Oscar Pistorius

Oscar Pistorius’ neighbors describe ‘frantic’ scene as murder trial resumes

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The first two neighbors to arrive at Oscar Pistorius‘ house after he fatally shot girlfriend Reeva Steenkamp described a “frantic” scene from last year at the runner’s murder trial Monday.

Friend Johan Stander testified he believed Pistorius made a mistake killing Steenkamp on the early morning of Valentine’s Day 2013, after seeing the runner crying and praying shortly after the shooting.

“[Pistorius] was torn apart, broken, desperate, pleading,” Stander said in a Pretoria, South Africa, court room. “It’s difficult, really, to describe, and his commitment to save the young lady’s life, when he put his finger in [her] mouth and tried to keep the airway open to breathe. How he begged her to stay with him, how he begged God to keep her alive. I saw the truth there that morning. I saw it, and I feel it.”

The trial resumed Monday, after a two-week adjournment, for its 26th day. The prosecution already wrapped its case, and the defense said it expected to finish calling up to 17 witnesses by mid-May. Stander and his daughter, Carice Viljoen, were the fourth and fifth witnesses called by the defense.

They both testified Pistorius told them that morning, in separate conversations, that he thought Steenkamp was an intruder when he shot four times through a locked bathroom door, killing her inside.

The prosecution asserts he knowingly shot Steenkamp after an argument. 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, Pistorius could be convicted of culpable homicide, South Africa’s version of manslaughter for negligent killing.

Pistorius has said Stander was the first person he called after shooting Steenkamp, waking Stander around 3:20 a.m.

“Please, please, please come to my house, please,” Stander, who has known the runner since 2009, said Pistorius told him. “I shot Reeva. I thought she was a intruder. Please, please come quick.”

Viljoen said she drove Stander in a silver Mini to Pistorius’ house, about a minute away in the same gated community. They arrived a few minutes after the phone call. Viljoen turned the car’s hazards on. Then she, followed by Stander, rushed past a security guard and a worker from Pistorius’ house and through an ajar front door with a light on inside.

“From the second that we walked into that house, he was frantic,” Viljoen said.

They first saw Pistorius carrying Steenkamp down stairs.

“When Mr. Pistorius saw us, there was relief on his face,” Stander said. “He was crying. He was really crying. He was in pain, and he asked us to please assist him.”

Viljoen stayed in and knelt next to Steenkamp, with Pistorius on the other side.

“I just saw blood everywhere,” Viljoen said in hectic testimony given “at the speed of light,” the lead prosecutor later said.

Viljoen went upstairs to grab a few towels to control the bleeding. Pistorius stayed behind, begging and pleading with Steenkamp not to leave him, Viljoen said.

“Stay with me, my love,” Pistorius said, according to Viljoen.

Viljoen asked Pistorius what happened.

“He just looked at me and said, ‘I thought she was an intruder,'” Viljoen said, not asking a follow-up because, “We just continued trying to save her life at that stage.”

Viljoen said she saw Pistorius vomit a few times. Pistorius later went upstairs, and she feared he might have gone to find a gun to shoot himself.

Stander went outside to call an ambulance, and Steenkamp was declared dead shortly after it arrived, he said.

“It was a hectic day,” Viljoen said.

In the court room, Pistorius leaned over and covered his face with his hands during the most emotional testimony Monday.

The trial is scheduled to resume at 9:30 a.m. Tuesday, one day before South Africa’s election day Wednesday.

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

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Nick Goepper opens Olympic qualifying on podium; contenders crash out

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BRECKENRIDGE, Colo. — U.S. Olympic men’s ski slopestyle qualifying is underway with Sochi bronze medalist Nick Goepper delivering the first blow.

Goepper finished second at Dew Tour Breckenridge, taking the early edge in Olympic qualifying.

With a victory at any of the remaining selection events, Goepper would be looking good for one of up to four spots on the team for PyeongChang.

“I was really hoping to ski my best today, and I think I skied 98 percent,” Goepper said. “The Olympic selection podium is a bonus and eases the pressure a little bit for the next couple, but the pressure wasn’t really there. I’m just thinking of these as individual events [instead of Olympic qualifiers].”

Alex Hall (fifth place) and Sochi silver medalist Gus Kenworthy (sixth place) also got their Olympic qualifying attempts off to a decent start, but in order to be automatically nominated to the Olympic team, skiers need a minimum of two top-three finishes among five selection events.

Goepper was the only U.S. skier able to crack the podium in Breckenridge.

Sweden’s Henrik Harlaut (first place) and Norway’s Oystein Braaten (third place) played the role of spoiler for the rest of the U.S. team. Harlaut and Braaten are both considered medal contenders for PyeongChang.

