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Oscar Pistorius Murder Case

pistoriusOlympic and Paralympic runner Oscar Pistorius, nicknamed “Blade Runner,” has been charged with murder in the shooting death of his model girlfriend in South Africa.

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PRETORIA, SOUTH AFRICA (CNN) — South African track star Oscar Pistorius, charged with murdering girlfriend Reeva Steenkamp, has applied for more lenient bail restrictions, including permission to travel overseas, a family spokesman said Monday.

pistorius-cryPistorius also is trying to sell some assets to settle legal bills, spokesman Johan van Wyk told CNN. His Pretoria home and his racehorses are among the items Pistorius is trying to sell, according to his family.

But the sprinter’s family denied BBC reports Monday that he’s suicidal as he awaits trial in what prosecutors say was the premeditated death of Steenkamp. Pistorius acknowledges killing her, but says it was an accident.

The BBC3 report is based on statements from a man the network described as a close family friend who called Pistorius a “broken man.”

“I would go as far to say that he could be on the verge of suicide,” the network quoted Mike Azzie as saying for an upcoming BBC documentary.

Pistorius repeatedly broke down and sobbed during a bail hearing last month, and the runner’s uncle, Arnold Pistorius, acknowledged in a statement that his nephew “will never be the same” after killing Steenkamp.

But the uncle said he’s far from suicidal.

“Oscar, broken as he currently is, believes he has a purpose in life and is working towards that. Media reports to the contrary are untrue,” Arnold Pistorius said.

Authorities charged Pistorius with premeditated murder last month after he shot Steenkamp in his Pretoria home on February 14.

The Olympic and Paralympic sprinter, known as the “Blade Runner” for competing on carbon fiber blades fitted to the stumps of his amputated legs, said he thought Steenkamp was an intruder. Prosecutors argue he intentionally killed her after a loud argument.

A judge ordered Pistorius released on bail last month.

Among the bail conditions: He cannot return to the home where the shooting happened, had to give up his passport, cannot go near an airport and cannot drink alcohol.

Pretoria, South Africa (CNN) — Oscar Pistorius left jail Friday, free on bond eight days after the shooting death of his model girlfriend, Reeva Steenkamp.

Magistrate Desmond Nair said the state had problems with its investigation and had not offered enough proof to keep Pistorius jailed.

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

“We are relieved,” said Pistorius’ uncle, Arnold, speaking on behalf of the family.

Pistorius, who wept throughout much of Friday’s hearing, remained quiet and reserved after the announcement and did not appear to celebrate. His family hugged quietly.

“As a family, we know Oscar’s version of what happened that tragic night. And we know that that is the truth and that will prevail in the coming court cases,” his uncle said.

Pistorius is accused of premeditated murder in the February 14 shooting death of Steenkamp, 29.

Prosecutors say Pistorius, 26, killed her after a heated argument in the early morning hours of Valentine’s Day.

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

“I’d like to ask Oscar why he didn’t lean over and touch my cousin first…and say ‘are you okay?’ ‘keep quiet,’ ‘I’m coming now,’” said Kim Martin, Steenkamp’s cousin.

While recounting a litany of “improbabilities” in Pistorius’ account, Nair said defense attorneys had done enough to prove the “exceptional circumstances” required by South African law for the release of a suspect charged with premeditated murder.

He said the former chief investigator in the case, Hilton Botha, had made “several errors and concessions” in his testimony at the bail hearing, and said prosecutors had failed to prove that Pistorius was a flight risk or had a propensity toward violence.

Botha was replaced after prosecutors reinstated attempted murder charges against him in a 2011 incident unrelated to Pistorius.

Key arguments

During the four-day bail hearing, prosecutors argued that Pistorius had a history of violence and that his account didn’t add up.

Prosecutors relied heavily on Botha’s testimony, including statements from witnesses, who said they heard Pistorius and Steenkamp arguing before the shooting, as well as ballistic evidence that Botha said proved Pistorius was lying about how he had shot into the door.

But Botha seemed to buckle under questioning from defense attorney Barry Roux, who got the detective to acknowledge that the bullet evidence wasn’t as conclusive as he had initially said and that at least one witness he had spoken to could not say for certain that the sounds he had heard came from Pistorius’ house.

Nair also said that Botha had failed to exhaustively check cell phone records and chided the investigator for failing to check with Interpol before testifying that Pistorius owned a home in Italy — raising his profile as a potential flight risk.

The source of the information about the house apparently was a magazine article, the judge noted.

Roux also said that defense investigators had found a bullet missed by police and that police may have contaminated the crime scene by failing to wear protective shoe covers. Police had run out of the covers, Botha testified.

