PRETORIA, South Africa -- Olympian Oscar Pistorius made a tearful apology to the family of his girlfriend Monday as he stood trial for fatally shooting her in the early hours of Valentine’s Day last year.
"There's not a moment and hasn't been a moment since this tragedy happened that I haven't thought about her family," he said, adding that it is the first thing that comes into his mind when he wakes up.
"I can't imagine the pain and emptiness and sorrow that I've caused your family. I was simply trying to protect Reeva. I can promise you that when she went to bed that night she felt loved," he said, his voice trembling.
Pistorius told the court he had been on anti-depressants since soon after the shooting and that he also needed medication because he couldn't sleep.
"I wake up and I smell blood and I wake up to be terrified. I wake up in a complete state of terror. I would rather not sleep," he said.
He said he wanted nothing to do with guns any more, and slept with a security guard at his door. He sometimes gets panic attacks and one night had to hide in a cupboard because he couldn't calm himself down, he told the court.
"I woke up and I was terrified and I for some reason couldn't calm myself so I climbed into the cupboard and I phoned my sister to come and sit by me, which she did," he said.
He was born without fibula bones in his legs, and his feet were amputated as a baby, but he said his mother treated him the same as his two siblings.
"If I fell, she left me to get up for myself. She didn't baby me. She treated me exactly the same as my brother and sister." He described occasionally being bullied at school.
"My family always believed in standing up for yourself and standing up for what you believe in. At the end of the day you don't come crying to your parents."
He said he once got into a fight with a boy who tore his shirt, ripping off the buttons.
"I stood up for myself and I got into a physical altercation with the other kid," he testified, saying he was called into the school headmaster's office to be punished. His mother arrived at the school and told the headmaster he shouldn't be punished for standing up for himself, he said.
"She kept her firearm just under her pillow in a padded bag," he said. Sometimes when she was afraid, he said, she would call her children into her room to be with her at night.
He said the accident and false allegations in the media that he was drunk affected him profoundly.
"I became fearful. I became quite withdrawn," he said.
"She may have been frozen with fear for a second or two," Botha said, concluding there would have been a delay of about two seconds before she began to scream -- by which time she would have been struck in the head.
"If they [the shots] were fired over four seconds, I don't think she would have had any time to scream. I think there would have been panic, confusion," he said.
"If she was in mortal fear, it's more likely she would have screamed," he said. "If there was an interval of several seconds between the shots, I think she may well have had a chance to cry out."