The News Courier in Athens, Alabama

Sports

February 15, 2013

Weeping Pistorius faces life in prison in shooting

— PRETORIA, South Africa (AP) — Olympic athlete Oscar Pistorius wept in court Friday as prosecutors said they'll pursue a charge of premeditated murder against him in the killing of his model girlfriend, meaning the man who once inspired the world could spend the rest of his life in prison.

Pistorius' family and London-based management issued a statement disputing the murder charge he now faces for the slaying of Reeva Steenkamp. The athlete himself initially appeared solemn and collected in his first court appearance, but later sobbed loud enough for his cries to be heard over the more than 100 spectators gathered for the hearing.

His tears even drew the attention of Chief Magistrate Desmond Nasir, who at one point simply said: "Take it easy."

The double-amputee athlete's arrest stunned South Africa, which awoke the morning of Valentine's Day to hear that Steenkamp had been shot to death at Pistorius' home in a gated community in an eastern suburb of South Africa's capital, Pretoria. Police said investigators recovered a 9 mm pistol from the home.

In Pretoria Magistrate's Court on Friday, throngs of photographers, videographers and journalists besieged the brick-walled Courtroom C, where Pistorius appeared. Nasir's first ruling in the matter focused on the press: He dismissed requests from a private television station and the state broadcaster to air the hearing live.

Nasir also ordered that no photographs be taken while court was in session. That left kneeling photographers less than a meter (three feet) from Pistorius to simply stare at a man some previously photographed sprinting on his famous carbon-fiber blades as he cried uncontrollably. Pistorius' brother, Carl, and his father, Henke, reached out at separate times to comfort him as he sat in the dock.

Prosecutor Gerrie Nel said in court he would pursue a charge of premeditated murder against Pistorius for allegedly killing Steenkamp, a 29-year-old model known for her vamping, bikini pictures in men's magazines and appearances in cosmetics commercials. Police have said Steenkamp is 30. The discrepancy has not been explained.

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