Nair said he wasn’t convinced by prosecution arguments that Pistorius had a violent nature and was a threat to the public. The prosecution cited an incident in which Pistorius reportedly fired a gun on accident inside a Johannesburg restaurant and another in which he allegedly made violent threats.

Finally, Nair said Botha had “blundered” in testifying that a substance recovered from Pistorius’ home was testosterone. Some outsiders to the case have speculated that steroids or other substances could have played a role in the killing.

The defense lawyer told Nair the substance was a legal herbal remedy. Tests are ongoing, authorities said.

Too soon to judge

On the other hand, Nair said Pistorius’ account is full of “improbabilities,” from why he did not know Steenkamp had gotten out of bed to why he would have charged toward the bathroom door — where he believed he had an intruder cornered — if he was as scared for his life as he claimed.

Nair warned that it is too soon to judge the state’s case, and he noted that a wide range of experts beyond Botha had worked on the initial phases of the investigation — from ballistics experts to specialists in blood spatter.

“The pieces of the puzzle may not yet all be before me,” he said.

Conditions of bail

Pistorius left jail in a Land Rover chased by paparazzi on motorcycles Friday afternoon after posting a cash bond of 100,000 Rand (about $11,200). Another 900,000 Rand (about $100,800) is due by March 1, Nair said. He headed to his uncle’s home after his release.

He cannot return to the home where the shooting happened, has to give up his passport and can’t go near an airport, Nair ruled. He also can’t drink alcohol and must report to a police station every Monday and Friday.

Investigator’s removal

The decision comes a day after the South African Police Service moved to remove Botha from the case.

Botha, a 22-year detective, is accused of seven counts of attempted murder after allegedly chasing and firing on a minibus full of people while drunk, according to officials.

A spokeswoman for South Africa’s prosecution service said the accusations would be little more than a “speed bump” in the case.

Friend reacts

Model Vanessa Haywood, a South African model who is friends with Pistorius, said the murder charge doesn’t fit with the kind-spirited man she knows. And she said she can relate to Pistorius’ story of being filled with terror at the thought of an intruder.

“It’s not the safest place in the world,” she said of crime-ridden South Africa, where murder and carjacking cases are common. “My own home is like a prison. His version of events isn’t as far-fetched as people think it is.”

Blade Runner’

Pistorius earned the nickname “Blade Runner” as he competed on special carbon fiber blades in place of more traditional prosthetic limbs. He was born missing bones in his lower legs, and doctors amputated his legs below the knees when he was 11 months old.

Pistorius attained fame as a symbol of triumph over adversity when won a challenge to compete in the London Olympics. While he failed to medal there, he smashed a record to win the men’s 400-meter race in the Paralympic Games a few weeks later.

He is considered a national hero in South Africa.

Pistorius put his career on hold after his arrest, and sponsors Nike and Oakley suspended their contracts with him.

His coach said Friday before the bail decision that, should he be let out on bail, the runner would resume training.

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.

pistorius-girlfriendNair 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 also 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 didn’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.

Pretoria, South Africa (CNN) — The bail hearing for Oscar Pistorius wheeled toward the bizarre Thursday with the revelation that the lead investigator in the case against the famous Olympic sprinter is facing attempted murder charges.

The South African Police Service pulled lead investigator Hilton Botha from the case after prosecutors reinstated attempted murder charges against him in a 2011 incident.

detective-pistoriusBotha is accused of seven counts of attempted murder in an incident in which he and other officers allegedly chased and fired on a minibus full of people while drunk.

Prosecutors are trying to keep Pistorius jailed pending his trial on a charge of premeditated murder in the February 14 shooting death of his girlfriend, model Reeva Steenkamp, 29.

The hearing ended Thursday with no decision on bail and is scheduled to resume Friday.

It’s unclear what impact the accusation involving Botha will have on the case against Pistorius, the acclaimed Paralympic and Olympic sprinter known for running on prosthetic carbon fiber blades in place of legs amputated when he was a child.

Police Commissioner Riah Phiyega announced in a news conference that Botha would be replaced by the department’s most senior detective, Vinesh Moonoo.

Bulelwa Makeke, the spokeswoman for South Africa’s National Prosecuting Authority, said before the announcement that even if Botha remained in charge of the case, the accusations would be little more than a “speed bump.”

“But the important issue here is that the state was not relying on just his oral testimony, it’s really relying more on forensics and that real hard evidence that came out of the scene,” Makeke said.

Pistorius, 26, is accused of the premeditated murder of Steenkamp after, according to prosecutors, 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 the person inside was Steenkamp.

