PRETORIA, SOUTH AFRICA -- Day one of testimony is underway in the trial of former track star Oscar Pistorius, the double-leg amputee who famously competed in the 2012 summer Olympic games.
In a rare affidavit submitted to the court, Pistorius already has detailed his version of what happened on Feb. 14, 2013--when his then-girlfriend Reeva Steenkamp (29) was killed. Pistorius wrote it was a quiet, normal evening at their home in Pretoria. He said after he went to bed, he heard a noise in the bathroom and thought an intruder had broken into the home. So, he said he grabbed his nine millimeter pistol and fired shots at the door, while telling his girlfriend to call police. He said he did not know his girlfriend was whom was in the bathroom and therefore accidentally shot and killed her.
Prosecutors argue Pistorius's story is not feasible. They say this incident was pre-meditated murder and not the "tragic mistake" the defense claims. They say Pistorius had calculated the precise angle at which to shoot and kill Steenkamp. They also say based on the floor plan of of the apartment, it would not have been possible for Pistorius to have crossed the bedroom without realizing Steenkamp was not in the room. The defense is expected to testify Pistorius was a man deeply in love who accidentally shot and killed Steenkamp. The defense also could refute potential witness testimony of Pistorius's reported angry, violent tendencies.
The trial began Monday with the state's first witness--Pistorius's neighbor Michelle Burger--being called to the stand. According to a CNN courthouse reporter, Burger has testified she heard loud screams from Pistorius's home the night of the murder. Tweets from reporters in the courtroom reveal there has been discrepancy in translation of witness testimony, and Burger has said she can proceed with testifying in English.
If convicted of premeditated murder, Pistorius faces a mandatory life sentence of 25 years, in addition to five years for each gun indictment and 15 years for a firearms charge.
South Africa abolished jury trials in 1969, so Pistorius's case will be decided by only a judge. For the first time in South Africa, part of the trial will be televised live.