May 5, 2014, 8:11 AM EDT
The first two neighbors to arrive at Oscar Pistorius‘ house after he fatally shot girlfriend Reeva Steenkamp described a “frantic” scene from last year at the runner’s murder trial Monday.
Friend Johan Stander testified he believed Pistorius made a mistake killing Steenkamp on the early morning of Valentine’s Day 2013, after seeing the runner crying and praying shortly after the shooting.
“[Pistorius] was torn apart, broken, desperate, pleading,” Stander said in a Pretoria, South Africa, court room. “It’s difficult, really, to describe, and his commitment to save the young lady’s life, when he put his finger in [her] mouth and tried to keep the airway open to breathe. How he begged her to stay with him, how he begged God to keep her alive. I saw the truth there that morning. I saw it, and I feel it.”
The trial resumed Monday, after a two-week adjournment, for its 26th day. The prosecution already wrapped its case, and the defense said it expected to finish calling up to 17 witnesses by mid-May. Stander and his daughter, Carice Viljoen, were the fourth and fifth witnesses called by the defense.
They both testified Pistorius told them that morning, in separate conversations, that he thought Steenkamp was an intruder when he shot four times through a locked bathroom door, killing her inside.
The prosecution asserts he knowingly shot Steenkamp after an argument. Pistorius, the first double amputee to run in the Olympics in 2012, faces 25 years to life in prison if convicted of premeditated murder. If not found guilty of premeditated murder, Pistorius could be convicted of culpable homicide, South Africa’s version of manslaughter for negligent killing.
Pistorius has said Stander was the first person he called after shooting Steenkamp, waking Stander around 3:20 a.m.
“Please, please, please come to my house, please,” Stander, who has known the runner since 2009, said Pistorius told him. “I shot Reeva. I thought she was a intruder. Please, please come quick.”
Viljoen said she drove Stander in a silver Mini to Pistorius’ house, about a minute away in the same gated community. They arrived a few minutes after the phone call. Viljoen turned the car’s hazards on. Then she, followed by Stander, rushed past a security guard and a worker from Pistorius’ house and through an ajar front door with a light on inside.
“From the second that we walked into that house, he was frantic,” Viljoen said.
They first saw Pistorius carrying Steenkamp down stairs.
“When Mr. Pistorius saw us, there was relief on his face,” Stander said. “He was crying. He was really crying. He was in pain, and he asked us to please assist him.”
Viljoen stayed in and knelt next to Steenkamp, with Pistorius on the other side.
“I just saw blood everywhere,” Viljoen said in hectic testimony given “at the speed of light,” the lead prosecutor later said.
Viljoen went upstairs to grab a few towels to control the bleeding. Pistorius stayed behind, begging and pleading with Steenkamp not to leave him, Viljoen said.
“Stay with me, my love,” Pistorius said, according to Viljoen.
Viljoen asked Pistorius what happened.
“He just looked at me and said, ‘I thought she was an intruder,'” Viljoen said, not asking a follow-up because, “We just continued trying to save her life at that stage.”
Viljoen said she saw Pistorius vomit a few times. Pistorius later went upstairs, and she feared he might have gone to find a gun to shoot himself.
Stander went outside to call an ambulance, and Steenkamp was declared dead shortly after it arrived, he said.
“It was a hectic day,” Viljoen said.
In the court room, Pistorius leaned over and covered his face with his hands during the most emotional testimony Monday.
The trial is scheduled to resume at 9:30 a.m. Tuesday, one day before South Africa’s election day Wednesday.
Jul 31, 2014, 9:08 AM EDT
Boston Marathon winner Keflezighi returns to site of 2009 triumph.
Jul 31, 2014, 8:31 AM EDT
“After the Olympics I grew up,” Sotnikova told RIA Novosti.
Jul 30, 2014, 1:30 PM EDT
Michael Phelps, Ryan Lochte, Missy Franklin, Katie Ledecky slated for meet in Irvine, Calif., next week.
Jul 30, 2014, 11:42 AM EDT
Water main break sent up to 10 million gallons of water around campus.
Jul 30, 2014, 11:11 AM EDT
Felicia Zhang and Nate Bartholomay have ended their pairs partnership but teamed up at Tropicana Field.
Jul 30, 2014, 10:35 AM EDT
German track and field president said the jumper could gain a “catapult effect.”
Jul 30, 2014, 9:49 AM EDT
Every 2012 Olympian and 2013 World Championships team member is in the field.
Jul 29, 2014, 5:20 PM EDT
It became Xxx at a passport office, according to the BBC.
Jul 29, 2014, 4:35 PM EDT
Boston is one of four finalist cities for a potential U.S. bid for the 2024 Olympics.
Jul 29, 2014, 3:34 PM EDT
Officials hope to hold test event in late 2015 or early 2016.
Jul 29, 2014, 3:02 PM EDT
Olympic silver medalist speed skater hit his first two professional home runs.
Jul 29, 2014, 11:14 AM EDT
Prince Harry follows the Queen’s lead in Glasgow.
Jul 29, 2014, 10:41 AM EDT
Scottish player pulls off a “wedgie” celebration.
Jul 29, 2014, 10:02 AM EDT
Chika Amalaha may be stripped of her gold after becoming the youngest women’s weightlifting champion in Commonwealth Games history.
Jul 28, 2014, 8:55 PM EDT
Athletes found safe in Beaverton, Ore., after going missing in Eugene.
Jul 28, 2014, 11:01 AM EDT
Nanjing Games open Aug. 16.
Jul 28, 2014, 10:39 AM EDT
Retired Olympic champion took part in Korea Skating Union workshop, according to South Korean media.
Jul 28, 2014, 10:19 AM EDT
Lawrence won gold on the U.S. 4x400m relay team at the 2014 IAAF World Relays.
Jul 28, 2014, 9:32 AM EDT
Neymar played in 2012, but there’s a new obstacle that could keep him out of 2016.
Jul 27, 2014, 6:46 PM EDT
Kerri Walsh Jennings notched a milestone victory.
- Meb Keflezighi, Caroline Wozniacki to run New York City Marathon 0
- U.S. swimming rankings going into National Championships 0
- German long jump champion, a Paralympian, left off European Championships roster 2
- Eddy Alvarez heats up in Arizona League 0
- U.S. 400m runner Torrin Lawrence dies in car accident 0
- Brazil’s Olympic coach wants Neymar to play at Rio 2016 0
- U.S. teams sweep World Series of Beach Volleyball (video) 0
- Emotional Bode Miller medals in race that mattered most (61)
- Russian women kissing after relay victory at World Championships causes stir (56)
- IOC drops wrestling from 2020 Olympics (47)
- South Korea filing official complaint over Yuna Kim’s Olympic silver (38)
- Zola Budd, 47, dominates college runners in 5K (33)