PRETORIA, South Africa — As the girlfriend he shot lay dead or dying in his home, a weeping, praying Oscar Pistorius knelt at her side and struggled in vain to help her breathe by holding two fingers in her clenched mouth, a witness testified Thursday at the double-amputee runner's murder trial.
"'I shot her. I thought she was a burglar. I shot her,'" radiologist Johan Stipp recalled Pistorius saying in the minutes after the fatal shooting for which the celebrated athlete is on trial for murder.
A few minutes later, Stipp said, Pistorius went upstairs — the area where he had shot Reeva Steenkamp — and then returned. At that point, Stipp said he was concerned that the gun used in the shooting had not been recovered and that a distraught Pistorius was going to harm himself. The testimony did not address what Pistorius did when he went upstairs.
The testimony in a Pretoria court was the first detailed, public description of the immediate aftermath of the shooting of Steenkamp, a 29-year-old model, by the Olympian in the predawn hours of Feb. 14 last year.
At his bail hearing last year, Pistorius said in a statement read by lawyer Barry Roux that, after he realized he had shot Steenkamp, he pulled on his prosthetic legs and tried to kick down the toilet door before finally giving up and bashing it in with a cricket bat. Inside, he said, he found Steenkamp, slumped over but still alive. He said he lifted her bloodied body and carried her downstairs to seek medical help.
"It was obvious that she was mortally wounded," Stipp said as he described what he saw at Pistorius' villa. "At the bottom of the stairs ... there was a lady lying on her back on the floor."