Final arguments

In arguments capping the three-day bail hearing, Prosecutor Gerrie Nel said Pistorius’ defense team has failed to explain why investigators found two cell phones and the gun believed 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.

Early in the prosecution statement, Magistrate Desmond Nair interrupted to ask if it is possible that Pistorius could have repositioned the phones and gun after the killing.

Nel also said Pistorius has shown a lack of realization of what he has done and cast doubt on Pistorius’ claims that one of the reasons for his extreme fear that night was that he had been a victim of burglary and violent crime in the past.

Where, Nel asked, are the court cases from those incidents? Why, Nel asked, didn’t Pistorius whisper to Steenkamp or try to wake her up when he heard noises?

During his argument, defense attorney Barry Roux told Nair that the prosecution’s case had suffered a monumental collapse.

He said Botha acknowledged that investigators had failed to collect any evidence that counters Pistorius’ argument that he mistakenly shot Steenkamp.

Realizing what he had done, Pistorius says, he broke down the door to the toilet, scooped up the mortally wounded woman and ran downstairs in a vain attempt to rush her to the hospital.

Roux has also questioned police claims that a witness who lived at least 300 meters (328 yards) from Pistorius’ home had heard a raging argument coming from the home.

He also blasted how police investigated the crime scene, saying his forensic investigators had found a spent bullet in the toilet that police had missed.

He also said officers had trooped through the home without wearing foot covers and had failed to properly investigate and catalog evidence found there, including ammunition and a bottle of what Botha first called testosterone before backtracking.

Roux said the substance is an herbal remedy.

Authorities have argued that ballistic evidence shows Pistorius had to intentionally target the toilet to strike Steenkamp, and that evidence shows he was standing on his prosthetic legs when he shot through the bathroom door.

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.

Prosecutors are fighting bail because they worry that Pistorius will disappear if he’s released, and they say that he has a history of police encounters that suggest he is a threat to public safety.

Pistorius has pledged to stay in South Africa and fight the charges if released, adding that he’s unlikely to escape notice as a well-known athlete who walks on prosthetic legs.

Anger about detention

Prosecution arguments began late Thursday afternoon, and Nair did not rule on bail for Pistorius, who has been held since his arrest last week in a police station holding cell.

Nel is expected to finish arguments Friday morning, followed by a defense rebuttal and, finally, a decision on bail by Nair.

That arrangement angered the women’s branch of South Africa’s ruling party, which accused authorities of giving Pistorius special treatment by holding him at the police station instead of a South African prison where it says suspects awaiting trial or bond are more typically held.

“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.”

Nike pulls away from sprinter

Also Thursday, Nike announced it had suspended its contract with Pistorius.

“We believe Oscar Pistorius should be afforded due process and we will continue to monitor the situation closely,” the sports apparel company said in a prepared statement.

Nike had already pulled a TV ad featuring the sports star.

Family reaction

Steenkamp’s half-brother Adam Steenkamp said that he hopes Pistorius remains jailed.

“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.”

He said the family was “doing OK.”

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

PRETORIA, South Africa — Prosecutors on Wednesday unveiled what seemed damning testimony against Olympic athlete Oscar Pistorius, who is accused of murdering his girlfriend. But as the day wore on, the defense savaged the state’s case, portraying the investigation as bumbling and shoddy.

Laying out what is likely to be the basis of their case, prosecutors said at Pistorius’ bail hearing that a witness heard what sounded like a quarrel shortly before model Reeva Steenkamp was fatally shot the night of Feb. 13. Another neighbor heard a shot, a woman’s scream, then more gunshots, they said.

The police investigator in the case, Hilton Botha, said Pistorius didn’t call an ambulance after the shooting. The athlete had a history of threatening people, he told the court, adding that boxes of what the officer first identified as steroids but later called testosterone were found in Pistorius’ home.

“I believe that he knew that Reeva was in the bathroom and he shot four shots through the door and killed her,” Botha told the court. Pistorius stood with his back to two sinks and fired from about 9 feet into the enclosed toilet, the prosecution said.

But after defense attorney Barry Roux succeeded in raising questions about the evidence, Pistorius’ chances of getting bail appeared to improve. The athlete says he shot Steenkamp by mistake, convinced she was a burglar.

South Africans have been riveted by the twists and turns in the evidence, conveyed by journalists in minute-by-minute tweets as the case unfolds in court. With the major contentions of both sides tested, the bail hearing, which is expected to conclude Thursday, seemed more like a mini-trial.

Under cross-examination, Botha acknowledged that he had found nothing at the scene inconsistent with Pistorius’ account of mistaking Steenkamp for a burglar. He also said Steenkamp had no defensive wounds, nor were there any signs of a struggle or an assault.

