PRETORIA, South Africa (AP) — Oscar Pistorius held his head in his hands and wept openly in court Friday as prosecutors said they would pursue a charge of premeditated murder against the Paralympic superstar.
Pistorius was formally charged at Pretoria Magistrate’s Court with one count of murder after his girlfriend, Reeva Steenkamp, a model and budding reality TV show participant, was shot multiple times and killed at Pistorius’ upmarket home in the predawn hours of Thursday.
Prosecutor Gerrie Nel said Friday in court it was premeditated murder, indicating the prosecution would file that more serious charge, upgraded from murder.
The double-amputee athlete’s arrest and murder charge had already left South Africa stunned after the blonde-haired model’s shooting death at Pistorius’ house in a gated community in an eastern suburb of the South African capital, Pretoria.
Those who knew Pistorius, including a former girlfriend, weight in on social media.
Trish Taylor, mother of Pistorius’ ex-girlfriend Samantha Taylor, wrote on Facebook: “I’m so glad Sammy is safe and out of the clutches of that man.”
But another ex-girlfriend, Jenna Edkins, defended the accused man Tuesday on Twitter.
“All I am saying is let him speak, let his side be heard without jumping to conclusions,” tweeted Jenna Edkins, an attractive, young blonde like all Pistorius’ girlfriends. She offered “love and support” to the Pistorius family and tweeted: “I have dated Oscar on and off for 5 YEARS, NOT ONCE has he EVER lifted a finger to me or made me fear for my life.”
Prosecutors said Friday that they would argue the history-making Olympic athlete — the first amputee to run at the games — had planned Steenkamp’s killing. It sent South Africans reeling further as their national hero and a global role model for people in overcoming adversity was set to face accusations that he intentionally gunned down his girlfriend.
South Africa’s tabloid Citizen newspaper had the headline “Blade gunner?” Friday morning, playing on double-amputee athlete Pistorius’ well-known nickname of “Blade Runner” because of his carbon fiber running blades.