South African sprinter Oscar Pistorius broke down in tears today after appearing in court to hear a murder charge that his family has come forward to dispute. The Olympic and Paralympic medalist was taken to a Pretoria courthouse for a bail hearing on Friday, and prosecutors announced they plan to argue that the shooting of Pistorius's girlfriend, Reeva Steenkamp, was pre-mediated. He did not speak, but was seen weeping with his face buried in his hands. The hearing was adjourned without a ruling on the bail as both sides asked for a postponement and Pistorius will remain in custody until the case resumes next Tuesday.
There have been rumors since the story broke that Pistorius, a noted gun owner and shooting enthusiast, had mistaken Steenkamp for an intruder, and that she may have even snuck into his house as a Valentine's Day surprise. However, today's hearing would seem to put that theory to rest as police say that witnesses claimed to have heard loud noises before the shooting took place, and revealed that there have been previous domestic violence calls to the house. Police say that the intruder theory did not come from them, and was not being considered as the possible explanation.
Update (7:45 a.m.): We now have the first statement from Pistorius's family. They
say he dispute in the "strongest terms" the allegation that he murdered Steenkamp. You can read the whole statement below:
Firstly, and most importantly, all our thoughts today must be with the family and friends of Reeva Steenkamp.
Oscar Pistorius has appeared in court here in Pretoria this morning formally charged with the murder of Reeva Steenkamp. The alleged murder is disputed in the strongest terms.
These are now live and active legal proceedings which must be allowed to take their course through the process of proper investigation by the police, evidence-gathering and through the local South African judicial system.
In a short hearing lawyers representing the athlete asked for a postponement for a bail application until Tuesday next week to allow time for their own investigation into the circumstances of the tragedy, which was agreed by the Magistrate, who also agreed that Pistorius would be held in custody at a local police station.
Oscar Pistorius has made history as an Olympic and Paralympic sportsman and has been an inspiration to others the world over.
He has made it very clear that he would like to send his deepest sympathies to the family of Reeva. He would also like to express his thanks through us today for all the messages of support he has received - but as stated our thoughts and prayers today should be for Reeva and her family - regardless of the circumstances of this terrible, terrible tragedy.
We will endeavour to issue other statements as matters develop but in these circumstances I am sure you appreciate it is very difficult to answer any more specific questions. Thank you very much for your attention.