PRETORIA, South Africa (AP) — The first witness in the Oscar Pistorius murder trial testified Monday to hearing a woman's "blood-curdling" screams before the sound of four gunshots on the night the double-amputee Olympian killed his girlfriend.
Michell Burger, a woman who lives on an estate next to Pistorius' gated community, said she and her husband were awoken by the screams in the pre-dawn hours of Feb. 14 last year, when Pistorius killed Reeva Steenkamp by shooting four times through a door in his bathroom.
Pistorius says he killed Steenkamp by mistake thinking she was a dangerous intruder in his house, but prosecutors believe the world-famous athlete shot his girlfriend after a fight and immediately tried to paint a picture at the trial of a loud argument before the fatal shots.
Burger's testimony contradicts Pistorius' version of events, because he said he thought Steenkamp was in bed and he did not describe any woman screaming.
"It was very traumatic," Burger said, speaking in Afrikaans through an interpreter and in answer to questions from lead prosecutor Gerrie Nel. "You could hear it was blood-curdling screams. You can't translate it into words. The anxiousness in her voice, and fear. It leaves you cold."
Burger said: "She screamed terribly and she yelled for help" and testified that she also heard a man shout for help before the shots were fired.
Pistorius' lawyer, Barry Roux, opened his cross-examination by asking Burger if she thought Pistorius was a liar. She didn't directly answer that with a yes or no, but repeated her recollection of the night's events.
"I can only tell the court what I heard that evening," Burger said. "I cannot understand how I could clearly hear a woman scream but Mr. Pistorius could not hear it."