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On Monday, Oscar Pistorius, the South African Paralympic athlete who shot and killed his girlfriend on Valentine’s Day 2013, took to the stand to deliver an emotional testimony during his high-profile murder trial.

Through sobs, Pistorius offered a tearful apology to the family of model Reeva Steenkamp while they looked on, stone-faced.

In a trembling voice, he said he was “trying to protect” her and said he could not imagine the family’s pain.

Mr Pistorius said he suffered “terrible nightmares” and often woke up smelling Ms Steenkamp’s blood.

The Paralympic athlete told Ms Steenkamp’s relatives that there “hasn’t been a moment since this tragedy happened that I haven’t thought about your family.”

“I wake up every morning and you’re the first people I think of, the first people I pray for. I can’t imagine the pain and the sorrow and the emptiness that I’ve caused you and your family.

“I was simply trying to protect Reeva. I can promise that when she went to bed that night she felt loved.

If you recall, Pistorius claims he mistook Steenkamp for an intruder and accidentally shot her. Prosecutors, however, believe Pistorius shot Steenkamp after an argument.

The rest of Pistorius’ testimony was dotted with stories about the difficulties of being born with parts of both legs missing and his exposure to criminal acts and robbery — both being used, no doubt, to paint a picture of a vulnerable man who has had to be vigilant most of his life.

After a recess, Mr Pistorius was asked whether he and his family had been exposed to criminal acts.

He said there had been many break-ins while he was growing up.

Mr Pistorius said on one occasion he was followed by a car into his gated community. He said he had his gun with him and the two men in the car had sped off.

On another occasion, he said he had drawn his firearm as he tried to protect a taxi driver who was being assaulted.

He did, however, mention that the incident involving Steenkamp has made him wary of guns and that he never wants to handle one again.

Towards the end of his testimony, he became emotional again as he said “my God’s a God of refuge” and his counsel, Barry Roux, asked for an adjournment. The trial will resume on Tuesday.

For more on Pistorius’ murder trial, click here.

SOURCE: BBC | VIDEO SOURCE: AP, News Inc.

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