(Photo: Reuters/Siphiwe Sibeko)
Oscar Pistorius has been indicted in a South African court on a charge of premeditated murder, and a trial date is set for March 3, 2014. Pistorius will remain free on bail until the trial.
Before the court proceedings began, Pistorius and his family prayed together in the courtroom. There were tears from all three, which only continued as the charge was read aloud. Pistorius could face a mandatory minimum sentence of 25 years in prison; prosecutors believe that the Paralympic and Olympic star planned to shoot his girlfriend, Reeva Steenkamp, on Valentine's Day.
"The South African Police Service is hopeful that justice will prevail," a statement from the office of South Africa's national police commissioner read.
Defense experts argue that Pistorius thought Steenkamp was an intruder and fired several shots before realizing it was his girlfriend. Ballistic and forensic evidence will play a crucial role in the trial, and several South African newspapers reportedly state that evidence supports Pistorius' version of events, the BBC noted.
The court appearance happened to take place on what would have been Steenkamp's 30th birthday, and her family planned on doing something small together to remember her life.
"Since that devastating Thursday morning on 14 February, not a day has gone by when anyone who ever came into contact with Reeva Steenkamp hasn't thought about her," a statement by the family said. "The 19th of August 2013 would have been Reeva's 30th birthday, a day that should have been a celebration of her life. Instead, it will now mark a court appearance relating to her untimely passing six months ago."
"As the world's attention will once again turn to the courthouse, there are those who met, knew, and loved Reeva that will focus their attention on their hearts and memories, allowing her life, strength of character and passion to live on through them," the statement concluded.
Meanwhile, Pistorius is still training a few hours a week in order to help him "process his trauma and prepare for the trial," a statement on his own website explained.