PRETORIA, South Africa — In the minutes after he shot his girlfriend, Olympic athlete Oscar Pistorius wept, prayed and begged that she would survive, according to the testimony of a radiologist who was one of the first people on the scene.
Pistorius, who has pleaded not guilty to the murder of his girlfriend, Reeva Steenkamp, wept in Pretoria's High Court as Dr. Johan Stipp offered a graphic medical account of her injuries and described the South African athlete's distress at the time. Pistorius sat hunched over on the court bench and at one point covered his ears, apparently trying to block out Stipp's words.
The shooting occurred early on Valentine's Day 2013. It is not contested that Pistorius shot Steenkamp through the door of an enclosed toilet in a bathroom. He says he thought she was a burglar; prosecutors say he intended to kill her.
Stipp, whose house is behind Pistorius', said he was awakened by what he described as a woman's screams. After calling private security, he went to try to help.
Stipp said when he entered the Pistorius house, Steenkamp was lying on her back at the bottom of the stairs. The defendant was by her side, trying to open her mouth. At the time Stipp was not aware who Pistorius was.
"I went near her and as I bent down, I noticed a man on his knees. I remember the first thing he said: 'I shot her. I thought she was a burglar. I shot her,' " Stipp told the court.
He tried to save Steenkamp, but she had no pulse, was not breathing and her injuries appeared fatal.
"It was obvious that Mr. Pistorius was very, very upset," Stipp said. "He was making promises to God."
"He looked sincere to me. He was crying, there were tears on his face. He was trying to help her."