Story Summary

Olympic hero Oscar Pistorius charged in girlfriend’s murder

pistorius olympicsOlympic runner Oscar Pistorius has been charged with murder in the death of his girlfriend at his South Africa home on Valentine’s Day.

Reeva Steenkamp, 29, and Pistorius, 26, were the only two people in the upscale Pretoria home at the time of the shooting, police spokeswoman Denise Beukes said.

Steenkamp, a South African model, was shot four times through the bathroom door, said a South African official familiar with the case to CNN.
Pistorius has rejected the murder allegation “in the strongest terms,” his agent said in a statement.
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PRETORIA, South Africa (CNN) — After months of hiding from the public eye, track star Oscar Pistorius re-emerged into the spotlight Tuesday for a pre-trial hearing in his murder case.

The hearing lasted only about 10 minutes. The magistrate granted the prosecution’s request to postpone the case until August 19 to allow for more time for the investigation.

The judge also announced Pistorius can be re-released on the same bail conditions he had before.

The date for the murder trial could be announced on August 19 — which, incidentally, would have been the 30th birthday of Reeva Steenkamp.

The double-amputee sprinter is charged with premeditated murder for killing Steenkamp, a model and law school graduate, on Valentine’s Day.

No one disputes that Pistorius killed his girlfriend; the point of contention is whether he intended to kill her.

Pistorius has said he thought an intruder was inside his house. He said he ran on his stumps to the bathroom, where he shot through a door four times. It was only upon returning to his bedroom, Pistorius said, that he realized Steenkamp was not in bed and that she was actually the one in the bathroom.

But prosecutors said the act was a premeditated murder — that Pistorius had an argument with Steenkamp, put on his prosthetic legs, walked to the bathroom, and shot through the door, intentionally killing his girlfriend.

The high-profile case against the Olympic athlete has strained the nerves and patience of some South Africans.

“They’ve had so much time to prepare the case against Oscar, and now we are expecting nothing more than a postponement,” Gabi Zaharieva said shortly before the hearing. “They really have to get going on this.”

But the case could take even longer. The judge addressed concerns Tuesday about about the “sanctity of judicial processes.”

He said there appears to be a trial by media, which could result in contempt of court.

The judge’s comments come days after photos of the bloody scene from Pistorius’ home were leaked to the media.

Taking refuge in uncle’s house

Pistorius, who was released on bail, has been living at his uncle’s house in Pretoria for the past three months. He has grown a beard because he doesn’t want to be recognized and has surrounded himself with photos of Reeva Steenkamp, his uncle said.

“He’s got photos in his room, photos all over the place,” Arnold Pistorius told CNN’s Robyn Curnow. “He’s housebound, you know. He doesn’t go out in public places.”

Arnold Pistorius described the his nephew’s grief as unimaginable.

“What can you say if the person you love the most dies, and you were the instrument? How would you feel? It’s unthinkable.”

Trouble with the investigation

The police investigation into the killing has been beset by problems and scandals since the start.

Hilton Botha, the original lead investigator, admitted during Pistorius’ bail hearing that police had failed to wear protective shoe covers at the crime scene because they had run out of them, and that it was possible evidence had been damaged as a result.

Botha also drew audible gasps from the packed courtroom when he testified that testosterone had been found at Pistorius’ house, before being forced to admit that he hadn’t actually read the full name of the substance. The sprinter’s lawyers testified that the substance was an herbal remedy.

The Paralympian’s lawyers also got Botha to acknowledge that investigators had failed to collect any evidence that counters Pistorius’ argument that he mistakenly shot Steenkamp.

But police spokesman Phuti Setati said authorities are confident Pistorius will be convicted.

“Nothing will distract the detectives from the case. They will remain on course to make sure that they secure a murder conviction.”

If convicted of premeditated murder, Pistorius could face life in prison — which in practice typically amounts to 25 years, unless someone can prove extraordinary circumstances.

But even if a judge finds him not guilty of premeditated murder, he could still face a charge of culpable homicide, which is based on negligence. The punishment for culpable homicide is at the court’s discretion.

CNN’s Nkepile Mabuse, Nick Thompson, Hamilton Wende, Susannah Cullinane and Kim Norgaard contributed to this report.

™ & © 2013 Cable News Network, Inc., a Time Warner Company. All rights reserved.

By Robyn Curnow, Chelsea J. Carter

PRETORIA, South Africa (CNN) — A magistrate granted bail Friday to Oscar Pistorius, citing a number of problems with the police investigation into the death of the Olympic sprinter’s girlfriend.

“I come to the conclusion that the accused has made a case to be released on bail,” said Chief Magistrate Desmond Nair, eliciting a celebratory cry of “Yes!” from the courtroom.

