Bruno Massot by 1.76 points at the world championships in Helsinki on Thursday.

They tallied the highest short-program and free-skate scores, including 150.83 in the free Thursday, despite Sui falling on a triple Salchow. Their previous best free skate was 144.28 points.

Russians Yevgenia Tarasova and Vladimir Morozov earned bronze as the top three after the short program stayed that way after the free skate.

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Canadians Meagan Duhamel and Eric Radford, who had been seeking the first pairs three-peat in 39 years, finished seventh.

Americans Alexa Scimeca Knierim and Christopher Knierim finished 10th in their second competition this season after she came back from three abdominal surgeries last summer and fall.

“I am not as confident as I was before I got sick, but I think that’s 100 percent normal when you’re off the ice for so long and you have to re-learn things and start from the bottom,” Scimeca Knierim said. “I’ve only been back at my elite level for a month or two, so I think it’s OK that my confidence is a little shaken. I’m confident that my confidence will grow.”

U.S. champions Haven Denney and Brandon Frazier were 20th in the short program, failing to qualify for the free skate.

Based on those results, the U.S. earned one entry for pairs at the PyeongChang Winter Games, according to NBC Sports research in Helsinki. The only time that fewer than two U.S. pairs competed at the Winter Olympics was at the first Winter Games in Chamonix, France, in 1924.

Just about every star pairs team dealt with serious injury problems this season.

Sui and Han missed the autumn season due to Sui’s right ankle and left foot surgeries last spring, after they squandered the 2016 World Championships short program lead.

They returned at the Four Continents Championships in February and posted then-personal-best free skate and total scores, ranking only behind Tarasova and Morozov for the season.

Savchenko, who earned her 10th career worlds medal, and Massot won both of their fall Grand Prix events but missed the Grand Prix Final after she tore an ankle ligament.

Tarasova needed 10 stitches in her left leg after slicing it on Morozov’s skate in a Wednesday practice accident, hours before the short program. Their bronze medal meant Russia avoided a three-year world pairs medal drought. Soviet and Russian pairs have never missed the worlds podium three straight years since their run of dominance started in the 1960s.

Russians Ksenia Stolbova and Fedor Klimov, the only Sochi medalists competing together at worlds, missed the fall season due to Stolbova’s left leg injury. They finished fifth on Thursday.

Duhamel and Radford suffered more recent injuries. Duhamel said after the free skate she may have a stress fracture in her left foot, according to the Associated Press. Radford suffered a hip injury in the week before worlds that led to thoughts of withdrawing.

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MORE: Playing the Beatles, North Korean skaters aim for Olympics in South Korea

Pairs Results
Gold: Sui Wenjing/Han Cong (CHN) — 232.06
Silver: Aliona Savchenko/Bruno Massot (GER) — 230.30
Bronze: Yevgenia Tarasova/Vladimir Morozov (RUS) — 219.03
10. Alexa Scimeca Knierim/Christopher Knierim (USA) — 202.37
20. Haven Denney/Brandon Frazier (USA) — 56.23

Playing The Beatles, North Korean skaters aim for Olympics in South Korea

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HELSINKI (AP) — North Korea’s figure skaters are aiming for the Olympics — and they’re using The Beatles.

Ryom Tae Ok and her partner Kim Ju Sik impressed observers by finishing 15th of 28 pairs at the world championships on Thursday. That’s the latest step on a road to next year’s Olympics, which would mean a politically tricky journey to South Korea.

Skating to The Beatles’ “A Day in the Life” and music by Russian composer Pyotr Tchaikovsky, Ryom and Kim soared above expectations in only their third major competition outside their homeland.

Star-struck Ryom said the competition was “very difficult” because she wasn’t used to the large crowd, in comments translated by a team official following Wednesday’s short program. Kim said he was “excited because this is a big competition.”

The pair gave away little more than basic personal data. They’ve skated together for two years and train in the capital Pyongyang. Skating isn’t very popular there, but they’d like to change that, they said.

Asked how they’d feel about competing at the Olympics, Kim said he and Ryom are keen to take part in “a big competition,” but didn’t say how he’d feel about visiting South Korea. A North Korean team official led the pair following a question about how they chose The Beatles’ music. Foreign cultural influence is tightly restricted by the North Korean government.

To qualify for the Olympics, Ryom and Kim will need a good performance in September to take one of four places on offer for pairs at a competition in Germany.

North Korea has a patchy record at the Winter Olympics – it won speed skating medals in 1964 and 1992, but didn’t send any athletes to the Sochi Games in 2014.

When they have gone to the Olympics, North Korean figure skaters have failed to impress. The last time the country sent a pair to the Olympics in 2006, they placed 20th and last in the short program, then withdrew.

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VIDEO: Russian pairs skater slices leg on partner’s skate