PRETORIA, South Africa — Oscar Pistorius shook slightly, his hands covering his ears as a neighbor described in court Thursday how the famous athlete knelt next to his dead or dying girlfriend, praying as he tried to help Reeva Steenkamp breathe.
The testimony in high court in Pistorius’ murder trial was riveting and was the first detailed public description of the immediate aftermath of the shooting of Steenkamp, a 29-year-old model, by the double-amputee Paralympic champion in the pre-dawn hours of Feb. 14 — Valentine’s Day — last year.
“It was obvious that she was mortally wounded,” said Johan Stipp, a radiologist, as he described what he saw at Pistorius’ villa. Stipp said he was one of the first there.
“At the bottom of the stairs … there was a lady lying on her back on the floor,” Stipp testified.
Sitting on a courtroom bench on Thursday, Pistorius bent forward and put his hand over his face, then moved them to cover both ears. He stayed that way for a while, even when one of his lawyers reached back to reassure him and touch him on the head.
“I went near her and as I bent down, I also noticed a man on the left kneeling by her side,” Stipp said under questioning by prosecutor Gerrie Nel. “He had his left hand on her right groin, and his right hand, the second and third fingers in her mouth. I remember the first thing he said when I got there was ‘I shot her. I thought she was a burglar. I shot her.”
Stipp, who said he didn’t know that man was Pistorius until later, said he tried to help, but that he knew it was probably no good because Steenkamp showed no signs of life. Stipp said he noticed a wound in her right thigh, in her upper arm and in the right side of the head, and there was brain tissue around the skull.
Pistorius is charged with shooting Steenkamp three times out of four shots through a toilet door in his home. Prosecutors said the athlete intentionally killed Steenkamp after an argument but Pistorius says it was a mistake.
“She had no pulse in the neck, she had no peripheral pulse. She had no breathing movements that she made,” Stipp said. “Oscar was crying all the time,” he said. “He was praying to God, ‘Please let her live.’”
Oscar said he would dedicate “his life and her life to God” if she would live and not die that night, according to Stipp.
Pistorius, who ran at the 2012 Olympics on his prosthetic legs and who was known as the Blade Runner, is charged with murder with premeditation.
Pistorius’ lead defense lawyer started the fourth day of the trial by cross-examining another neighbor and questioning whether the man heard a woman screaming and then gunshots on the night Steenkamp died.
The neighbor, Charl Johnson, said he also owned a gun, a 9mm pistol, and knew what gunfire sounded like.
“I can confidently say I heard gunshots,” Johnson insisted on cross-examination by Barry Roux. Later, Johnson said: “I’m convinced that I heard a lady’s voice.”
Roux says the banging sounds were actually Pistorius hitting a toilet door with a cricket bat and the screaming was the distressed athlete calling for help — and there were no sounds from Steenkamp who had been shot in the head.
Johnson said he “disputed” some of what Roux was saying and described in more detail what he heard on the night Pistorius shot his girlfriend to death. Johnson and his wife live around 177 meters from Pistorius’ villa.
“The fear … in the lady person’s calls contrasted with a very monotone male voice,” Johnson testified. “The man almost sounded embarrassed to be calling for help.”
Johnson also said the timing of the bangs didn’t match a repeated bat swing. He said it would have taken Pistorius more time to swing the bat repeatedly, and that the bangs he heard were closer together.
Roux did get Johnson to concede that he never heard what he thought was the woman’s voice and the man’s voice at the same time. Roux wants to show that it was the same person, Pistorius, screaming.
The sequence of events soon after 3 a.m. on the morning of Feb. 14 last year is a critical aspect of the case. Prosecutors say there was a loud argument between Pistorius and Steenkamp before the shooting. Pistorius says there was no argument and that he had thought Steenkamp, a 29-year-old model, was in bed when he fired through the locked toilet stall door.
DARTMOUTH, Mass. (AP) A Massachusetts sheriff is seeking a criminal complaint against former NFL star Aaron Hernandez after a recent jail scuffle with another inmate.
Bristol County Sheriff Thomas Hodgson told Boston’s WHDH-TV Thursday the paperwork has been filed in district court. A clerk magistrate will review it.
Hodgson said last week neither inmate required medical attention after the Feb. 25 fight in the Bristol House of Correction. Hernandez is held there without bail after pleading not guilty to murder in the 2013 death of 27-year-old Odin Lloyd, a Boston man dating Hernandez’s fiancee’s sister.
Bristol County district attorney’s spokesman Gregg Miliote said his office was aware a complaint was filed against the former New England Patriots tight end by the sheriff’s department, but had no further comment.
Hodgson’s spokesman and Hernandez’s attorney didn’t return messages Thursday night.
DETROIT (AP) Nicklas Lidstrom was the last person to speak at his Detroit Red Wings jersey-retirement ceremony.
He might have spoken the least while perhaps saying the most, fittingly for a player who was subtly spectacular on the ice.
Lidstrom was honored Thursday night before Detroit hosted the Colorado Avalanche. A red banner – with his last name and number in white – was raised to the rafters.
“It’s not like winning a trophy for a successful season or playoff; it’s not winning an individual trophy,” he said on a puck-shaped podium. “This is something different. This is all about being a Detroit Red Wing.”
The storied franchise previously retired six jerseys: Gordie Howe’s No. 9, Steve Yzerman’s No. 19, Ted Lindsay’s No. 7, Terry Sawchuk’s No. 1, Alex Delvecchio’s No. 10 and Sid Abel’s No. 12. But Lidstrom is the first defenseman to have his jersey retired by the Red Wings.
Detroit drafted the Swede in the third round and between 1991 and 2012 he played in the most games (1,564) by someone who was on only one NHL team.
“For the first couple of years, he didn’t seem that great, but then you began to appreciate him,” Delvecchio said.
Lidstrom, with sound positioning and a strong shot, helped the Red Wings win four of their 11 Stanley Cups between 1997 and 2008. He won seven Norris Trophies as the NHL’s best defenseman and trailed only Bobby Orr’s record total of eight.
“As much as we didn’t like him when we were playing against each other, I had tons of respect for him,” Colorado coach and former NHL goaltending great Patrick Roy said.
Lidstrom became the first European-born captain to win a Stanley Cup in 2008, six years after being the first from Europe to win the Conn Smythe Trophy as the league’s postseason MVP. With his signature slap shot, he scored the gold-medal winning goal for Sweden against Finland at the 2006 Olympics.
In a video tribute shown during a first-period timeout, Yzerman said Lidstrom was one of the game’s all-time greats.
“You made our jobs so much easier,” Yzerman said.
Lidstrom retired after the 2011-12 season – his 20th with the Red Wings. He refused to settle for being merely a good defenseman in the league and turned down a chance to make about $6 million with a third straight one-year contract.
“No regrets, but that doesn’t mean I don’t miss it,” he said. “I miss playing, but I never had any urge to get back to being on the ice and playing in a game.”
With his wife and their four hockey-playing boys, he is living back home in Sweden and enjoying a simple life.
“What’s been so relaxing about it is that I get weekends off,” Lidstrom said. “I never had any weekends off that I can remember since I was a teenager.”
When Lidstrom was 21 and going into his first NHL season, he was asked what number he wanted to wear if he made the team.
Not knowing much about the Red Wings other than Yzerman being their captain, Lidstrom asked for No. 9 – a number that had been retired for nearly 20 years to honor Howe.
“Kid, that just ain’t going to happen,” Lidstrom recalled being told.
Lidstrom was later given a winged-wheel jersey with another single digit.
“No. 5 was handed to me,” he said with a grin.
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