Botha acknowledged that the woman who said she’d heard what sounded like quarreling lived about 600 yards from Pistorius’ home. The defendant’s large contingent of supporters in court gasped and tittered at this revelation. Botha later modified that to 300 yards, muttering that he would like to measure the distance.

Roux attacked the testimony that Pistorius, a double amputee who competed in last year’s London Olympic Games, had boxes of testosterone and needles in his home. He told the court that the substance was an herbal remedy.

“It’s not a steroid and it’s not a banned substance,” Roux said loudly, leading Botha to admit that he had not read the label fully.

The claim that Pistorius hadn’t phoned an ambulance after shooting Steenkamp relied on checks of several phones found in the bathroom. But Roux said police failed to check with the medical service provider, Netcare. In fact, he said, Pistorius called Netcare at 3:20 a.m., minutes after the shooting, from another phone.

Roux said Pistorius also called a security guard but forgot to hang up after the call. The security guard heard Pistorius crying over the line, he said.

The neighbor who had reported hearing a woman screaming after the first gunshot also claimed to have heard more shots than were fired, Botha agreed. That neighbor also said the lights were on in the house; Pistorius has said it was pitch-dark.

According to Roux, the postmortem examination showed that Steenkamp’s bladder was empty, suggesting she had gotten up to use the toilet. That was consistent with Pistorius’ account that he heard noises in the bathroom after he went to the balcony to get a fan, he said.

The defense attorney accused the police investigator of discounting any evidence that supported the athlete’s version of events. He hammered the policeman’s contention that Pistorius could be a flight risk because he had overseas bank accounts and a house in Italy. Roux said there was no active cash account nor any overseas house.

Botha also admitted that he had entered the house without wearing the shoe protectors required at crime scenes, potentially disturbing evidence.

He acknowledged that police had failed to find a bullet that was lodged in the bathroom door. Nor did police take any steps to find out who owned .38-caliber ammunition found in Pistorius’ safe. Roux said it belonged to Pistorius’ father.

Botha said the younger Pistorius fired a gun accidentally last month at a restaurant in upscale Melrose Arch and, fearing bad publicity, persuaded someone else to “take the rap.” The officer also said Pistorius threatened a witness after a quarrel last year at a race track.

At the end of Wednesday’s proceedings, Chief Magistrate Desmond Nair questioned Botha on whether an Olympic athlete whose face was so familiar would flee overseas when he had a chance to clear his name in court.

“It’s possible. That’s all I can say,” Botha responded.

The trial is not expected to begin for several months. If convicted of premeditated murder, Pistorius could face life in prison. South Africa does not impose the death penalty.

Los Angeles Times

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.

The shape of prosecutors’ case against Oscar Pistorius began to come into focus Wednesday as they argued the Olympian charged with killing his girlfriend, model Reeva Steenkamp, should be denied bail because he might disappear if released from jail.

But the Olympic sprinter’s defense team battled back, questioning the quality of the police investigation.

The bail hearing ended Wednesday with no decision. Final arguments are scheduled for Thursday morning.

Pistorius is charged with premeditated murder in the death of Steenkamp in the early hours of Valentine’s Day. He has said he thought he was shooting at an intruder.

But police investigator Hilton 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.

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 a statement read Tuesday by his lawyer that he believes Steenkamp slipped 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 also said police believe a blood-stained cricket bat found in the bathroom was used to break down the locked door to the toilet.

Pistorius said in his statement that he used the bat to break down the door in an effort to get to Steenkamp to help her.

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.

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

He also 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.

Investigators also went into Pistorius’ home without wearing protective foot covers to prevent contaminating the crime scene, Roux said. Botha conceded that was true and said it was because police didn’t have any more of the covers left.

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.

Would he run?

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

He described two 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 have also said they have responded to previous domestic incidents at Pistorius’ home, but have not elaborated.

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

High hurdle

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.

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.

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.

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.”

Pretoria, South Africa (CNN) – It was the middle of the night, Oscar Pistorius says, and he thought an intruder was in the house.

Not wearing his prosthetic legs, feeling vulnerable in the pitch dark and too scared to turn on the lights, the track star pulled his 9mm pistol from beneath his bed, moved toward the bathroom and fired into the door.

pistorius-girlfriendIt was only after he called to girlfriend Reeva Steenkamp — whom he thought had been in bed beside him after a quiet evening — that he realized something horrible might have happened, he told Chief Magistrate Desmond Nair in a statement read by his lawyer during his bond hearing Tuesday.

Prosecutors dispute the version of events that Pistorius detailed in his statement.