Nair said the former chief investigator in the case, Hilton Botha, had made “several errors and concessions” during his testimony.

Specifics of Pistorius’ release have not yet been announced.

The decision comes at the end of a four-day bail hearing that has been remarkable for not only its length but its allegations of miscues by a lead police investigator who himself faces attempted murder charges.

Pistorius is accused of premeditated murder in the February 14 shooting death of Reeva Steenkamp, 29. Authorities and Pistorius’ team agree that he killed Steenkamp, but Pistorius says he mistook her for an intruder.

Prosecutor Gerrie Nel told the judge in final arguments before a packed Pretoria courtroom that Pistorius doesn’t deserve bail.

“He must realize that long-term imprisonment is almost guaranteed. He might think he’ll be acquitted.”

The prosecution had several notable missteps during the bail hearing, including the removal of the lead investigator, who had earlier acknowledged under questioning from defense attorney Barry Roux that police could have contaminated the crime scene and had failed to properly catalog evidence.

The South African Police Service pulled Botha, from the case Thursday after prosecutors reinstated seven counts of attempted murder charges against him. Botha is accused of opening fire on a minibus full of people while allegedly drunk in 2011.

Prosecutors allege that Pistorius, 26, killed his girlfriend after a heated argument in the early morning hours of Valentine’s Day.

The sprinter, however, says he thought an intruder was hiding in a toilet room inside the bathroom of his Pretoria home. He says he fired into the room in a fit of terror before realizing Steenkamp was inside.

Prosecution plea

Nair questioned Nel over the prosecution’s assertion that Pistorius was a flight risk.

What kind of life would he lead if he were to flee? the judge asked.

A life of freedom, the prosecutor said.

Ducking and diving every day with those prosthesis? Nair asked.

A life not in prison, Nel said.

The prosecutor implored the judge to deny Pistorius’ bail request, saying courts cannot favor the famous or the disabled.

“We all know that a lot of important people were granted bail and they stayed in the country,” Nel told the magistrate. “But lots of very important people have escaped.”

Nel pointed to the case of WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange, who fled to the Ecuadorian Embassy in London to avoid extradition to Sweden, where he is wanted for questioning over sex assault allegations.

Assange’s face was well-known, the prosecutor said, but “it didn’t stop him fleeing arrest.”

Roux said the track star needs regular medical treatment for his stumps and his prostheses require routine maintenance.

“Mr. Pistorius cannot go unnoticed through an airport due to his legs,” he told the judge.

Pistorius, eyes red, appeared emotional and drained.

At one point, he sat with his eyes closed and shoulders shaking as tears rolled down his face. At other times, he stared straight ahead.

In arguments wrapping up during Thursday’s session, the prosecutor said Pistorius’ defense team has failed to explain why investigators found two cell phones and the gun believed to have been used in the shooting in front of the shower.

That goes to the prosecution claim that Steenkamp didn’t merely get up to relieve herself in the middle of the night, but in fact had locked herself in the bathroom with her cell phone to protect herself from Pistorius.

Earlier in the hearing, Nel argued that evidence showed Pistorius intentionally targeted Steenkamp. Ballistic evidence showed he had to aim at the toilet to hit her, Nel said, and how the bullets traveled through the door suggested he was standing on his prosthetic legs, not his stumps as he claimed.

Pistorius said in his statement that when he shot through the door, he was feeling vulnerable to an intruder because he was not wearing his legs and had limited mobility.

Defense argument

During the bail hearing, being held in a dark, stuffy Pretoria courtroom, Roux hammered away at the credibility of Botha and the entire police investigation. He argued Thursday that the state’s case had suffered a “monumental collapse.”

He said police had missed a bullet where Steenkamp was shot and may have contaminated the crime scene by failing to wear protective foot covers.

Botha said investigators didn’t wear the booties because they’d run out.

Under questioning from Roux, Botha said police didn’t have evidence to specifically contradict Pistorius’ story.

Then, Botha was gone.

Officials in the case learned Thursday of the charges against Botha, and the South African Police Service moved quickly to take him off the investigation.

While police Commissioner Riah Phiyega praised Botha’s work on the case, she removed him in favor of the department’s most senior detective.

Accusations against the investigator would be little more than a “speed bump” in the Pistorius case, Bulelwa Makeke, the spokeswoman for South Africa’s National Prosecuting Authority, said before Botha was removed.

“Blade Runner”

Pistorius made history last year as the first disabled athlete to compete in the able-bodied London Games. A few weeks after the Olympics, he smashed a record to win the men’s 400-meter in the 2012 Paralympic Games.

