Oscar Pistorius

Oscar Pistorius trial will take break for 2 weeks


Oscar Pistorius‘ murder trial will go on break following Thursday’s session until May 5 after the judge honored a request from the chief prosecutor Wednesday.

Judge Thokozile Masipa granted an adjournment, allowing a member of the prosecution to attend to another case.

“At the time, it was not envisioned that this trial would run this long,” Masipa said in the Pretoria courtroom. Masipa will spend the break reading through some 2,000 pages of court records with her assessors. The trial will resume two days before South Africa’s national elections.

Pistorius, the first double amputee to run in the Olympics in 2012, faces 25 years to life in prison if convicted of premeditated murder of girlfriend Reeva Steenkamp.

Pistorius said he thought Steenkamp was an intruder when he shot through a locked bathroom door, hitting her four times on the early morning of Valentine’s Day 2013. The prosecution asserts he knowingly shot Steenkamp after an argument.

If not found guilty of premeditated murder, Pistorius could be convicted of culpable homicide, South Africa’s version of manslaughter for negligent killing.

The trial, originally scheduled for a March 3-20 window, concluded its 24th day with forensic analyst Roger Dixon in the witness box all of Wednesday.

Dixon continued testimony as the third of a possible 17 witnesses called by the defense, which expects to finish calling its witnesses by mid-May.

Its second witness, Pistorius, was cross-examined by chief prosecutor Gerrie Nel for five days, finishing Tuesday. Pistorius spent much of Wednesday covering his ears, sometimes retching, during testimony about Steenkamp’s wounds, according to courtroom reports.

Dixon testified that Steenkamp was standing close to the door when first shot, not straight on but at a slight angle, with an arm in front of her. He also talked about where bullets were found in Steenkamp’s body, her wounds and analyzed audio recordings played of a cricket bat striking a door and gunshots from 60m and 180m away.

Pistorius has said he knocked down the bathroom door with a cricket bat to find Steenkamp inside last year. The cricket bat sound has been argued that it’s similar to that of a gunshot.

Dixon was then cross-examined by Nel, who spent about three hours questioning Dixon’s qualifications and credentials as a witness.

The trial is expected to resume at 3:30 a.m. ET on Thursday for the last session before the two-week break.

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

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Ashley Wagner leads U.S. 1-2 at Skate America

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Ashley Wagner bolstered her international reputation again, winning Skate America on Saturday in her first top-level full competition since her world championships silver medal in April.

Wagner totaled 196.44 points over two programs in Hoffman Estates, Ill., holding off countrywoman Mariah Bell by 4.85 points. U.S. champion Gracie Gold was fifth. Full results are here.

“The short program was definitely one of my world-class programs,” Wagner said on NBC. “Long program, I left a little bit out on the table.”

Wagner, who led by 3.75 points after Friday’s short program, was flawed in her free skate, including singling the back end of a jump combination and under-rotating two more jumps.

Still it was enough to overtake Bell, who had the highest free skate score by 3.73 points but was sixth in the short program.

It marked the first U.S. women’s one-two in a Grand Prix event since 2012 Skate America (Wagner and Christina Gao).

“I’m starting to realize my own potential and believe in myself,” Bell, who shares a coach with Wagner, said on NBC. “I’m very excited for the future.”

Gold fell in both of her programs as she tries to bounce back from dropping from first to fourth at last season’s world championships. Gold had her lowest Grand Prix finish (excluding Grand Prix Final) since her debut at 2012 Skate Canada.

Wagner notched her fifth career Grand Prix series win (only Michelle Kwan and Sasha Cohen own more among U.S. women). Wagner joined Kwan as the only women to bag multiple Skate America and U.S. Championships titles.

The women Wagner must be compared with are Russian teens. Wagner ended a 10-year U.S. medal drought at worlds last year, but Russia still rules women’s skating.

None of the top Russians competed at Skate America. Wagner is slated to face 2015 World gold and bronze medalists Elizaveta Tuktamysheva and Yelena Radionova at her next event, Cup of China, in four weeks.

The reigning world champion, Yevgenia Medvedeva, makes her Grand Prix season debut at Skate Canada next week. Medvedeva and Wagner could go head-to-head at the Grand Prix Final in Marseille, France, in December.

Earlier Saturday, Japan’s Shoma Uno topped the men’s short program with 89.15 points, landing one of his two quadruple jump attempts.

Uno, 18, was followed by the last two U.S. champions, Adam Rippon (87.32, no quads) and Jason Brown (85.75, fall on single quad attempt).

The men’s free skate is Sunday at 12:30 p.m. ET (NBC and NBC Sports app).

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Simone Schaller, oldest living Olympian, dies at 104

FILE - In this July 15, 1936, file photo, Simone Schaller, lower right, waves with members of the United States women's Olympic track and field team as they depart for Europe on the SS Manhattan. Schaller, an American hurdler who competed at the 1932 and 1936 Summer Games and was believed to be the oldest living Olympian, died of natural causes Thursday, Oct. 20, 2016,  in the Arcadia, Calif., home she and her husband built when they married in the 1930s, her grandson Jeffrey Hardy said, Saturday, Oct. 22, 2016. She was 104. (AP Photo/File)
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ARCADIA, Calif. (AP) — Simone Schaller, an American hurdler who competed at the 1932 and 1936 Summer Games and was believed to be the oldest living Olympian, has died. She was 104.

Grandson Jeffrey Hardy said Saturday that Schaller died of natural causes Thursday in the home she and her husband built when they married in the 1930s.

Schaller tied Babe Didrikson Zaharias for the world record in the first round of the 80-meter hurdles at the 1932 Los Angeles Games. Schaller finished fourth in the final behind Didrikson, who set another record. According to Olympic historian David Wallechinsky, Schaller had taken up hurdling only three months earlier.

At the 1936 Berlin Olympics, Schaller made it to the semifinals.

She won the hurdles at the 1933 U.S. Championships. She was also an avid tennis player.

Schaller had three children, seven grandchildren, a dozen great-grandchildren and numerous great-great-grandchildren.

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