Oscar Pistorius appeared heartbroken and traumatized one day after he killed girlfriend Reeva Steenkamp, a social worker and probation officer testified at the runner’s murder trial Thursday.
The defense called Yvette van Schalkwyk as one of three witnesses to testify on the 28th day of the trial in Pretoria, South Africa. Van Schalkwyk provided daily emotional support to Pistorius after he fatally shot Steenkamp on Valentine’s Day 2013. She said he cried 80 percent of the time.
“What I saw from the first time that I saw him, from the first second, was a man that was heartbroken about the loss,” van Schalkwyk said. “He was in mourning. He suffered emotionally. He was very sorry about the loss, especially for her parents. … That was the theme throughout the whole period that I saw him.”
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.
Van Schalkwyk sat with Pistorius in his prison cell during his bail application last year. The runner cried and vomitted twice, she said.
“He missed Reeva so much,” van Schalkwyk said. “That was his words, the first words he said to me.”
In court, van Schalkwyk read from weekly progress reports on Pistorius’ mental state from March 2013, from when he was seeing a psychologist for “intense therapy,” she said, adding that Pistorius held a small memorial service for Steenkamp while staying at his uncle’s house, which left him emotionally drained.
“The accused is very heartbroken,” she read from the first of four weekly reports. “He still has a lot of emotion and stress.”
Van Schalkwyk said she contacted Pistorius’ defense team on Tuesday telling them she was willing to testify. She was motivated by reports that Pistorius’ emotional responses in court — including sobbing and vomitting — were an act.
Earlier Thursday, anesthetist Prof. Aina Christina Lundgren testified that Steenkamp’s stomach should have been empty when she died if she had not eaten in at least six hours before the shooting. Pistorius believes Steenkamp had not eaten within eight hours of the shooting. An autopsy report said she still had food in her stomach. However, the anesthetist said it was an inexact science and speculative to judge.
The final witness Thursday was ballistics expert Wollie Wolmarans, who investigated the scene at Pistorius’ house beginning three days after the shooting. Wolmarans testified about Pistorius’ firearm, ammunition, bullet trajectory and Steenkamp’s wounds. He at one point asked the court if anybody had a firearm he could borrow to show how it worked, but nobody offered one.
The trial is scheduled to resume at 3:30 a.m. ET on Friday. The defense is expected to wrap its case by Tuesday.