When Pistorius was 11 months old, his legs were amputated below the knees because he was missing the fibulae.

He runs on special carbon fiber blades, earning the nickname “Blade Runner.”

The case has roiled South Africa, where Pistorius is considered a national hero.

Following his arrest on Valentine’s Day, Pistorius put his career on hold and pulled out of future races. Sponsors Nike and Oakley suspended their contracts with the runner.

Robyn Curnow reported from Pretoria. Chelsea J. Carter and Michael Pearson reported and wrote from Atlanta. CNN’s Nic Robertson, Ben Brumfield, Kim Norgaard and Diane McCarthy also contributed to this report.

™ & © 2013 Cable News Network, Inc., a Time Warner Company. All rights reserved

(CNN) — The sensational case of Oscar Pistorius took a new turn Thursday when police said the lead investigator is facing seven counts of attempted murder stemming from an incident four years ago.

That investigator, Hilton Botha, and several other police officers apparently fired at a minibus they were chasing in late 2009, spokesman Neville Malila told CNN affiliate eNCA.

The officers were allegedly drunk at the time, the spokesman said.

They were arrested on seven counts of attempted murder — one for each occupant in the minibus, the spokesman said.

They were also charged with using firearms under the influence of alcohol, and all of them appeared in court.

The charges were provisionally withdrawn, but the Director of Public Prosecution reinstated them Wednesday and plans to move ahead on the charges later this year, the spokesman said.

The revelation comes as final arguments are set to begin in the bail hearing of the Olympian charged with premeditated murder in the killing of his girlfriend, model Reeva Steenkamp, in the early hours of Valentine’s Day. A ruling in the hearing could come as soon as Thursday.

Pistorius has said he thought he was shooting at an intruder.

But Botha told the court Wednesday that Pistorius, 26, wasn’t acting in self-defense when he shot through the door of a toilet room in the bathroom of his home and killed Steenkamp.

Botha said he believes Pistorius knew Steenkamp was on the other side of the door. He didn’t explain why investigators think that but suggested Pistorius was specifically aiming to hit the toilet where Steenkamp had gone.

But he also said investigators have found no evidence that is inconsistent with Pistorius’ story.

Would he run?

In a statement Thursday, Pistorius’ family said he is an international icon, which makes it highly unlikely that he’d be a flight risk if granted bail.

The family posted the statement on OscarPistorius.com and said it would use the site to disseminate information about the case.

Botha told Magistrate Desmond Nair that investigators believe Pistorius is violent and might flee if released from jail.

He described two police encounters with Pistorius, one in which Botha said the track star asked someone else to take the blame when a gun went off at a Johannesburg restaurant.

Police said the second incident took place at a racetrack, where Pistorius allegedly threatened to assault someone.

Authorities said they also have responded to previous domestic incidents at Pistorius’ home but have not elaborated.

In a statement read by his attorney Tuesday, Pistorius said he and Steenkamp were deeply in love and that he was “mortified” over her death.

Special treatment?

The women’s branch of South Africa’s ruling party issued a statement asking why Pistorius was being detained in a holding cell at the Brooklyn Police Station — and not at Central Prison or Newlock, where other defendants awaiting trial are kept.

“If there is some special circumstance that permits this, authorities must share this with the public as they are setting a bad precedent,” the statement from the African National Congress Women’s League said. “All should be treated equally before the law no matter your standing in society.”

The group said Pistorius is getting special treatment, adding that his family can visit him even outside visiting hours — unlike families of other inmates.

Pistorius’ lawyers requested Brooklyn last week so they could have access to their client over the weekend. The state did not object.

Bail hearing

Prosecutors spent much of the hearing Wednesday focused on the bathroom of Pistorius’ Pretoria home, where authorities say the track star shot Steenkamp three times, in the hip, elbow and ear.

Bullet trajectories show that Pistorius had to turn left and fire at an angle to aim at the toilet, Botha testified. Had he fired head-on into the door, he would have missed her, Botha said.

Defense attorney Barry Roux disputed that, saying the evidence does not show there was an effort to aim at the toilet.

Prosecutors are trying to prove Pistorius intentionally fired on Steenkamp, 29, in a premeditated attempt to kill her. Pistorius and his lawyers argue he mistook her for an intruder and killed her accidentally.

Pistorius said in his statement Tuesday that he believes Steenkamp went into the bathroom when he got up to close the balcony door in his bedroom in the early hours of February 14.

Hearing noises and gripped with fear that someone had broken into his home, Pistorius said he grabbed his gun, yelled for the intruder to leave and shot through the toilet-room door before realizing the person inside might have been Steenkamp.

