‘Blade runner’ Pistorius weeps in court over murder charges

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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

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