Oscar Pistorius' Sobs Bring an Early End to Court Action

Your News Companion by Ben Mathis-Lilley
April 8 2014 11:11 AM

Oscar Pistorius' Sobs Bring an Early End to Court Action

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South African Paralympic track star Oscar Pistorius reacts during his trial in court in Pretoria on April 7, 2014

Photo by Deaan Vivier/AFP/Getty Images

Oscar Pistorius took the stand for the second day on Tuesday, recounting to the court the moment he says he broke open the door to his bathroom to discover that the person he had been shooting at was his girlfriend, Reeva Steenkamp. For the second day, the testimony of the Paralympic star known as the Blade Runner was marked with sobs that made it difficult for proceedings to carry on as scheduled, via the Associated Press:

On the witness stand, [Pistorius] began to cry loudly, forcing the judge to rule a brief adjournment. Pistorius didn't stand up when the judge left, and also started to wail as he sat slumped over on the witness stand, his head in his hands. His brother and sister went over to him in an apparent attempt to comfort him, and he left the courtroom through a side door, still crying.
When Judge Thokozile Masipa returned, she called an early adjournment. Pistorius had by that time appeared to compose himself and had returned to sit, jaw clenched, in the witness box.
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The day wasn't a total wash for the court, however. Prior to the early adjournment, Pistorius removed his prosthetic legs to show the court how he says he approached the bathroom door in the moments before the shooting that took Steenkamp's life. (Pistorius claims that he felt particularly vulnerable at the time because he not wearing his prosthetics.)

The proceedings so far have been punctuated by emotional displays from Pistorius. On Monday during his first day on the stand Pistorius' voice quavered so much that the judge had to ask him to speak up. Previously, the track star vomited as graphic close-up images of Steenkamp's body were displayed briefly in court.

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Josh Voorhees is a Slate senior writer. He lives in Iowa City.