By JON GAMBRELL and GERALD IMRAY
PRETORIA, South Africa (AP) – Looking grim and solemn, Olympian Oscar Pistorius was charged Tuesday with the premeditated murder of his model girlfriend on Valentine’s Day.
Prosecutor Gerrie Nel told the court that Pistorius shot 29-year-old Reeva Steenkamp four times through the bathroom door of his home in a guarded and gated complex in the South African capital, Pretoria. Nel said the door had been broken open.
The family of the 26-year-old double-amputee who last year became the first disabled person to compete in the Olympics says police evidence will show there should be no murder charge.
The charge was made as Steenkamp’s body was being driven to a church for a memorial service in the south-coast city of Port Elizabeth. The family said members have gathered from around the world.
June Steenkamp, the model’s mother, said the family wants answers.
“Why? Why my little girl? Why did this happen? Why did he do this?” she said in a front-page interview published Monday in The Times newspaper.
Pistorius, in a gray suit and tie appeared in court. He nodded after the chief magistrate asked if he was well. And he nodded his appreciation when his brother, Carl, pressed his shoulder in support.
The bail hearing will be the first opportunity for the prosecution to describe evidence police gathered against the runner and the reasons why he was charged with murder.
Pistorius’ family denies he committed murder though they have not addressed whether he shot her. When word first emerged about the killing there was speculation in the local media that Steenkamp had been mistaken for an intruder in Pistorius’ home. Police have said that was not something they were considering.
In an email to The Associated Press on Monday, Pistorius’ longtime track coach – who was yet to comment – said
he believes the killing was an accident.
“I pray that we can all, in time, come through this challenging situation following the accident and I am looking
forward to the day I can get my boy back on the track,” Ampie Louw wrote in his statement. “I am still in shock following the heart-breaking events that occurred last week and my thoughts and prayers are with both of the families involved.”
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