Roux said Wednesday that the defense team believes Steenkamp locked the door when she heard Pistorius yelling for the intruder to leave. He also said Steenkamp’s bladder was empty, suggesting she had gone to the bathroom as Pistorius claimed.

Botha agreed with the defense contention that, other than the bullet wounds, her body showed no sign of an assault or efforts to defend herself.

But prosecutors and Pistorius’ defense battled over allegations that testosterone and needles were found at the home, as well as the quality of the police investigation.

Did investigators make errors?

Amid speculation by outsiders to the case that steroids or other drugs could have somehow played a role in the shooting, Botha testified that investigators found two boxes of testosterone and needles at Pistorius’ home.

Under questioning by Roux, however, Botha said he hadn’t read the full name of the substance — which Roux said was an herbal remedy called testoconpasupium coenzyme — when investigators took the materials into evidence.

The Mayo Clinic website says coenzyme is produced by the human body and is necessary for the basic functioning of cells. Coenzyme can be taken in supplement form to boost levels of it in the body.

A quick Internet search on the full name of the substance yielded no results.

Roux said the defense forensics team found a bullet in the toilet that police had missed and noted police had failed to find out who owned ammunition found at the home or photograph it.

Roux questioned police arguments that a witness heard sounds of an argument before the shooting. The witness, Roux said, lives 600 meters (more than a third of a mile) from Pistorius’ home. Prosecutor Gerrie Nel countered that the witness lives 300 meters away.

Defense tactics

The tactics used by Pistorius’ defense team caught the attention of U.S. defense attorney Alan Dershowitz.

“The thing that gives me some level of confidence that he may well be innocent is … his lawyer did something that no reasonable lawyer would ever do unless he was absolutely certain of his client’s innocence — put his story in an affidavit,” Dershowitz said.

“Because if there’s anything in that affidavit that is contradicted by one single bit of forensic evidence, the case is over.”

Defense attorneys are trying to overcome South African law, which makes it difficult for defendants accused of premeditated murder to get out on bail. The law requires evidence of “exceptional circumstances” to justify release.

The judge upgraded the charge against Pistorius to premeditated murder Tuesday, saying he could not rule out the possibility that the track star planned Steenkamp’s death. But Nair said he would consider downgrading the charge later.

In his statement Tuesday, Pistorius said he would not try to flee or influence any witnesses if he is allowed out on bail, and he said his release wouldn’t be a danger to public order.

Still, Steenkamp’s half-brother Adam doesn’t see Pistorius getting out.

“Under the circumstances, I think it would be rather strange if someone who quite clearly did something like this were to get bail,” he said. “It wouldn’t make sense to me, but I don’t know whether that would be right or wrong.”

Steenkamp’s family mourns

In the midst of the drama in the courtroom, Steenkamp’s family is still coming to terms with her tragic death.

Her cousin Kim Martin called her exceptional.

“From a young age there was something magical about her. She had this kind, nurturing soul. … She continuously gave me advice for life. … There was something really, really special about Reeva.”

Adam Steenkamp said it’s going to take some time for things to sink in, just a week after her death.

“We are all holding up very well considering the circumstances,” he said. “We’re doing OK.”

PRETORIA, South Africa (CNN) — Sounds of arguing for an hour before the shooting. Blood stains on a cell phone and cricket bat. Boxes of testosterone and needles. Angles of gunfire.

The shape of prosecutors’ case against Oscar Pistorius began to come into focus Wednesday as they argued the Olympian charged with killing his girlfriend is a flight risk who should be denied bail.

Police investigator Hilton Botha told the court there’s no way Pistorius was acting in self-defense when he shot through the door of a toilet room in the bathroom of his home and killed Reeva Steenkamp.

Pistorius has said he thought he was shooting at an intruder in the early hours of Valentine’s Day, but Botha said he believes Pistorius knew Steenkamp was on the other side of the door.

Prosecutors tried to poke holes in Pistorius’ story, and defense lawyers fired back:

The witness who heard sounds of arguing lives 600 meters (more than 650 yards) away, Botha testified under cross-examination. Pistorius had a legal herbal medicine, not testosterone, defense attorney Barry Roux said. Steenkamp locked the toilet room door when she heard Pistorius screaming for help, Roux said.

Bail hearing

Pistorius is charged with premeditated murder in the killing of his girlfriend. The hearing will determine if he can be released on bail.

Prosecutors set the scene in the bathroom as Botha said investigators found a firearm on the bathroom mat and two cell phones in the bathroom; neither phone had been used to make a call. There was blood on one of the phones.

Botha said police believe a blood-splattered cricket bat found in the bathroom was used to break down the locked door to the toilet; part of the door was lying in the bathroom.

