A South African magistrate warned against the "trial by media" of Oscar Pistorius today as the athlete appeared in court, charged with killing his girlfriend Reeva Steenkamp. The judge said some of the coverage had been "scandalizing" he said. NBC Correspondent, Rohit Kachroo, reports from Pretoria
The trial of Olympic and Paralympic sprinter Oscar Pistorius over the alleged Valentine’s Day murder of his girlfriend Reeva Steenkamp in South Africa was postponed Tuesday until Aug. 19.
The defense team for the star athlete and double amputee known as the “Blade Runner,” quickly agreed to the prosecution’s motion to delay the case.
The 26-year-old Pistorius appeared composed as he stood in the dock at Pretoria Magistrates Court, hands crossed and silent.
When told a warrant could be issued for his arrest if he did not appear on Aug. 19, he replied, “Yes, sir.”
Alexander Joe / AFP - Getty Images
South African sprinter Oscar Pistorius appears Tuesday in a Pretoria court for the first time since February.
Aug. 19 would have been Steenkamp’s 30th birthday.
The magistrate went on to say that he was “a little bit concerned” about the extensive coverage of the star athlete’s case, particularly reporters being briefed on the case, adding that he feared a “trial by media.”
"Anyone who has information … must approach” the prosecuting authority he said, adding, “I also read newspapers” and saying there was a danger of “scandalizing” the case.
A lawyer for Pistorius echoed the magistrate’s comments, saying media coverage had been “over the top and grossly disproportionate.”
The brief formal court appearance was the first for Pistorius since he was released on bail Feb. 22. He did not appear at a March hearing during which his bail conditions were lightened, giving him freedom to leave the country.
During a Feb. 19 hearing, Pistorius said in a statement to the court that he had heard a noise in the bathroom and felt “a sense of terror” on the night he fatally shot Steenkamp, insisting he thought someone had broken into his South Africa home.
"I had no intention to kill my girlfriend," he said in the statement.
In that same hearing, prosecutor Gerrie Nel said there was nothing to support Pistorius’ claim that he feared there was an intruder in the house when he killed Steenkamp.
During Tuesday’s hearing, Pistorius was surrounded by family. One relative said there were almost 80 family members present.
A statement from family members said: “We believe in him, love him and will support him every step of the way in what lies ahead.”