News

Pistorius weeps as court hears autopsy details

Pistorius weeps as court hears autopsy details

ON TRIAL: Olympic and Paralympic track star Oscar Pistorius reacts during a testimony at the North Gauteng High Court in Pretoria March 10. Photo: Reuters/Bongiwe Mchunu

By Vanessa Romeo

PRETORIA (Reuters) – “Blade Runner” Oscar Pistorius broke down on Monday when a South African court heard details from the autopsy of girlfriend Reeva Steenkamp, whom the track star is accused of murdering on Valentine’s Day last year.

The testimony of pathologist Gert Saayman was interrupted twice by Pistorius’ sobbing and retching but the defense team argued against an adjournment, saying a break would not improve the 27-year-old Paralympic and Olympic athlete’s state of mind.

Earlier, Judge Thokozile Masipa imposed a broadcast blackout on Saayman’s testimony out of respect for Steenkamp’s family and to prevent viewers such as children from accidentally hearing its contents.

“Broadcast would compromise the privacy of the deceased, hurt the interests of the Steenkamps and be against the morals of society,” Saayam said when he took the stand to argue for a temporary broadcast blackout of the trial, which had so far been shown in its entirety on live television.

Masipa, who has been presiding over the week-long trial, extended the ban to live reporting on Twitter.

Pistorius admits he shot 29-year-old Steenkamp but argues that it was a tragic case of mistaken identity and that he thought she was an intruder who had broken in to his luxury Pretoria home.

In his testimony, Saayman confirmed that Steenkamp died from multiple gunshot wounds, having been hit in the head, arm and hip by three shots fired through the locked door of a toilet cubicle. A fourth round fired by Pistorius missed.

As Saayman spoke, Pistorius sat with head bowed, covering his ears with his hands and a white handkerchief.

Sayaam is the first expert to testify at the trial, which has so far heard several witnesses who reported hearing a woman screaming before a volley shots in the early hours of February 14 at Pistorius’ home.

The killing stunned South Africa and the millions of Pistorius supporters around the world who admired the athlete as a symbol of triumph over physical adversity.

He had his disabled lower legs amputated as a baby but – running on carbon fiber prosthetic “blades” – made it to the semi-final of the 400 meters at the London 2012 Olympics competing against able-bodied sprinters.

If found guilty of murder, he faces at least 25 years behind bars.

(Additional reporting by Lynette Ndabambi; Writing by Ed Cropley; Editing by David Dolan)

Recent Headlines

in Sports

Bosh officially re-signs with Heat

Fresh
bosh

The Miami Heat officially re-signed of nine-time All-Star forward Chris Bosh.

in National

House approves $17B veterans health care bill

Fresh
veterans

The U.S. House of Representatives overwhelmingly approved a plan to ease delays at the scandal-plagued Veterans Affairs Department.

in National

House Republicans vote to sue Obama over health care

Fresh
obama

The Republican-led U.S. House of Representatives cleared the way for a lawsuit accusing the President of overstepping his authority.

in National

Hyundai recalls 883K Sonatas

hyundai

Hyundai is recalling its popular Sonata midsize sedan to fix problems with the gear shift levers.

in Sports

Nadal withdraws from Toronto, Cincinnati events

nadal

Rafa Nadal will miss two U.S. Open tune-up events due to a wrist injury, putting his status in doubt for a title defense at the year's final grand slam.