The defense argued that Steenkamp locked the toilet room door when she heard Pistorius screaming for help, something he said in his affidavit a day earlier. Roux also said her bladder was empty, which was consistent with going to the bathroom.

Botha agreed with the defense contention that her body showed signs of an assault or of trying to defend herself. He also said nothing in the evidence contradicts Pistorius’ version of events.

When police entered the house, Steenkamp was dressed, wearing white shorts and a black vest.

Botha described two past police encounters involving Pistorius, suggesting he is prone to violence.

The first involved an incident at a Johannesburg restaurant in which a gun was discharged. Botha said Pistorius asked someone else to take the blame for it.

Police said the second incident took place at a racetrack where Pistorius threatened to assault someone.

The charge of premeditation makes it more difficult for Pistorius’ attorneys to argue he should be released pending trial. To win bail, the defense must argue that “exceptional circumstances” exist that would justify Pistorius’ release.

In a statement read by his lawyer Tuesday, Pistorius said he would not try to flee or influence any witnesses if he is allowed out on bail, and he said his release wouldn’t be a danger to public order.

Magistrate Desmond Nair upgraded the charge against Pistorius to premeditated murder Tuesday, saying he could not rule out the possibility that the track star planned Steenkamp’s death. But Nair said he would consider downgrading the charge later.

A tragic mistake?

While prosecutors and defense lawyers agree Pistorius shot Steenkamp, the track star denied intentionally killing her.

“I fail to understand how I could be charged with murder, let alone premeditated murder because I had no intention to kill my girlfriend,” Pistorius said in his statement.

“We were deeply in love and couldn’t be happier,” he said. “I loved her and I know she felt the same way.”

In his statement, Pistorius said Steenkamp came to his home on February 13 for a quiet dinner. They wrapped up the night with a bit of television in bed for him, some yoga for her. She had brought him a Valentine’s Day present to open the next day.

After the couple had gone to bed, he said, he got up in the early hours of February 14 to close the balcony door in his bedroom when he heard a sound in the bathroom.

Pistorius said he’d been a victim of violence and burglary in the past, and realized with terror that contractors who worked at the house had left ladders outside.

Fearing someone had entered the home through an open bathroom window, Pistorius grabbed his 9 mm pistol from under the bed, moved in the dark on the stumps of his amputated legs and yelled at what he thought was the intruder to get out.

“I fired shots at the toilet door and shouted to Reeva to phone the police. She did not respond and I moved backwards out of the bathroom, keeping my eye on the bathroom entrance,” he said in his statement.

“Everything was pitch-dark in the bedroom and I was still too scared to switch on a light.”

“When I reached the bed, I realized that Reeva was not in bed. That is when it dawned on me that it could have been Reeva who was in the toilet. I returned to the bathroom calling her name,” he said.

He said he threw open the balcony door and screamed for help, put on his prosthetic legs and tried to kick in the door to the separate room inside the bathroom containing the toilet. Then, he said, he picked up a cricket bat, smashing panels out of the door before finding a key and unlocking it.

“Reeva was slumped over but alive,” he said.

Pistorius said he called for help and was told to take her to the hospital himself.

He carried her downstairs and tried to help her, but she died.

A premeditated murder?

Prosecutors, however, painted a different picture.

They rejected Pistorius’ claim that he mistook Steenkamp for a burglar, saying it would make no sense for an intruder to hide behind a locked bathroom door.

Instead, they say, Pistorius armed himself, attached his prosthetic legs and walked 7 meters (23 feet) to shoot her through a bathroom door after a heated argument.

Roux, the defense attorney, questioned the state’s argument, asking how prosecutors would know Pistorius had put on his prosthetic legs and walked to the bathroom before shooting his girlfriend.

Police were alerted to the shooting by neighbors, and residents had “heard things earlier,” police spokeswoman Denise Beukes said.

Authorities said there had been “previous incidents” at the home, including “allegations of a domestic nature,” but did not provide details.

Case rivets fans and friends alike

The case of the global sports hero known as the Blade Runner has riveted stunned fans around the world.

Social media reaction to the case appeared to come down against the sports star, but was still noticeably mixed on CNN’s Facebook page.

“There’s no amount of tears that will save you,” said Anthonia Nneka Nwabueze. “Pistorius must face the law for brutally killing an innocent girl — Reeva.”

“My favorite athlete but what he did is grave and must be punished,” Carlos Alvarez Ochoa said.

But another person who posted called for patience.

“(N)one of us were in the house when his girlfriend was murdered, let’s hold off on casting stones at Oscar Pistorius,” said Adrian van Liere Since. “Just like anyone else, he deserves a just trial, and in my eyes remains innocent until proven guilty.”

