Oscar Pistorius

Oscar Pistorius’ close neighbors testify at murder trial

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Three of Oscar Pistorius‘ closest neighbors said they heard a man crying on the early morning that the runner fatally shot his girlfriend at his murder trial Tuesday.

Next-door neighbor Eontle Nhlengethwa was woken by a loud bang on Valentine’s Day 2013, then heard a male voice saying, “Help! Help! Help!” followed by high-pitched male cries, she said through an interpreter in the Pretoria, South Africa, court room.

She woke her husband, Michael Nhlengethwa, after hearing the bang. He said he heard a man crying very loudly, not weeping but as if he was in danger, saying something like, “No, please, please, no.”

Ria Motshuane, who lived in another house next to Pistorius, said she was woken by a man in a “cry of pain.”

They were the sixth, seventh and eighth witnesses called by the defense on the 27th day of the trial.

Pistorius, the first double amputee to run in the Olympics in 2012, said he thought an intruder was locked inside his bathroom when he shot four times through a locked door, hitting and killing Steenkamp inside.

He 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.

The lead defense lawyer estimated he could wrap the defense’s case by next Tuesday. The trial is then expected to break in preparation for closing arguments, followed by the judge and her assessors taking their time to consider evidence before delivering the verdict, according to The Associated Press.

On Tuesday, the two female witnesses were asked to recreate the male screams they heard. Eontle Nhlengethwa delivered a cat-like, high-pitched wail. Motshuane howled twice, also in a high pitch.

Pistorius has said he screamed for help after he realized it may have been Steenkamp whom he shot, but before he bashed open the door with a cricket bat to find her inside.

Previous witnesses called by prosecutors who lived more than 100 meters farther away from Pistorius testified they heard female screams on the night of the shooting. The prosecution asserts Pistorius and Steenkamp argued before the shooting.

The witnesses Tuesday said that they did not hear female screams nor bangs or gunshots after the male cries.

Michael Nhlengethwa said Pistorius referred to Steenkamp as his fiancée and that he wanted to move from Pretoria to Johannesburg in March 2013 and “be closer to Reeva.”

The trial is scheduled to resume at 3:30 a.m. ET on Thursday, taking a break for Election Day in South Africa on Wednesday.

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

Mexico’s history at the Olympics

Maia, Alex Shibutani break U.S. Championships short dance record

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KANSAS CITY — Maia and Alex Shibutani broke the U.S. Championships short dance record held by Olympic champions Meryl Davis and Charlie White on Friday.

The defending national champion Shibutanis tallied 82.42 points at Sprint Center, easily taking down the Davis-and-White mark of 80.69 set at the 2014 U.S. Championships.

Scores have been higher this season overall, leading to records in international competitions, too.

“Didn’t know it was a record,” Maia Shibutani said. “It was our strongest performance of the short dance so far this season. That’s exactly what we want to be showing right now before we head to the second half of the season.”

The Shibutanis lead by 2.46 points over 2015 U.S. champions Madison Chock and Evan Bates going into Saturday’s free dance (3 p.m. ET, NBC, NBCSports.com/live and the NBC Sports app).

Madison Hubbell and Zachary Donohue, three-time U.S. bronze medalists, are again third. Full results are here.

U.S. Figure Skating will send three dance couples to the world championships in two months. The Shibutanis, Chock and Bates and Hubbell and Donohue were those three couples the past two seasons.

The U.S. is the world power in ice dance, impressively rising during Davis and White’s break since Sochi.

The Shibutanis took silver and Chock and Bates took bronze at the 2016 World Championships. Hubbell and Donohue made it three U.S. couples in the top six at worlds for the first time since 1955.

Chock and Bates had been the top U.S. couple since the Sochi Olympics up until last year’s U.S. Championships. The Shibutanis have topped Chock and Bates in their last three competitions together.

Check out NBCsports.com/USFIGS for all-access coverage all weekend.

MORE: U.S. Championships broadcast schedule

Short Dance
1. Maia Shibutani/Alex Shibutani — 82.42
2. Madison Chock/Evan Bates — 79.96
3. Madison Hubbell/Zachary Donohue — 79.72
4. Kaitlin Hawayek/Jean-Luc Baker — 72.60
5. Elliana Pogrebinsky/Alex Benoit — 67.17

Charlie White: ‘Time is running out’ to decide on comeback

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KANSAS CITY — The Olympics are in a little more than one year. Will Meryl Davis and Charlie White be in PyeongChang to defend their ice dance title?

“We don’t know,” Davis told Andrea Joyce on NBCSN during U.S. Figure Skating Championships coverage Friday. “Since we stepped off the ice in Sochi, for us it’s been all about trying new things and enjoying life in a different capacity that we didn’t get to while we were competing. We’re sort of leaving things on the table, and we’ll have to make a decision coming up here.”

Davis and White have not competed since they became the first U.S. Olympic ice dance champions in Sochi. But they have continued to skate together in shows.

Last April, White said that they would have to decide at some point during the 2016-17 season whether they will come back. The season climaxes at the world championships in two months, though there is the world team trophy event in late April.

“Time is running out,” White said on NBCSN on Friday. “We can’t make the decision right before the free dance at the Olympics. It’s something that deserves the time and thoughtfulness because there’s so much sacrifice that goes into being at the top of your game.”

Davis and White have closely followed the ice dance scene in their break. They have seen the rise of French couple Gabriella Papadakis and Guillaume Cizeron, a comeback by Canadian rivals Tessa Virtue and Scott Moir that White called “inspiring” and U.S. teammates Maia and Alex Shibutani break their U.S. Championships short dance record Friday.

The U.S. currently has three of the top six couples in the world, and with no more than three Olympic spots available, Davis and White would not be assured of a PyeongChang place if they return.

Davis and White have held microphones at the Sprint Center this week, doing arena hosting and Icenetwork commentary.

“It’s fun to have a new challenge,” Davis said. “A little bit scary. Surprisingly scary.”

Check out NBCsports.com/USFIGS for all-access coverage all weekend.

MORE: U.S. Championships broadcast schedule