Nightly News   |  February 19, 2013

Pistorius, accused of premeditated murder, shares his story

The Olympic superstar appeared in a South African court Tuesday where he explained that he had accidentally shot his girlfriend, Reeva Steenkamp, because he mistakenly suspected she was an intruder. Prosecutors, however, aren’t buying it. NBC’s Michelle Kosinski reports.

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This content comes from Closed Captioning that was broadcast along with this program.

>>> oscar pistorius was back in court today. and for the first time, we heard his side of the story, what he says really happened inside his home the night his girlfriend was killed on valentine's day of last week. it was all part of a very emotional day in which the defense and prosecution laid out their cases. nbc's michelle kosinski was inside the courtroom.

>> reporter: oscar pistorius faced the court, the world's cameras, and told his side of the story. in a statement read by his lawyer, he claimed he acted in self-defense against a suspected intruder. he said he woke up in the middle of the night , brought a fan in from his balcony, returning to the bedroom, he said, i heard a noise in the bathroom and realized someone was in the bathroom. i felt a sense of terror rushing over me. as i did not have my prosthetic legs on and felt extremely vulnerable, i knew i had to protect reeva and myself. i grabbed my .9-millimeter pistol from underneath my bed, screamed words to the effect for him -- them -- to get out of my house. it was pitch dark and i thought reeva was in bed. prosecutors say he fired four times, three of them into the small locked bathroom seen here in a photo from a real estate website. those shots struck reeva as she sat inside. only then pistorius says did he realize his girlfriend was not in bed. he broke through the bathroom door, tried to save her, called a friend, then paramedics, he said, but she died in my arms. prosecutors made it clear they don't buy it. why would a burglar lock himself into a toilet? they said reeva locked that door for a purpose. arguing even if he did think it was an intruder, this would still be premeditated murder of a defenseless burglar. they said pistorius armed himself that morning, put on his artificial legs, walked 23 feet down a hallway to the bathroom and fired. lawyers for pistorius insist there was no motive for murder, no premeditation, and read statements from friends who described the two as deeply in love. steenkamp's best friend said steenkamp would have married pistorius if he had asked. at the same time as all this today, steenkamp's funeral.

>> reeva.

>> reporter: a promising young life ended by a terrible accident or premeditated murder ? michelle kosinski , nbc news, pretoria, south africa .