Crashes took their toll on several U.S. Olympic hopefuls.

McRae Williams, the reigning world champion, was forced to drop out after crashing on his first run. Colby Stevenson and 2014 Olympian Bobby Brown also did not finish the contest after taking spills of their own.

The contest also missed the reigning Olympic gold medalist. Joss Christensen sat out the event as he rehabs from a torn ACL but plans to return in January for the final four selection events.

On the women’s side, Maggie Voisin remains on track for a nomination to the U.S. Olympic team.

She finished fourth, best among Americans, in the Olympic qualifier at Breckenridge on the strength of a run that featured three 900s.

Voisin won the first qualifier for women’s slopestyle, which was held last season.

She still needs one more top-three finish at any of the three remaining selection events to be eligible for an automatic nomination, but she has consistently been the top performer among the U.S. women.

With two-time X Games gold medalist Kelly Sildaru sidelined with a knee injury this season, the field looks wide open for PyeongChang.

Voisin, then 15, was slated to make her Olympic debut in Sochi as the youngest American in any sport but was injured just days before the competition.

As long as she stays healthy, she will be a medal contender in PyeongChang, as will Norway’s Johanne Killi and France’s Tess Ledeux.

Killi narrowly edged out Ledeux, who recently turned 16, for the victory in Breckenridge. Sarah Hoefflin of Switzerland rounded out the podium.

Four U.S. selection events remain for the men, and three events remain for the women. Olympic qualifying resumes in January with a series of contests in Aspen, Colo., and Mammoth Mountain, Calif.

U.S. Olympic Qualifying Standings
Ski Slopestyle 
(women through two of five events; men through one of five)
1. Maggie Voisin — 150*
2. Devin Logan — 82
3. Darian Stevens — 81
4. Taylor Lundquist — 52
5. Nadia Gonzales — 28

1. Nick Goepper — 80*
2. Alex Hall — 45
3. Gus Kenworthy — 40
4. Bobby Brown — 32
5. Cody LaPlante — 29

**Has automatic qualifying minimum of two top-three results.
*Has one top-three result.

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MORE: List of athletes qualified for U.S. Olympic team

Maame Biney, J.R. Celski join U.S. Olympic short track team

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Maame Biney will become the second African-born athlete to compete for the U.S. at the Winter Olympics and the first black woman on a speed skating team.

J.R. Celski, a three-time medalist, is going to a third Winter Games.

Biney, Celski and Aaron Tran qualified in short track at the Olympic Trials in Kearns, Utah, after the 500m on Saturday.

The team is now at five skaters — John-Henry Krueger and Lana Gehring qualified on the first night Friday.

Three more skaters will qualify Sunday after 1000m races — two men and one woman.

One of Katherine Reutter-Adamek and Jessica Kooreman, the top U.S. women at the last two Olympics, is guaranteed to miss the PyeongChang team.

Neither could keep up with the 17-year-old Biney, who moved to the D.C. area from Ghana with her father at age 5, on Saturday.

Biney swept the 500m finals, taking leads from the start and holding off more experienced women. She actually fell — while celebrating after crossing the finish line in the last race.

Afterward, NBC Sports’ Andrea Joyce told Biney that eight-time Olympic medalist Apolo Ohno believes Biney doesn’t know how good she is.

“People have been telling me that forever, and I think right now I’m kind of seeing it, but I feel like I have a long ways to go, but thanks Apolo,” said Biney, who won a junior world championships bronze medal last season.

Celski did not win the men’s 500m, where he is the world-record holder. Krueger did, with Tran in second.

But the fact that Krueger finished in the top two in Friday’s 1500m and the 500m means that Celski gets on the team via his second-place finish in the 1500m.

Celski won two bronze medals at the 2010 Olympics and another relay silver in Sochi.

He took a full season off after Sochi — undergoing hip surgery — and overcame further knee and back injuries the last two years to return to the World Cup podium this season.

Celski is the only American to earn an individual World Cup medal this season (a bronze) in 24 total races.

Celski won’t be able to race the 500m in PyeongChang if Thomas Hong makes the Olympic team on Sunday.

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U.S. Olympic Short Track Trials

Day Time (ET) Events Network
Friday 6:45-8 p.m. 1500m rounds STREAM LINK
8:30-10 p.m. 1500m finals NBCSN | STREAM LINK
Saturday 12-1:45 p.m. 500m rounds STREAM LINK
2:30-4 p.m. 500m finals NBC | STREAM LINK
Sunday 10:15 a.m.-12:15 p.m. 1000m rounds STREAM LINK
1-3 p.m. 1000m finals NBC | STREAM LINK