Pistorius Trial: 'Bloodcurdling Screams,' Then Shots

South Africa gears up for 'trial of the century'
By Rob Quinn,  Newser Staff
Posted Mar 3, 2014 1:02 AM CST
Updated Mar 3, 2014 7:07 AM CST
Pistorius Trial Gets Own TV Channel
People stand around a newspaper reading "Oscar's date with destiny" before Oscar Pistorius arrives at the high court in Pretoria today.   (AP Photo/Schalk van Zuydam)

The murder trial of Oscar Pistorius is under way, with the double-amputee athlete pleading not guilty in what the New York Times calls a "clear voice" to the murder charge. The trial's first witness, neighbor Michelle Burger, then testified that she awoke after 3am on Feb. 14 of last year to a woman's "bloodcurdling screams," the Guardian reports. "It was a climax. She was very scared," said Burger, who went on to say that the screams were followed by four shots, with a pause between the first and second. In other developments:

  • South Africa is so transfixed by the case that a 24-hour channel has been launched to cover it. The channel, called "The Oscar Pistorius Trial—A Carte Blanche Channel" launched last night with footage of the life of Reeva Steenkamp.
  • The network behind the trial channel is one of three broadcasters that will be allowed to cover the trial live, though the testimony of Pistorius and other defense witnesses will not be shown and the judge has the option of halting coverage if it becomes intrusive, the AP reports.

  • Pistorius faces life in prison if found guilty. He insists that he shot Steenkamp through a bathroom door after mistaking her for a burglar, and the trial is likely to hinge on ballistic evidence from his Pretoria home, the BBC reports.
  • South Africa has no trial by jury, so Pistorius' fate will be decided by Judge Thokozile Masipa, the second black woman to become a judge in South Africa. Legal experts say both the prosecution and defense are happy with Masipa as the judge because of her reputation for being unwaveringly fair, the AP finds in a look at the key players in the case.
(More Reeva Steenkamp stories.)

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