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Oscar Pistorius Begins Testimony by Apologizing to Reeva Steenkamp’s Family
It’s been over a year since the world awoke to the shocking news that South African Olympic hero Oscar Pistorius had been arrested for murdering his girlfriend, Reeva Steenkamp. And while his trial has been underway for a little over two weeks—as you have no doubt already heard—it was not until today that the defense began its case and the world got to hear official testimony from the accused.
It all began with Pistorius making a tearful, quivering apology to Steenkamp’s family.
I want to apologize to Reeva’s family, to those of you who knew her and are here today. There is not a moment and there hasn’t been a moment since this tragedy happened that I haven’t thought about your family. I wake up in the morning and you’re the first people I think of, the first people I pray for. I can promise that when she went to bed that night she felt loved. I’ve tried to put my words on paper many times to write to you but no words would ever suffice.
After that Pistorius’ counsel asked about his mental and physical state since the night of the shooting, to which he responded that he’s been taking anti-depressants and sleeping pills. Then he elaborated:
I’m scared to sleep. I have terrible nightmares about things that happened that night. I can smell blood. I wake up to being terrified.
From there the line of questioning moved toward his childhood. At that point, while also throwing in elements of the inspirational Oscar Pistorius story everyone knows, he talked about how his late mother basically lived in fear:
My mother had a lot of security concerns, we grew up in a family where my father wasn’t around much, she would often get scared at night, she would phone the police… My mother had a pistol. She kept her firearm in a padded bag under her pillow.
At this point the defense really started laying the groundwork for their interpretation of the tragic events that unfolded in Feburary of 2013—namely, that Pistorious lived in constant, well-founded fear of crime that led him to believe intruders were in his bathroom.
“Everybody in South Africa has been exposed to crime at some point,” Pistorius said, before discussing, among other things:
- the time his father’s house was ransacked when he was a child
- the time somebody fired a gun at his car
- the time a suspicious car followed him home
- the time he was verbally abused and physically attacked at a party
- and the time somebody used a ladder to break into the second floor window of a house in his walled neighborhood and tied up a housekeeper while robbing the place
Pistorius also explained that he was so worried about crime that he asked his brother not to drive his new VW Golf to his house for fear of carjacking; that he was extra worried when Steenkamp was around; and that he even got an American pitbull to serve as a guard dog.
After all that, Pistorius’s lawyer had him talk about his extremely devout faith…right before asking the judge if they could adjourn for the day. So that’s where things stand right now.
Pistorius’s testimony will resume tomorrow, and it’s pretty clear where all this is going: Pistorius didn’t think he was killing Steenkamp. He thought he was protecting her.
Hat Tip – [The Guardian]