Olympic and Paralympic track star Oscar Pistorius sits in the dock in the North Gauteng High Court in Pretoria May 5, 2014.
Ihsaan Haffejee—Reuters
By Charlie Campbell
May 5, 2014

The murder trial of Oscar Pistorius resumed after a two-week break on Monday and entered a crucial phase, with the Olympian’s defense team attempting to convince Judge Thokozile Masipa that Pistorius’ fatal shooting of his girlfriend, Reeva Steenkamp, on Feb. 14, 2013, was an accident because he mistook her for an intruder.

Testimony regarding the intervals between the firing of four rounds will likely have a huge impact on the eventual outcome of the case. The defense maintains that a panic-stricken Pistorius fired in rapid succession through the toilet door, while the prosecution will seek to demonstrate that he fired slowly and mindfully, in clear control of his actions.

Defense lawyer Barry Roux has insisted from the outset that Pistorius’ actions were governed by an overriding fear of violent crime because of the high prevalence of home invasions in South Africa. Prosecutor Gerrie Nel has sought to present the Blade Runner — so called for his trademark prosthetic limbs — as a controlling, gun-totting bully.

Pistorius, 27, is charged with premeditated murder, culpable homicide, discharging firearms in public and illegal possession of ammunition. He faces 25 years to life in prison if convicted of the most serious charges. He denies any wrongdoing.

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