Update: Pistorius prosecutor backs off testosterone claim

Olympian Oscar Pistorius is accused of premeditated murder after the death of his girlfriend, Reeva Steenkamp, on Valentine's Day.

PRETORIA, South Africa — The substance found in Oscar Pistorius' bedroom is not confirmed as testosterone, said a state prosecutor spokesman who claimed there was an error in a detective's testimony during the star athlete's bail hearing Wednesday on murder charges in the shooting death of his girlfriend, Reeva Steenkamp.

Medupe Simasiku, a spokesman for South Africa's National Prosecution Agency, said it is too early to identify the substance as it is still undergoing laboratory tests.

Detective Warrant Officer Hilton Botha, the investigating officer, said earlier Wednesday in court that police found two boxes of testosterone and needles in the bedroom of the Olympic athlete.

Simasiku said it is "not certain" what the substance is.

Pistorius' defense lawyer, Barry Roux, said the substance found was not a steroid or a banned substance but an herbal remedy.

If it is confirmed as testosterone, the discovery raises the possibility that the double-amputee Olympian and Paralympian might have been using performance-enhancing substances.

Prosecutor Gerrie Nel said police are not saying that Pistorius used the substance, simply that it was found in his bedroom.

Pistorius became the first Paralympian runner to compete at the Olympic Games in London last year.

Pistorius, 26, has insisted he shot the 29-year-old Steenkamp by mistake, fearing there was an intruder in his gated and guarded luxury complex in the capital, Pretoria.

Botha told Wednesday's hearing that Pistorius illegally possessed .38-caliber ammunition in a safe in his bedroom. The policeman testified that Pistorius did not have a license for a .38-caliber weapon and consequently possession of that ammunition was illegal.

The detective said that all Pistorius would say after the shooting was "he thought it was a burglar."

Pistorius said in an affidavit read by his senior defense lawyer Tuesday that the Valentine's Day killing of Steenkamp was accidental and that he shot her by mistake in fear of an intruder in his house. He said he kept a 9mm pistol under his bed and was worried about violent home robberies and had also received death threats. South Africa's society is distressed by high levels of violent crime.

Prosecutor Gerrie Nel told the court on the first day of the hearing that he would elaborate on the state's version that the 29-year-old Steenkamp and the world's most famous Paralympic athlete had a fight the night of her death and that she fled to the toilet before Pistorius shot four times into the locked door of the toilet enclosed in his bathroom, hitting her three times and killing her.

Since Pistorius has been charged with premeditated murder, the magistrate said his defense must offer "exceptional" reasons for him to be freed on bail.

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Pistorius again arrived before 7 a.m. local time Wednesday, via a different entrance to the courthouse than was used before his first appearance at his bail hearing. Television cameras huddled to get a shot of the Olympic runner in the back seat of the white-and-blue police car.

Reporters lined up hours before the hearing to get seats in the courtroom, and police planned to shut down some roads around the busy court building.

People walking by carried newspapers with bold headlines about Pistorius' court affidavit, which was the first time he had publicly explained his version of the events that unfolded in the early hours of last Thursday morning at his villa in a gated community.

Steenkamp's shooting death and Pistorius' arrest and murder charge stunned South Africa, where he is a national hero. It also sent shock waves across the world, which knows Pistorius as a disabled sports icon known as the Blade Runner and an inspiring story of someone who overcame adversity and the amputation of his lower legs as a baby to become an Olympic athlete.

In the 11-page court affidavit, the Paralympic champion said he did not have his prosthetic legs on and felt "extremely vulnerable" in the predawn hours of Feb. 14 when he thought that Steenkamp was an intruder in a toilet cubicle inside his bathroom. He said he was on his stumps when he fired into the door and then realized his tragic error when he backed away to his "pitch dark" bedroom and realized the model and law graduate, whom he had been dating for a few months, was not in bed.

The state alleges the shooting was premeditated and that Pistorius took time to put on his prosthetic legs and walk seven meters to the toilet before opening fire.

Forensic reports may be able to establish the truth by studying the angle and height of the bullet holes in the toilet door.

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