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Oscar Pistorius’ close neighbors testify at murder trial

May 6, 2014, 8:07 AM EDT

Oscar Pistorius AP

Three of Oscar Pistorius‘ closest neighbors said they heard a man crying on the early morning that the runner fatally shot his girlfriend at his murder trial Tuesday.

Next-door neighbor Eontle Nhlengethwa was woken by a loud bang on Valentine’s Day 2013, then heard a male voice saying, “Help! Help! Help!” followed by high-pitched male cries, she said through an interpreter in the Pretoria, South Africa, court room.

She woke her husband, Michael Nhlengethwa, after hearing the bang. He said he heard a man crying very loudly, not weeping but as if he was in danger, saying something like, “No, please, please, no.”

Ria Motshuane, who lived in another house next to Pistorius, said she was woken by a man in a “cry of pain.”

They were the sixth, seventh and eighth witnesses called by the defense on the 27th day of the trial.

Pistorius, the first double amputee to run in the Olympics in 2012, said he thought an intruder was locked inside his bathroom when he shot four times through a locked door, hitting and killing Steenkamp inside.

He 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.

The lead defense lawyer estimated he could wrap the defense’s case by next Tuesday. The trial is then expected to break in preparation for closing arguments, followed by the judge and her assessors taking their time to consider evidence before delivering the verdict, according to The Associated Press.

On Tuesday, the two female witnesses were asked to recreate the male screams they heard. Eontle Nhlengethwa delivered a cat-like, high-pitched wail. Motshuane howled twice, also in a high pitch.

Pistorius has said he screamed for help after he realized it may have been Steenkamp whom he shot, but before he bashed open the door with a cricket bat to find her inside.

Previous witnesses called by prosecutors who lived more than 100 meters farther away from Pistorius testified they heard female screams on the night of the shooting. The prosecution asserts Pistorius and Steenkamp argued before the shooting.

The witnesses Tuesday said that they did not hear female screams nor bangs or gunshots after the male cries.

Michael Nhlengethwa said Pistorius referred to Steenkamp as his fiancée and that he wanted to move from Pretoria to Johannesburg in March 2013 and “be closer to Reeva.”

The trial is scheduled to resume at 3:30 a.m. ET on Thursday, taking a break for Election Day in South Africa on Wednesday.

Here’s NBC News’ full coverage of the trial.

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