JOHANNESBURG >> Oscar Pistorius, the celebrated athlete who became a murder suspect, said Friday that he is consumed by grief on the first anniversary of the day that he fatally shot his girlfriend in his home.
The rare statement by the double-amputee runner came ahead of the March 3 start of his trial for the killing of Reeva Steenkamp, shot in her boyfriend’s bathroom in the pre-dawn hours of Valentine’s Day.
“No words can adequately capture my feelings about the devastating accident that has caused such heartache for everyone who truly loved – and continues to love Reeva,” said Pistorius, who told a court last year that he mistook Steenkamp for a dangerous nighttime intruder. Prosecutors allege the track star, who is out on bail, intentionally killed her after an argument.
“The pain and sadness — especially for Reeva’s parents, family and friends consumes me with sorrow,” Pistorius said. “The loss of Reeva and the complete trauma of that day, I will carry with me for the rest of my life.”
The statement from Pistorius, 27, was unusual because his uncle, Arnold, has normally been quoted in statements from his camp, which has sought to shield the runner from intense media and public interest in a case that transfixed many people around the world.
Steenkamp’s mother, June, plans to attend the trial in Pretoria, the capital. No members of Steenkamp’s immediate family have attended any of Pistorius’ previous court dates. Pistorius also faces other firearms-related charges.
On Wednesday, the spokeswoman for Pistorius said he reached a settlement with a woman over an alleged assault case from 2009 because his lawyers advised him he could not fight civil and criminal legal battles at the same time. He was arrested and accused of causing an injury to Cassidy Taylor-Memmory, a guest at a party at his house five years ago, after allegedly slamming a door and then punching it.
Pistorius was the first double-amputee to run at the world championships and the Olympics. He faces a possible life sentence with a minimum of 25 years in prison before the chance of parole if he is convicted of premeditated murder in Steenkamp’s killing.
A judge will deliver a verdict. There is no trial by jury in South Africa.