PRETORIA, South Africa (CNN) — Johan Stander says he never wants to experience again what he experienced the night Oscar Pistorius killed his girlfriend.
Pistorius, he said, was “praying, crying, torn apart…. It’s difficult really to describe.
“And his commitment to save the young lady’s life — when he put his finger in the young lady’s mouth… how he begged her to stay alive…. I saw the truth that morning. I saw it. And I feel it.”
Stander was the manager of the Silver Woods Estate where Pistorius lived and the first person the athlete called after he shot Steenkamp.
He was the first witness the defense called when Pistorius’ murder trial resumed Monday after a break of more than two week.
Pistorius, 27, admits that he shot and killed his cover model girlfriend Reeva Steenkamp, but denies murder — claiming he thought she was an intruder in his house in the middle of the night.
The gripping trial has seen Pistorius break down repeatedly, crying, wailing and sometimes throwing up as the court sees and hears about Steenkamp’s death.
Evidence has included graphic photos of the wounds, testimony from neighbors, friends, police and pathologists, and the actual door through which Pistorius fired four hollow-tipped bullets on the fateful night.
Prosecutor Gerrie Nel aims to prove that Pistorius intentionally shot and killed Steenkamp after a heated argument in the early hours of Valentine’s Day last year.
The defense team is seeking to cast doubt on that account.
The trial is scheduled to continue until the middle of May. Judge Thokozile Masipa will decide the verdict in collaboration with two experts called assessors. South Africa does not have jury trials.
If Pistorius is found guilty of premeditated murder, he faces 25 years to life in prison.
The trial has gripped South Africa and sports fans worldwide who considered Pistorius a symbol of triumph over physical adversity.
His disabled lower legs were amputated when he was a baby, but he went on to achieve global fame as the “Blade Runner,” winning numerous Paralympic gold medals on the carbon-fiber blades fitted to his prostheses. He also competed against able-bodied runners at the Olympics.
Only those in the courtroom saw Pistorius on the stand, because he chose not to testify on camera. His testimony could be heard in an audio feed.