WASHINGTON, February 16, 2013 — Slowly details are emerging about the Valentine’s Day murder of the model girlfriend of the 2012 Olympic and Paralympic hero, Oscar Pistorius. And it is not pretty.
On Friday, after spending a night in police custody and vehemently denying he had killed Reeva Steenkamp, the celebrated double-amputee sprinter, called the Blade Runner, thanks to his carbon fiber prostheses legs, was charged with premeditated murder.
He broke into heaving sobs as the charges were read, entering no plea. He will return to court on Feb. 19 for a bail hearing. Pistorius, 26, faces life in person if found guilty, but he has hired one of South Africa’s best attorneys.
The Afrikaans-language newspaper Beeld said that Steenkamp was shot four times after taking refuge in the bathroom. She had cowered behind the bathroom door but had been shot through the door, hitting her in the head, chest, pelvis, and fingers that had been raised in self-defense.
The Blade Runner was found sitting, slumped next to her body in the bathroom and the suspected murder weapon was found at the scene, a gun believed to be owned by Pistorius.
The Beeld also reported that the thirty-year-old model and law graduate was slain just two hours after police had been called earlier in the evening to the Pistorius home because of a noisy fight. It was not the first time disturbances had been heard at the house.
First reports said that Pistorius had been shooting at an intruder, but police has disputed that defense. Pistorius lives in an up-scale, highly secured, gated community in Pretoria, South Africa. There have been reports that back in 2009, the Blade Runner was jailed overnight after allegedly assaulting a young woman at a party.
The day before the Valentine’s Day murder, Steenkamp had tweeted Pistorius: “What do you have up your sleeve for your love tomorrow??? #getexcited #ValentinesDay.”
The Golden Boy of South Africa, as he was known for his spectacular athletic ability, despite having had both legs amputated below the knee when he was 11months old after being born without lower leg bones, was one of the country’s most admired heroes, held up as model of what grit and determination can accomplish. Pistorius had always played sports as a child and a teenager, switching to running after fracturing his knee while playing rugby.
In the 2012 London Olympics he became the first double amputee to run and reached the 400-meters semi-finals.
The country is still reeling that the Olympian and six-time Paralympic gold medalist was charged by prosecutors with premeditated murder, and the court, inside and out, was packed with spectators and media.
Following Pistorius’ courtroom appearance, his family released a statement denying the charges: “The alleged murder is disputed in the strongest terms.”
[He] “has made it very clear that he would like to send his deepest sympathies to the family of Reeva. Our thoughts and prayers today should be for Reeva and her family.”
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