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Oscar Pistorius takes the stand: Top 5 moments

NEED TO KNOW
  • The double-amputee sprinter speaks directly to Reeva Steenkamp's family as he testified in his own defense Monday
  • Pistorius says he shot his girlfriend after mistaking her for an intruder
Oscar Pistorius takes the stand: Top 5 moments

Listen: Emotional Pistorius apologizes on the stand

South African Paralympic track star Oscar Pistorius attends his trial in Court in Pretoria on April 7, 2014. As the defence opens its case, the 27-year-old Paralympian will give the court his first account of why he shot dead his model girlfriend Reeva Steenkamp in the early hours of Valentine's Day in 2013.

Crime scene photos: The Oscar Pistorius trial

Crime scene photos: The Oscar Pistorius trial

Oscar Pistorius was emotional at times when he took the stand Monday and apologized to the friends and family of Reeva Steenkamp, the girlfriend he fatally shot on Valentine's Day 2013.

The double-amputee Olympic sprinter has pleaded not guilty to premeditated murder and says he shot Steenkamp after mistaking her for an intruder. Prosecutors say he intentionally pulled the trigger following a heated argument.

Here are the top five moments from his testimony Monday (his is expected to be back on the stand Tuesday morning):

An apology: Pistorius started with a direct message to Steenkamp’s family and friends: "I wake up every morning and you're the first people I think of, the first people I pray for," he told them. "I can't imagine the pain and the sorrow and the emptiness I have caused you and your family. I was simply trying to protect Reeva. I promise that when she went to bed that night, she felt loved."

Nightmares and sleeping problems: "I have terrible nightmares about things that happened that night where I wake up and I smell, I can smell... I can smell blood and I wake up to being terrified." Pistorius said he has been prescribed an anti-depressant and a sleep aid.

The victim of many crimes: Pistorius tried to show how vulnerable he is to intruders by describing the many crimes that affected him and his family. He described a time when they were on vacation and his father’s house was “ransacked.” The sofas and mattresses were torn open: “What wasn’t taken was destroyed.” He also said his own home was burglarized and that he was followed many times and even had someone shoot at him on the highway.

A change in behavior: Pistorius was in an induced coma following a boating accident that also badly damaged his face. “I think I was just a lot more vigilant about losing my life after that. I became a bit fearful. I became quite withdrawn,” he said.

A couple that prayed together: “When I met Reeva, I think it was just a blessing,” Pistorius said. “I’ve always wanted to have a partner that was a Christian. She was a very strong Christian.” He also said Steenkamp would pray for him and that the two would pray together before meals.

Here are the highlights from the seventeenth day of the trial as played out in short Instagram videos:

Pistorius arrives at the courthouse Monday, day 17 of his murder trial (and the first day of his defense's case):

Pistorius takes the stand and begins with an apology to Steenkamp's family and friends:

"I was simply trying to protect Reeva. I promise that when she went to bed that night, she felt loved," said Pistorius.

Pistorius said he's scared to go to sleep because he has terrible nightmares: "I wake up and I can smell... I can smell blood."

Pistorius said he was prescribed an anti-depressant and a sleep aid.

His mother had a lot of security concerns because his father wasn't around, according to Pistorius. He said she had a pistol.

"[My mom] would often get scared at night... we didn't stay in the best of suburbs," said Pistorius. He said his home was broken into on a couple of occasions.

Pistorius started to value his life more after having a serious boating accident. He said he became more vigilant, fearful and withdrawn.

Pistorius said he's been exposed to house break-ins and carjackings. He describes how someone "ransacked" his father's house while they were on vacation.

Pistorius also said he was the victim of several crimes: His house was broken into in 2005 while he was away, a man he saw lurking his garden kicked his dog, a car sped up on the highway to catch him (and then someone inside shot at him) and he was hit in the head at a party.

Pistorius said he was "bowled over" by Steenkamp and was thinking about buying a house where they could both live together.

On meeting Steenkamp: "I've always wanted to have a partner that was a Christian." He called Steenkamp a "blessing" and a "strong Christian."

Steenkamp would pray for Pistorius, according to him, and they would pray together before dinner.

Pistorius said he's very tired and that he didn't sleep last night.

"The weight of this is extremely overbearing. It's a lot to think about," Pistorius said. With that, the defense asks the judge to adjourn court a little early.

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