Pistorius' Story: 'I Heard a Noise... I Felt a Sense of Terror... I Grabbed My 9mm'

Paralympic champion and accused murderer Oscar Pistorius told a packed courtroom through a statement today that he "had no intention" of killing his girlfriend, the law student and model Reeva Steenkamp, whom he shot to death on Valentine's day—contradicting the accusations of prosecutor Gerrie Nel, who at the same hearing argued that Pistorius committed premeditated murder: putting on his prosthetic limbs, walking from the bedroom to the bathroom, and shooting Steenkamp three times through the door.

After Nel spoke, a prepared statement written by Pistorius was read to the court:

"I heard a noise in my bathroom. ... I felt a sense of terror. ... I believed that someone had entered my house. ... I grabbed my 9mm pistol," it said.

"As I did not have my prosthetic legs on I felt extremely vulnerable. I had to protect Reeva and myself. ... I had limited mobility on my stumps," it said.

Pistorius' statement said that moments after the shooting he "picked Reeva up as I'd been told not to wait for the paramedics. ... She died in my arms."

Though he kept his composure while the statement was read, Pistorius broke down in tears as Nel made the initial accusations:

Mr. Nel said Ms. Steenkamp, a model and law graduate who had just made her debut in a reality television show, had been in a tiny room measuring less than 20 square feet when the shots rang out. "She could not go anywhere," he said. "It must have been horrific."

"She locked the door for a purpose. We will get to that purpose," he said. She was struck by three of the four rounds, he said. [...]

Mr. Nel, the prosecutor, however, declared: "If I arm myself, walk a distance and murder a person, that is premeditated," he said. "The door is closed. There is no doubt. I walk seven meters and I kill." He added "The motive is ‘I want to kill.' That's it."

Premeditated murder carries a mandatory life sentence. He didn't enter a formal plea today, and the court was adjourned without a ruling on bail.

Correction: an earlier version of this post indicated that Pistorius had read his statement himself. He did not.