Oscar Pistorius wails as he describes fatal shooting at murder trial (video)

Oscar Pistorius
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Oscar Pistorius‘ sobs crescendoed to wails as he testified Tuesday about finding girlfriend Reeva Steenkamp after fatally shooting her on Valentine’s Day last year.

“I sat over Reeva, and I cried,” Pistorius said. “I don’t know how long I was there for. She wasn’t breathing.”

Pistorius sobbed over the last sentence, causing judge Thokozile Masipa to call for an adjournment. The trial’s live stream, which did not broadcast Pistorius’ face, continued for several more seconds as he cried louder and louder.

Pistorius re-entered the court room several minutes later, but his lead attorney requested the trial adjourn for the day. It was granted.

“I saw the accused [Pistorius] outside,” lawyer Barry Roux said. “His shirt is soaking wet. His emotional state is so that I can not responsibly ask the court to carry on.”

That concluded an emotional day of testimony from Pistorius, his second straight day on the stand on the 18th day of his trial over shooting Steenkamp on the early morning of Valentine’s Day 2013. He 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.

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

Pistorius’ testimony Tuesday took the Pretoria court room from the day he met Steenkamp — Nov. 4, 2012 — to the day she died a little more than three months later.

His voice quivered throughout. He was never shown on a live stream, but his hands shook, according to court reports. He sniffled, and tears dripped down his cheeks and off his nose.

The judge and his lead attorney repeatedly asked him to speak up and slow down as he spoke.

During an early adjournment, Pistorius changed out of a suit and into a T-shirt and shorts, similar to what he wore the night he shot Steenkamp. Back in court, he took off his prosthetic legs and walked a few yards on his stumps. Pistorius said he was not wearing his prosthetic legs when he shot Steenkamp last year.

He continued to testify about that night while wearing the T-shirt and shorts, describing hearing what he thought was a window opening inside his bathroom.

“That’s the moment that everything changed,” Pistorius said. “I thought that there was a burglar that was gaining entry into my home.”

Pistorius went into more detail than in his affidavit last year.

“Initially, I just froze,” Pistorius said. “I didn’t really know what to do. I heard this noise. I interpreted as somebody was climbing into the bathroom.

“The first thing that ran through my mind was that I needed to arm myself, that I needed to protect Reeva and I, and that I needed to get my gun.”

Pistorius said he grabbed a firearm from underneath his bed and “whispered for Reeva to get down and phone the police.” He was “scared to death” and “overcome with fear.”

“I started screaming and shouting for the burglar or the intruders to get out of my house,” Pistorius said. “I shouted for Reeva to get on the floor. I shouted for her to phone the police.”

Pistorius continued after a lunch break and told of making his way toward the bathroom door on his stumps while photos of the crime scene were shown in court.

“I heard a noise from inside the toilet, what I perceived to be somebody coming out of the toilet,” Pistorius said. “Before I knew it I fired four shots at the door. My ears were ringing. I couldn’t hear anything.

“I kept on shouting for Reeva. I didn’t hear anything. At this point it hadn’t occurred to me yet that it could be Reeva in the bathroom. I still thought that there would be intruders.”

Pistorius said he then said something to Steenkamp but did not hear a response. He lifted himself onto the bed and felt for Steenkamp with his hand but couldn’t find her.

“I think it was at that point that it first dawned upon me that it could be Reeva that was in the bathroom,” Pistorius said. “I was mixed with emotions. I didn’t want to believe that it could be Reeva inside the toilet. I was still scared that maybe somebody was coming in to attack me or us.”

Pistorius said he couldn’t open the locked door. He shouted for help three times from his balcony, then put on his prosthetic legs and attempted to kick the door open.

“I was just panicked at this point,” Pistorius said. “I didn’t really know what to make or what to do.”

Pistorius said he grabbed the cricket bat he would break the door with, screaming, shouting and crying out the whole time.

“I don’t think I’ve ever screamed like that or cried like that,” he said. “I was crying out for the Lord to help me. I was crying out for Reeva.”

He described hitting the door with the bat, three times he believed, and throwing a broken plank into the bathroom to get through.