Coming to his defense were two acquaintances.

“I’ve never seen him show an angry side. I’ve never seen him lose his temper,” Vanessa Haywood, a model and longtime friend, told CNN. “He’s an incredibly kind and gentle human being.”

Another endorsement came from a former girlfriend.

“I would just like to say, I have dated Oscar on off for 5 YEARS,” Jenna Edkins said on Twitter. “NOT ONCE has he EVER lifted a finger to me, made me fear for my life.”

Robyn Curnow and Kim Norgaard reported from South Africa, and Ed Payne reported and wrote from Atlanta. CNN’s Nkepile Mabuse also contributed to this report.

PRETORIA, South Africa (CNN) — Oscar Pistorius sobbed uncontrollably in a Pretoria courtroom Tuesday as prosecutors described how they say he murdered his girlfriend.

The state said the killing was premeditated: Pistorius armed himself, attached his prosthetic legs and walked 7 meters before shooting Reeva Steenkamp, who had come to spend the night, through the bathroom door, prosecutors said.

Pistorius fired four times, prosecutors said; Steenkamp was struck thrice inside a locked bathroom.

He “shot and killed an innocent woman,” senior state prosecutor Gerrie Nel said.

As Nel spoke, Pistorius buried his face in his hands.

But defense attorney Barry Roux said the shooting was not premeditated; Pistorius shot his girlfriend thinking she was a burglar, he said.

The prosecution doubted that assertion, asking why a burglar would lock up in a bathroom.

But Roux questioned how the prosecution would know Pistorius attached his prosthetic legs and walked to the bathroom. Police have said Pistorius and Steenkamp, now deceased, were the only ones in the home.

The global sports hero, known as the “Blade Runner,” was in court for a bail hearing Tuesday. The last time the world saw images of Pistorius was when he was initially charged Friday, when the track star crumbled upon hearing the word “murder.”

The courtroom scenes are a far cry from the packed stadiums that erupted in applause for the double-amputee who dared to compete against men with legs.

Police have released little about a possible motive in the Valentine’s Day shooting of his girlfriend.

Items found in Pistorius’ home suggest Steenkamp intended to stay the night. She had an overnight bag and her iPad, a South African official familiar with a case said Monday.

The 29-year-old model was alive after she was shot, and Pistorius carried her wounded body downstairs, said the official, who was not authorized to release details to the media.

Police were alerted to the shooting by neighbors, and residents had “heard things earlier,” spokeswoman Denise Beukes said.

A police spokeswoman said there had been “previous incidents” at the home, including “allegations of a domestic nature.” They did not detail what those may been.

Detectives are investigating a blood-stained cricket bat in the home, Johannesburg’s City Press newspaper reported, and are trying to determine whether it was used to attack Steenkamp, if she used the bat in self-defense, or if Pistorius used it to try to break down the bathroom door.

Pistorius, 26, has rejected the murder allegation “in the strongest terms,” his agent said in a statement.

As the drama in court unfolds, friends and family will mourn Steenkamp at a private funeral service in her hometown of Port Elizabeth.

On Sunday, South Africans heard Steenkamp’s voice one last time after her death, when the national broadcaster aired a pre-recorded reality TV show featuring the model discussing her exit from “Tropika Island of Treasure,” on which local celebrities compete for prize money.

“I’m going to miss you all so much and I love you very, very much,” she said, blowing a kiss to the camera.

Robyn Curnow reported from South Africa; Holly Yan reported and wrote from Atlanta. CNN’s Nkepile Mabuse also contributed to this report.

By Chelsea J. Carter

Faith Karimi and Robyn Curnow

PRETORIA, South Africa (CNN) — Model Reeva Steenkamp was shot four times through the bathroom door at the home of Olympian Oscar Pistorius, a South African official familiar with the case told CNN on Monday.

She was alive after she was shot and was carried downstairs by Pistorius, said the official, who was not authorized to release details to the media.

A blood-stained cricket bat has also emerged as key evidence in the case, according to the City Press newspaper of Johannesburg.

Detectives are working to determine whether the bat was used to attack Steenkamp or she used it in self-defense, the newspaper reported, citing a source with inside knowledge of the case. Detectives are also looking into the possibility that Pistorius used the bat to break down the bathroom door.

The details are the latest to emerge in the shooting death that has roiled the nation and left South Africans asking what went so terribly wrong inside the upscale Pretoria home of the man nicknamed “Blade Runner” for his lightning-fast prosthetic legs.

The official, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said there were indications the 29-year-old model intended to stay the night at the house: She had an overnight bag and her iPad.

