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Witness: Pistorius prayed over girlfriend

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POSTED March 7, 2014 12:34 a.m.

PRETORIA, South Africa (AP) — As the girlfriend he shot in the head lay dead or dying in his home, a weeping, praying Oscar Pistorius knelt at her side and struggled in vain to help her breathe by holding two fingers in her clenched mouth, a witness testified Thursday at the double-amputee runner’s murder trial.

“I shot her. I thought she was a burglar. I shot her,” radiologist Johan Stipp, a neighbor, recalled Pistorius saying. The worried neighbor had entered Pistorius’ home after hearing screams. By that time, the celebrated athlete had cwarried Reeva Steenkamp’s bloodied body downstairs following the fatal nighttime shooting in his bathroom.

A few minutes after he arrived, Stipp said, Pistorius went back upstairs — the area where he had shot the 29-year-old model — and returned. At that point, Stipp said he was concerned that the gun used in the shooting had not been recovered and that a distraught Pistorius was going to harm himself. The testimony did not address what Pistorius did when he went upstairs.

Stipp’s account in a Pretoria court was the first detailed, public description of the immediate aftermath of the shooting in the pre-dawn hours of Feb. 14 last year. Pistorius is charged with premeditated murder after shooting Steenkamp three times out of four shots through the toilet door, with prosecutors trying to build a case that the Olympian intentionally killed Steenkamp after a loud argument.

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