Pistorius says he broke down the locked bathroom door — at one point in the statement saying he kicked the door in, at another saying he used a cricket bat to break it down — then scooped up the mortally wounded Steenkamp and carried her downstairs after for help.

“I tried to render the assistance to Reeva that I could, but she died in my arms,” he said in the statement. “I am absolutely mortified by the events and the devastating loss of my beloved Reeva.”

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

Prosecutors say they believe Pistorius put on his prosthetic legs, picked up his gun and walked to the bathroom where Steenkamp, 29, had locked herself — apparently after a heated argument — and shot at her four times.

Three of the bullets struck Steenkamp, who died soon after. Her funeral was Tuesday.

Pistorius spent much of the hearing sobbing and heaving at the mention of his girlfriend’s name, at one point forcing Nair to stop the proceedings to ask him to compose himself.

His family stood nearby, huddling during breaks and appearing to pray. During parts of the hearing, Pistorius’ brother placed his hand on the suspect’s back.

During Tuesday’s hearing, Nair upgraded the charge against Pistorius to premeditated murder, saying he could not rule out the possibility that the track star planned Steenkamp’s death.

But Nair said he will consider downgrading the charge later.

The allegation of premeditation makes it more difficult for Pistorius’ attorneys to argue he should be released on bail pending trial.

To win bail, the defense must argue that “exceptional circumstances” exist that would justify Pistorius’ release.

The session ended Tuesday afternoon with no decision on bail for Pistorius, 26. Prosecutors said they needed time to study the affidavits read in court before deciding how to proceed.

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

The hearing is scheduled to resume Wednesday morning.

A tragic mistake?

In his statement, Pistorius said Steenkamp came over February 13, opting for a quiet dinner in over a night out with friends.

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 the open bathroom window, moving in the dark on the stumps of his amputated legs, Pistorius grabbed his pistol from under the bed and yelled at 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,” Pistorius 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 but, but she died.

“I cannot bear to think of the suffering I have caused her and her family, knowing how much she was loved,” he said.

But he said he did not mean to kill her, and protested the charges against him.

“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 the statement.

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

A premeditated murder?

Prosecutors, however, painted a different picture.

They rejected Pistorius’ claim that he mistook her 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 Steenkamp through a bathroom door after a heated argument.

Defense attorney Barry Roux 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.

Detectives are investigating the blood-stained cricket bat found in the home, Johannesburg’s City Press newspaper reported.

They 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, the newspaper said.

Final farewells for Steenkamp

As the drama in court unfolded, friends and family mourned Steenkamp at a private funeral in her hometown of Port Elizabeth.

“There’s a space missing inside all the people she knew that can’t be filled again,” her brother Adam Steenkamp told reporters outside.

Steenkamp was a law school graduate whose modeling career was on the rise. She landed the cover of FHM magazine and recently appeared on a reality TV show.

On Sunday, South Africans heard Steenkamp’s voice one last time after her death, when the national broadcaster aired a pre-recorded episode of the show.

The model talked about 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.

Case rivets fans

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

As he walked into court in a blue shirt and gray suit, frenzied photographers snapped away, prompting the judge to demand they stop.

The scene was a far cry from the packed stadiums that erupted in applause whenever the double-amputee competed against men with legs.

On social media, sentiment appeared to mixed. “Oscar Pistorius is telling us rubbish,” one Twitter user posted.

But others were more supportive after hearing Pistorius’ story. “I for some reason believe Pistorius after reading his affidavit!!,” another person tweeted.

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.

reeva-picShe 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.

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 on 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 that “this week’s episode will be dedicated to Reeva’s memory,” Samantha Moon, the executive producer, said.

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 appearance 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.

reeva692PRETORIA, SOUTH AFRICA – A celebrity TV reality show featuring Reeva Steenkamp — the model allegedly murdered by Paralympic athlete Oscar Pistorius — is airing Saturday night (Feb. 16) in South Africa.

Pistorius, given the nickname ‘Blade Runner’ after he competed in last year’s Olympics on special carbon fiber blades attached to his legs, is accused of shooting Steenkamp repeatedly at his home.

Pistorius’s legs had been amputated below the knees when he was a toddler, because of a bone defect.

South Africa’s broadcasting company confirmed that the fifth series of ‘Tropika Island of Treasure’ will begin airing tonight as scheduled, and will include Steenkamp on the show.

The show’s executive producer said while there had been much deliberation about whether or not to include the beautiful model in the show, the decision was made to include her so that they could show her ‘light and laughter’ to those who did not know her.

Meanwhile Pistorius, the boyfriend accused in her killing, will appear at a bail hearing on Tuesday (Feb. 19).

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