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Pistorius was heartbroken, says social worker

Published on NewsOK Modified: May 8, 2014 at 7:28 am •  Published: May 8, 2014

PRETORIA, South Africa (AP) — Oscar Pistorius' defense team continued Thursday to present a picture of a man who was heartbroken after he killed his girlfriend in what he says was a tragic accident.

The defense called a social worker and probation officer who visited Pistorius in a police cell a day after he fatally shot Reeva Steenkamp to testify at the double-amputee Olympian's murder trial. Social worker Yvette van Schalkwyk said she observed an emotionally devastated Pistorius last year who was grieving for his slain girlfriend and concerned for her parents.

"I saw a heartbroken man. He cried 80 percent of the time. He talked to me about what they planned for the future, his future with her," said van Schalkwyk, who told the court that she decided to testify at the trial because she was upset by suggestions reported in the media that Pistorius was feigning grief to sway the judge in his favor.

Gerrie Nel, the chief prosecutor, objected to van Schalkwyk's testimony, saying it was not relevant to the charges against Pistorius, but the judge allowed her to proceed.

The prosecution maintains Pistorius killed Steenkamp intentionally by shooting her through a toilet cubicle door in the early hours of Feb. 14, 2013 after a fight. In allowing van Schalkwyk to testify about her Feb. 15, 2013 meeting with Pistorius, Judge Thokozile Masipa noted that Nel had asked Pistorius during the runner's own testimony if he was trying to use his emotions to his advantage. Pistorius has cried and broken down sobbing on numerous occasions at the trial.

Nel said it was hardly surprising that Pistorius would be traumatized immediately after killing his girlfriend amid intense global interest in the case, and pushed van Schalkwyk to acknowledge that Pistorius never specifically said to her he was sorry he killed Steenkamp. That omission, according to Nel, supported his contention that Pistorius was feeling sorry for himself and was unwilling to take responsibility.

"It's all about him," the prosecutor said.

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