New York Times
PRETORIA, South Africa - Tearful, tremulous and speaking so softly that he was nearly inaudible at times, Paralympic athlete Oscar Pistorius took the stand in his murder trial Monday, maintaining that he shot and killed his girlfriend, Reeva Steenkamp, last year because of a tragic mistake.
He began with an apology to Steenkamp's relatives, who sat grim and stone-faced in the courtroom here.
"There hasn't been a moment since this tragedy happened that I haven't thought about your family," Pistorius said, his voice shaking. After pausing to maintain his composure, he went on: "I can't imagine the pain and the sorrow and the loss I caused your family."
Pistorius, 27, has said he shot Steenkamp four times through a locked bathroom door in his house early Feb. 14, 2013, because he believed that she was still in bed and that an intruder had broken in. He has yet to testify about exactly what happened - that account should come when he takes the stand again today.
Pistorius faces 25 years in prison if convicted of the most serious of the charges he faces, premeditated murder.
Through his questioning, Pistorius' defense lawyer, Barry Roux, laid the groundwork for what is likely to be his case over the next few weeks. He established, for instance, that Pistorius had often been affected by violent attacks, with family members and friends suffering multiple break-ins and carjackings.
All of those things are meant to speak to Pistorius' outlook: constantly mindful of crime, worried about intruders, ready to go on the offensive at a sign of a threat.