Authorities have released little about a possible motive in the Valentine’s Day shooting, while local media have reported that Pistorius had mistaken his girlfriend for an intruder. South African authorities have stressed that the scenario did not come from them, and said there was no evidence of forced entry at the home.

Police have charged Pistorius with murder, and he will appear in court Tuesday for a bail hearing. South African prosecutors have said they intend to upgrade the charge to premeditated murder, but have not released further details.

Pistorius, 26, has rejected the murder allegation “in the strongest terms,” his agent said in a statement.

Burial service

The same day Pistorius returns to court, Steenkamp will be buried in a private service in her hometown of Port Elizabeth.

Her burial Tuesday will come two days after South Africa’s national broadcaster aired a pre-recorded reality TV show featuring Steenkamp discussing her exit from “Tropika Island of Treasure,” on which local celebrities compete for prize money.

The decision to air the program took “much deliberation,” and “this week’s episode will be dedicated to Reeva’s memory,” said Samantha Moon, the executive producer.

The shooting has stunned South Africa, where Pistorius is a national hero as the first disabled athlete to compete in the able-bodied Olympic Games. He competed in the London Games as well as winning two gold medals in the Paralympic Games.

Headlines about the case have dominated in the days since Pistorius was arrested, though tight-lipped authorities have revealed little about what, if anything, the track star has said.

Questions swirl

Reports say Pistorius and Steenkamp became an item around November and were popular in South African social circles.

The night before the shooting, Steenkamp appeared to be looking forward to Valentine’s Day.

“What do you have up your sleeve for your love tomorrow?” she asked her Twitter followers the day before. “Get excited.”

Steenkamp was found in a pool of blood at Pistorius’ home Thursday morning. Neighbors alerted authorities to the early morning shooting, saying they had “heard things earlier,” police spokeswoman Denise Beukes has said. She did not clarify what the neighbors reported they heard.

Authorities also have not said whether Pistorius called for help.

Pictures of his walk to a police car, his head covered by a sweatshirt, have flashed repeatedly across television screens.

On Sunday, Pistorius canceled his appearances in five upcoming races.

The move is meant to help Pistorius focus on the legal proceedings and “help and support all those involved as they try to come to terms with this very difficult and distressing situation,” said Peet Van Zyl of Pistorius’ management company, In Site Athlete Management.

CNN’s Robyn Curnow reported from South Africa; Chelsea J. Carter and Faith Karimi reported from Atlanta.

™ & © 2013 Cable News Network, Inc., a Time Warner Company. All rights reserved.

PRETORIA, South Africa (CNN) — South African sports icon Oscar Pistorius wept uncontrollably Friday when a judge charged him in the killing of his girlfriend on Valentine’s Day.

Pistorius’ body shook, his head buried in his hands, as he appeared in court over the fatal shooting of his girlfriend, model Reeva Steenkamp, who was found at his home Thursday in an upscale Pretoria neighborhood.

The 26-year-old, nicknamed “Blade Runner,” for his Olympic debut last year with artificial legs, was arrested the same day.

Neighbors alerted authorities to the early morning shooting, saying they had “heard things earlier,” according to Denise Beukes, a police spokeswoman. She did not clarify what the neighbors heard.

Local media reported that he had mistaken his girlfriend for an intruder, but the police spokeswoman said those reports did not come from authorities.

There was no evidence of forced entry at the home, she said.

Police gave no motive for the alleged killing but said there had been “previous incidents” at the home, including “allegations of a domestic nature.” They did not provide details.

A pistol was recovered at the scene, police said.

South Africa has a high crime rate, and many homeowners keep weapons to ward off intruders.

Police to oppose bail

Pistorius, a Paralympic runner, blazed new terrain by competing in last summer’s Olympics.

After the alleged shooting, shock waves quickly reverberated across the world, casting a shadow over the man known as the “Blade Runner” for his achievements on prosthetic limbs.

Four years ago, he was arrested and accused of common assault, but the case was thrown out because of lack of evidence, authorities said.

That incident involved Pistorius allegedly slamming a door during a party, and a piece of the door fell off and hit someone, Capt. Marissa Van der Merwe said.

Police are not aware of any prior incidents between the runner and his girlfriend, according to Van der Merwe.

The runner’s spokeswoman, Kate Silvers, said the athlete is “assisting the police with their investigation” but there will be no further comment until matters become clearer.

The state will oppose bail, authorities said. They did not provide their reasons for opposing bail.

Controversy nothing new for Pistorius

The double amputee competed against able-bodied runners during the London Olympics, triggering controversy, as some said the prosthetic limbs gave him an advantage.

His legs were amputated below the knee when he was a toddler because of a bone defect. He runs on special carbon fiber blades.