“All I wanted to do was just look inside to see if it was Reeva,” Pistorius said, breaking down again.

It was.

“I sat over Reeva, and I cried,” Pistorius said. “I don’t know how long I was there for. She wasn’t breathing.”

Steenkamp’s mother, June, appeared unmoved by Pistorius’ final sobbing testimony, according to reporters in court.

The trial is expected to resume, with Pistorius still on the stand, at 3:30 a.m. ET on Wednesday.

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

Swimming legend battles serious infection

World champion skier Kyle Smaine dies in avalanche at age 31

Kyle Smaine
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Kyle Smaine, a retired world champion halfpipe skier, died in an avalanche in Japan on Sunday, according to NBC News, citing Smaine’s father. He was 31.

Smaine, a 2015 World champion in ski halfpipe, had been doing ski filming in Japan, sharing videos on his Instagram account over the past week.

The native of South Lake Tahoe, California, finished ninth in ski halfpipe at the 2016 Winter X Games in Aspen, Colorado.

In 2018, Smaine won the fifth and final U.S. Olympic qualifying series event in ski halfpipe but did not make the four-man team for PyeongChang. His last sanctioned international competition was in February 2018.

Late Sunday, two-time Olympic champion David Wise won the X Games men’s ski halfpipe and dedicated it to Smaine.

“We all did this for Kyle tonight,” Wise said on the broadcast. “It’s a little bit of an emotional day for us. We lost a friend.”

Ilia Malinin wins U.S. Figure Skating Championships despite quadruple Axel miss

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One year ago, Ilia Malinin came to the U.S. Championships as, largely, a 17-year-old unknown. He finished second to Nathan Chen in 2022 and was left off the three-man Olympic team due to his inexperience, a committee decision that lit a fire in him.

After the biggest year of change in U.S. figure skating in three decades, Malinin came to this week’s nationals in San Jose, California, as the headliner across all disciplines.

Though he fell on his quadruple Axel and doubled two other planned quads in Sunday’s free skate (the most ambitious program in history), he succeeded the absent Chen as national champion.

Malinin, the world’s second-ranked male singles skater, still landed two clean quads in Friday’s short program and three more Sunday. He totaled 287.74 points and prevailed by 10.43 over two-time Olympian Jason Brown, a bridge between the Chen and Malinin eras.

“This wasn’t the skate that I wanted,” said Malinin, who was bidding to become the second man to land six quads in one program after Chen. The Virginia chalked up the flaws at least partially to putting more recent practice time into his short program, which he skated clean on Friday after errors in previous competitions.

FIGURE SKATING NATIONALS: Full Results

Brown, a 28-year-old competing for the first time since placing sixth at the Olympics, became the oldest male singles skater to finish in the top three at nationals since Jeremy Abbott won the last of his four titles in 2014. As usual, he didn’t attempt a quad but had the highest artistic score by 9.41 points.

Brown’s seven total top-three finishes at nationals tie him with Chen, Michael WeissBrian Boitano, David Jenkins and Dick Button for the second-most in men’s singles since World War II, trailing only Todd Eldredge‘s and Hayes Jenkins‘ eight.

“I’m not saying it’s super old, but I can’t train the way I used to,” Brown said after Friday’s short program. “What Ilia is doing and the way he is pushing the sport is outstanding and incredible to watch. I cannot keep up.”

Andrew Torgashev took bronze, winning the free skate with one quad and all clean jumps. Torgashev, who competed at nationals for the first time since placing fifth in 2020 at age 18, will likely round out the three-man world team.

Japan’s Shoma Uno will likely be the favorite at worlds. He won last year’s world title, when Malinin admittedly cracked under pressure in the free skate after a fourth-place short program and ended up ninth.

That was before Malinin became the first person to land a quad Axel in competition. That was before Malinin became the story of the figure skating world this fall. That was before Malinin took over the American throne from Chen, who is studying at Yale and not expected to return to competition.

Malinin’s next step is to grab another label that Chen long held: best in the world. To do that, he must be better than he was on Sunday.

“You always learn from your experiences, and there’s always still the rest of the season to come,” he said. “I just have to be prepared and prepare a little bit extra so that doesn’t happen again.”

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