Speed Reads

Crime and punishment

Oscar Pistorius pleads not guilty as murder trial begins

Flickr CC By: Jim Thurston

The trial of double amputee and former Olympian Oscar Pistorius began today with the "Blade Runner" pleading not guilty to the murder of his girlfriend, model Reeva Steenkamp. The case, which is transfixing South Africa, has dedicated two 24-hour television channels to the spectacle.

After the proceedings started 90 minutes late, Pistorius pleaded not guilty to the four charges against him, including murder and illegal possession of ammunition. He insists he thought Steencamp was an intruder when he shot her four times with a 9mm gun on Valentine's Day 2013. The case opened dramatically with a witness, a neighbor, telling the court she heard "bloodcurdling screams" from a woman followed by a round of gunfire.

"You can't translate it into words. The anxiousness in her voice, and fear. It leaves you cold," the witness told the court.

The trial is expected to last three weeks.