Oscar Pistorius becomes emotional during his trial at the high court in Pretoria April 7, 2014. His voice cracking with emotion, South African Olympic and Paralympic track star Oscar Pistorius took the witness stand in his own defense on Monday, saying the Valentine's Day shooting of his girlfriend last year had left him sleepless, terrified and plagued by nightmares. Themba Hadebe/Pool/Reuters
Oscar Pistorius testified at his murder trial on Wednesday that girlfriend Reeva Steenkamp died in his arms after he shot her in his home last year.
The double-amputee runner was testifying for a third day, returning to the witness stand after weeping and wailing a day earlier while describing the moments he said he realized he had fatally shot his girlfriend by mistake. He said he thought an intruder was in the house.
In early testimony Wednesday, Pistorius mostly kept his composure, though he often paused and his voice quavered in apparent distress while describing what he said were his desperate attempts to help the 29-year-old model after shooting her through a closed toilet door.
"Reeva had died while I was holding her," Pistorius, 27, said after describing how he put his fingers in her mouth to try to help her breathe and put his hand on her hip to try to stop bleeding from one of several gunshot wounds.
Pistorius said he felt "helpless," and that he wanted to take Steenkamp to a hospital, but a neighbour advised him to wait for paramedics to arrive. Police later appeared on the scene.
"I asked a policeman if I could wash my hands because the smell of the blood was making me throw up," Pistorius said. "Every time I saw Reeva, I got sick. So I stayed more inside the kitchen. I sat in the pantry against the washing machine."
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Pistorius was being led in questioning by chief defence lawyer Barry Roux and will later be cross-examined by prosecutor Gerrie Nel, who maintains the Olympian killed Steenkamp after an argument. Pistorius is charged with premeditated murder and could face 25 years to life in prison if convicted of that charge.
Pistorius broke down Tuesday as he recalled bashing open the toilet door through which he shot Steenkamp in the early hours of Feb. 14, 2013. He sobbed and howled in court, causing the trial to be adjourned.
Judge Thokozile Masipa alone will determine his fate, as South Africa does not have trial by jury.
Timeline: Oscar Pistorius