TODAY   |  April 08, 2014

Oscar Pistorius: ‘I was just overcome with fear’

Testifying in his own murder trial for the first time, the athlete opened up about the shooting of his late girlfriend and their sometimes stormy relationship. NBC’s national investigative correspondent, Jeff Rossen, reports.

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This content comes from Closed Captioning that was broadcast along with this program.

>> going to get to today's top story. it is the dramatic testimony we're getting from oscar pistorius this morning. the olympic sprinter is testifying for a second straight day. for the first time in open court talking about what led up to that shooting. today, jeff rossen is at the courthouse in pretoria. jeff, good morning.

>> reporter: hey, savannah, good morning to you. this is literally happening as we speak. just moments ago, for the first time, oscar pistorius explaining to the court what happened in his version the night of the shooting. let me take you through it and then you'll hear from pistorius himself. 7:00 p.m ., he says he and reeva had dinner at his house. then they went to the bedroom shortly after 8:00 p.m . he says reeva was doing yoga, he was talking to his cousin by phone. pistorius then says he started to get tired, so he put his head down on reeva's stomach to rest. he went to sleep, he says, just after 9:00 p.m ., but reeva was still awake, and told her, look, can you bring in the fans and lock up when you're all done? she said yes, that's fine. then in the middle of the night , pistorius told the court just moments ago, he heard the bathroom window sliding open. it woke him up. he thought there was an intruder inside the house. and oscar pistorius in his own words takes it from there.

>> just as i left my bed, i whispered for reeva to get down and phone the police. as i entered the passage where the closet is -- where i entered the passage where the closet is to the bathroom, it was at that point that i was just overcome with fear and i started screaming and shouting for the burglar or intruders to get out of my house. i shouted for reeva to get on the floor. i shouted for her to phone the police.

>> reporter: oscar pistorius does not appear on camera for this testimony, so it's audio only. basically, he said he was overwrought by fear and thought there was an intruder, screamed for reeva to get down. he told the court that he grabbed his gun to protect he and reeva, and just moments ago as we came on the air, they broke for lunch. so we're going to hear more about what happened in the moments of that shooting coming up shortly, savannah, and we'll be here for it.

>> all right, jeff, thank you very much and we will take a deeper look at that testimony in the next