Pistorius was initially refused permission to enter the Olympics, but he hired a legal team to prove that his artificial limbs did not give him an unfair advantage — and was allowed to compete.

While he did not win a medal, his presence on the track was lauded as an example of victory over adversity and dedication to a goal.

He smashed a Paralympic record to win the men’s 400m T44 in the final athletics event of the 2012 Games.

In an October, he discussed the “massive blessing” of inspiring people around the world.

“Being an international sportsman, there’s a lot of responsibility that comes with that,” he told CNN’s “Piers Morgan Tonight.

As more developments evolved, Nike pulled an ad featuring Pistorius from its website. It showed him taking off for a run, and the words” I am the bullet in the chamber.”

Other Pistorius sponsors — including prosthetics manufacturer Ossur, British Telecom, and Oakley, which makes sunglasses and other products — expressed condolences and said they had no further comment at this time.

CNN’s Nkepile Mabuse reported from Pretoria and Faith Karimi reported from Atlanta. CNN’s Josh Levs and Marilia Brocchetto contributed to this report

By Nkepile Mabuse. Josh Levs and Faith Karimi

PRETORIA, South Africa (CNN) — Olympic runner Oscar Pistorius has been charged with murder in the death of his girlfriend at his South Africa home early Thursday.

Reeva Steenkamp, 29, and Pistorius, 26, were the only two people in the upscale Pretoria home at the time of the shooting, police spokeswoman Denise Beukes said.

In keeping with South African law, Pistorius will be named officially as the suspect when he appears in court. The first court appearance is scheduled for Friday.

The state will oppose bail, Beukes said.

Pistorius will not appear Thursday because the public prosecutor needs more time to prepare the case, police spokeswoman Katlego Mogale told CNN.

He arrived Thursday at a police station in Pretoria.

Pistorius spokeswoman Kate Silvers said the athlete is “assisting the police with their investigation but there will be no further comment until matters become clearer later today.”

Police said Pistorius is cooperating with them.

There did not appear to be signs of forced entry at the home, Beukes said.

She also said there had been “previous incidents” at the home — “allegations of a domestic nature.”

Steenkamp was a model. Capacity Relations, the agency that represented her, said she was the victim.

Model Reeva Steenkamp is fatally shot at the home of Oscar Pistorius

South African model Reeva Steenkamp died early Thursday, February 14, 2013 after a shooting at the Pretoria home of Olympian Oscar Pistorius, her boyfriend. Authorities decline to name the 26-year-old man they have arrested in connection with the killing except to say that the suspect they have in custody will appear in Pretoria magistrate court Thursday. Capacity Relations released undated photographs of Steenkamp whom they represent and they asked for more time to get the facts of the incident straightened out. Pistorius was the first amputee to compete at an able-bodied Olympics. While he failed to win a medal at the London 2012 Games, Pistorius’ presence on the track represented a victory for the South African who successfully challenged early refusals for the right to compete
Courtesy: Capacity Relations

Pistorius, nicknamed the “Blade Runner,” made history when he became the first Paralympian to compete in the able-bodied Olympics last year.

Several South African media outlets reported that the woman was mistaken for an intruder.

Beukes said she was aware of those reports, but they did not come from the police force.

Pistorius’ father, Henke, told the South African Broadcasting Corp. his son was “sad at the moment.”

“I don’t know nothing. It will be extremely obnoxious and rude to speculate,” the father said. “I don’t know the facts.”

Beukes said that police were alerted to the shooting by neighbors and that residents “heard things earlier.”

A pistol was recovered at the scene, police said.

South Africa has a high crime rate, and it’s not unusual for homeowners to keep weapons to protect themselves from intruders.

However, Beukes said, “This is a very quiet area and this is a secure estate.”

Pistorius, a double amputee, ran with the aid of prosthetic limbs during the London Olympics last year. His legs were amputated below the knee when he was a toddler because of a bone defect. He runs on special carbon fiber blades that led to his nickname.

While he failed to win a medal in the Olympics, his presence on the track was lauded as an example of victory over adversity and a lesson in dedication toward a goal.

Pistorius was initially refused permission to compete against able-bodied runners, but he hired a legal team to prove that his artificial limbs didn’t give him an unfair advantage.

He smashed a Paralympic record to win the men’s 400m T44 in the final athletics event of the 2012 Games.

The athlete was among the men featured in People magazine’s Sexiest Man Alive issue last year.

CNN’s Nkepile Mabuse reported from Pretoria; CNN’s Josh Levs and Faith Karimi reported from Atlanta. CNN’s Richard Allen Greene and Marilia Brocchetto contributed to this report.

™ & © 2013 Cable News Network, Inc., a Time Warner Company. All rights reserved.

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