Olympian Oscar Pistorius cried in court on Monday and friends of slain model Reeva Steenkamp were "visibly distressed" as the double-amputee was indicted on a premeditated murder charge.
On the day that would have been Steenkamp's 30th birthday, Pistorius stood in the dock of the courtroom in Pretoria, South Africa, and wiped away tears.
He also held hands with his brother Carl and sister Aimee. The court later set March 3 as the trial date for Pistorius.
Dubbed “Blade Runner” because of his prosthetic legs, Pistorius will face a premeditated murder charge in relation to the fatal Valentine’s Day shooting of Steenkamp, a 29-year-old law graduate.
"I am satisfied with the provisions that my legal team have made," Pistorius said during the short hearing.
A list of more than 100 witnesses was submitted to the court. Pistorius was also indicted for illegal possession of ammunition.
Stephane de Sakutin / AFP - Getty Images
Oscar Pistorius wipes a tear from his eye at the Magistrate Court in Pretoria on Monday.
The indictment was read out in the courtroom.
"Some of the State witnesses heard a woman scream, followed by moments of silence, then heard gunshots," it said. "The deceased had locked herself into the toilet cubicle, situated adjacent to the main bedroom. The accused armed himself with his 9mm pistol and through the locked door, fired four shots at the deceased."
The Paralympic star who was born without fibulas and had both his legs amputated below the knees before he turned one-year-old, denies murder and says that he shot girlfriend Steenkamp after mistaking her for an intruder at his home.
In an affidavit previously presented at court, Pistorius said he was "deeply in love" with Steenkamp and had no reason to kill her, adding that he reached for a pistol under his bed because he felt vulnerable without his prosthetic limbs.
If found guilty of premeditated murder, Pistorius will face at least 25 years in prison.
Pistorius was also handed a lesser charge of violating provisions of the firearms control act for having 38 rounds of unlicensed ammunition at his home.
The athlete's uncle Arnold, who Pistorius has been living with since he was granted bail of 1m rand ($98,000) said the family was pleased a date had been set.
"We are thankful that a trial date has been set and that we can now start preparing for the court case," he said.
South Africa does not have trial by jury or the death penalty.
Last Monday, a South African newspaper published photographs of Pistorius on a beach during a holiday with friends. In the rare public appearance, Pistorius was wearing a white T-shirt and a life-vest as he paddled with another man in a kayak. In another photo, he is standing on the beach in shorts, his pale prosthetic legs exposed to the sunshine.
NBC News' Rohit Kachroo, Ron Allen, Michele Neubert and The Associated Press contributed to this report.
First published August 19 2013, 6:48 AM