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Oscar Pistorius Murder Trial to Start in March

Paralympian Oscar Pistorius
Oscar Pistorius, South African paralympic sprinter, appears at the Magistrate Court for the first time since being freed on bail in February over the Valentine's Day killing of his model girlfriend in Pretoria on June 4, 2013. Photographer: Alexander Joe/AFP/Getty Images

Oscar Pistorius, the Paralympian gold medalist, was indicted today for murder and possession of ammunition after the shooting death of his girlfriend Reeva Steenkamp and was told his trial will start in March.

A judge in the North Gauteng High Court will hear the case from March 3 to March 20, Gerrie Nel, the prosecutor, said in Pretoria, the capital. There are 107 witnesses to be called during the trial, including Steenkamp’s friends Gina and Kim Myers. South African criminal cases are heard by judges.

The track star, dressed in a charcoal suit and light blue shirt, was mostly composed as he prayed with family members and discussed his case for an hour before the start of the hearing, his first time in court since June. Steenkamp would have turned 30 today.

“Today should have been a celebration of her life, instead we mark it with a court appearance,” Ian Levitt, a lawyer for the Myers family, told reporters after the hearing. Gina is listed as a witness for the trial.

“Always with you my Alfi @reevasteenkamp miss you infinitely,” Myers, who sat a few feet behind Pistorius, posted on her Twitter Inc. account.

Pistorius has been free on 1 million rand ($98,000) bail since February after prosecutors charged him with premeditated murder for the shooting of Steenkamp on Feb. 14, Valentine’s Day. The runner says he thought the model and reality television star was an intruder at his Pretoria home.

Toilet Cubicle

The 26-year-old athlete “did unlawfully and intentionally kill a person” and illegally had .38 caliber ammunition without the appropriate permit or licenses, according to the indictment issued today in Pretoria.

Steenkamp, then 29 years old, locked herself in a toilet cubicle and Pistorius, armed with a 9mm pistol, fired four shots at her through the locked door, according to the indictment. The cause of death was given as multiple gunshot wounds.

“Some of the state witnesses heard a woman scream, followed by moments of silence, then heard gunshots and then more screaming,” the indictment said. “The accused said to witnesses on the scene, that he thought she was an intruder. Even then, the accused shot with the direct intention to kill a person.”

Travel Restrictions

The court returned Pistorius’ passport and eased travel restrictions after his lawyers argued that he wanted to resume training and compete. Pistorius planned to restart his training on June 28, according to a statement posted on his website.

Known as Blade Runner for the prosthetics he wore to race, Pistorius was the first amputee runner to compete in an Olympic Games in 2012 in London. Time magazine named him one of the 100 most influential people in the world and he won six Paralympic gold medals. He was born without fibulas and had both legs amputated below the knee at 11 months old.

Since his arrest, sponsors including Nike Inc., the world’s largest sporting-goods company, and Luxottica Group SpA’s Oakley have ended deals with Pistorius.

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