VIDEO: Oscar Pistorius' tearful apology to Steenkamp family

Apr 7, 2014 at 12:41 p.m. ET

Olympian and accused murderer Oscar Pistorius took the stand to defend himself against accusations he killed his girlfriend Reeva Steenkamp in cold blood.

Oscar Pistorius
Photo credit: Getty Images

A tearful and soft-spoken Oscar Pistorius took the stand in his own defense today, apologizing to Reeva Steenkamp's family for her death but insisting he was trying to protect her.

"I would like to take this opportunity to apologize to Mr. and Mrs. Steenkamp, to Reeva’s family," said Pistorius, who said he's taking anti-depressants and sleeping pills. "To those of you who knew her who are in court today."

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"There hasn't been a moment since this tragedy happened that I haven't thought about your family," he said, his voice laden with emotion. "I wake up every morning, and you're the first people I think of, the first people I pray for... I was simply trying to protect Reeva. I can promise that when she went to bed that night she felt loved. I've tried to put my words on paper many, many times to write to you, but no words have ever sufficed."

The Olympian's much-anticipated testimony went on to discuss his use of anti-depressants and sleeping pills after the shooting because he can smell "all that blood" in his nightmares.

"I woke up and I was terrified and for some reason I couldn't calm myself down, so I climbed into the cupboard and got my sister to come and sit by me for a while," he told the court.

Watch Oscar Pistorius apologize to the Steenkamp family


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The Blade Runner, who had both legs amputated below the knee as a child, also described his family's "security concerns" when he was growing up — a fear which continued into his adulthood — and how they had been victims of home invasions and carjackings, as well as an assault at a party in 2012 and a 2009 boat crash that he said left him fearful, withdrawn and vigilant about personal safety.

Despite testimony on behalf of the defense stating the athlete is obsessed with guns, Pistorius also said he doesn't want to touch another firearm ever again.

Pistorius is accused of premeditated murder in the death of the South African model. The athlete maintains he mistook Steenkamp for an intruder. The beautiful blonde was shot at four times, with bullets striking her arm, hip and head.

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