Paralympic running star Oscar Pistorius said in an affidavit Tuesday in a South African court that he did not mean to kill his girlfriend, Reeva Steenkamp, but mistook her for an intruder when he fired shots through his bathroom door on Feb. 14.
"We were deeply in love and couldn’t be happier. I loved her and I know she felt the same way," he said in the statement, read by his lawyer as Pistorius stood in the packed Pretoria courtroom. "I fail to understand how I could be charged with murder, let alone premeditated murder because I had no intention to kill my girlfriend."
Pistorius, a double amputee who has been widely reported to have kept a 9 mm handgun under his bed and several other firearms in his home, said he feared an intruder had entered his home when he heard a noise in the bathroom late one night after he had already removed his prosthetic legs:
I sleep with my 9mm under my bed. I woke up to close the sliding door and heard a noise in the bathroom.
I was scared and didn’t switch on the light. I got my gun and moved towards the bathroom. I screamed at the intruder because I did not have my legs on, I felt vulnerable. I fired shots through the bathroom door and told Reeva to call police.
I walked back to the bed and realised Reeva was not in bed. It then it dawned on me it could be her in there.
Pistorius said it was only with "the benefit of hindsight I realize that Reeva went to the bathroom when I went to close the balcony door."
He also said he did not try to flee as police arrived and that he had tried to get first aid for Steenkamp:
I called paramedics and complex security. I tried to carry her down stairs for help. I tried to help her but she died in my arms. I am mortified.
Pistorius was charged with murder on Tuesday after Steenkamp was found shot to death at his home on Valentine's Day, but his legal team is expected to press for a less serious charge, the Guardian reports. If convicted, he would face a life sentence. South Africa abolished the death penalty in 1995.