You choose, we deliver
If you are interested in this story, you might be interested in others from The Journal Gazette. Go to www.journalgazette.net/newsletter and pick the subjects you care most about. We'll deliver your customized daily news report at 3 a.m. Fort Wayne time, right to your email.

World

  • Mom of Canada suspect: I cry for victims, not son
    The mother of the man accused of killing a soldier at Ottawa's war memorial then storming Parliament before being shot dead says she is crying for the victims of the shooting, not her son.
  • Airstrikes target oil filed in eastern Syria
     BEIRUT – Activists say the U.S.-led coalition has launched airstrikes on an oil field in Syria’s eastern province of Deir el-Zour that borders Iraq.
  • India picks up pace on economic overhaul
      NEW DELHI – After months of criticism for not moving aggressively enough on promises of an economic overhaul, India’s new prime minister has announced a string of policies designed to kick-start Asia’s third-
Advertisement
Associated Press
The car carrying Oscar Pistorius is surrounded after leaving the courthouse Monday after the first day of his trial in Pretoria, South Africa.

Neighbor tells of screaming

But was it Pistorius or victim?

– “Bang ... bang, bang, bang.”

The murder trial of Oscar Pistorius opened Monday in South Africa with testimony from a neighbor who described the sound of what she said were four gunshots and recalled the “blood-curdling screams” of a woman who prosecutors say was the girlfriend slain by the onetime star athlete in his home.

“It’s the most helpless feeling I’ve ever had in my life,” university lecturer Michelle Burger said of listening to the screams. “I knew something terrible was happening in that house.”

The 27-year-old double-amputee runner shot model and television personality Reeva Steenkamp in the pre-dawn hours of Valentine’s Day last year.

Prosecutors allege that Pistorius, who has been free on bail, shot Steenkamp, 29, after an argument. He has said he killed her after mistaking her for a nighttime intruder in his home, shooting her through the closed door of the toilet cubicle in his bathroom.

Early testimony focused on whether the screams that Burger said she heard were those of a terrified woman about to be shot to death, as prosecutors allege, or were instead Pistorius’ desperate shrieks for help after a fatal mistake, as his defense lawyers contend.

Burger, who lives about 200 yards from Pistorius’ house, gave her account of the sequence of events.

“I was woken up by a woman’s petrified screams. I heard her screaming first,” Burger said. “Then I heard her call for help. Then I heard a man call for help three times. I then made a call. ... I gave the phone to my husband, and he spoke to security. Afterward, I heard the woman’s petrified screams again.”

Burger said she then heard four gunshots, with a gap between the first shot and the rest, and more screaming.

“I heard her voice during the shots,” she said. “Shortly after the shots was the last time I heard that woman.”

The chief defense lawyer, Barry Roux, opened his cross-examination by asking Burger whether she thought Pistorius was a liar. She didn’t directly answer that, but questioned Pistorius’ version.

“I can only tell the court what I heard,” Burger said. “I cannot understand how I could clearly hear a woman scream but Mr. Pistorius could not hear it.”

Advertisement