Oscar Pistorius appeared in a crowded Pretoria courtroom today, barely a day after he was arrested for the murder of Reeva Steenkamp, his girlfriend of four months. Steenkamp was found early Thursday morning in a puddle of blood, with four gunshot wounds to her head, chest, pelvis, and hand. A 9mm pistol registered to Pistorius and recovered by police is believed to be the weapon.
Prosecutors indicated that they plan to seek the most serious charge again Pistorius, a charge of "premeditated murder." Though it had initially been floated that Pistorius might have mistaken Steenkamp for a robber, the decision to try him for premeditated murder—plus two new revelations from the South African media—shows police aren't buying the burglar story.
First, national broadsheet Beeld reports that police had been called to Pistorius's house two hours before the shooting, after neighbors complained of a loud argument between him and Steenkamp.
Second, multiple reports citing police sources claim that Steenkamp was shot through a bathroom door.
Police have confirmed that they've been called to Pistorius's exclusive gated community in the past for "incidents of a domestic nature," and he has something of a history of violence involving women. In 2009 he spent a night in jail after allegedly assaulting a 19-year-old woman who wouldn't leave a party at his house, though charges were later dropped. Last year, reportedly enraged by learning he had been cheated on by his then-girlfriend (not Steenkamp), he supposedly threatened to break a man's legs.
A joint statement from Pistorius's family and management team indicated that he plans to fight the murder charge against him. It reads:
"Firstly, and most importantly, all our thoughts today must be with the family and friends of Reeva Steenkamp.
"Oscar Pistorius has appeared in court here in Pretoria this morning formally charged with the murder of Reeva Steenkamp. The alleged murder is disputed in the strongest terms."
The statement added: "Oscar Pistorius has made history as an Olympic and Paralympic sportsman and has been an inspiration to others the world over.
"He has made it very clear that he would like to send his deepest sympathies to the family of Reeva.
"He would also like to express his thanks through us today for all the messages of support he has received – but as stated our thoughts and prayers today should be for Reeva and her family, regardless of the circumstances of this terrible, terrible tragedy."
Steenkamp was to speak to a group of high schoolers the day she died, in part about escaping an abusive relationship. Pistorius wept openly in court as his defense asked for a postponement—the hearing will be pushed back until Tuesday, and he will remain in jail until then.