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PRETORIA, SOUTH AFRICA — South African athlete Oscar Pistorius and his girlfriend Reeva Steenkamp, who he is accused of shooting to death earlier this week, were planning a future together and his family strongly rejects the prosecutor's charge of premeditated murder.
Arnold Pistorius, the uncle of the popular track star, read a short statement outside his home in South Africa's capital, Pretoria, and said the entire family is in "a state of total shock" about the week's events. "Firstly about the tragic death of Reeva who we had all got to know well and care for deeply over the last few months," he said.
Steenkamp, a 29-year-old model who featured in men's magazines and was well-known in South Africa for appearing in numerous commercials, had been dating Oscar Pistorius since November 2012. She was shot four times on the morning of Valentine's Day while at the home of the Olympic athlete.
"All of us saw at first hand how close she had become to Oscar during that time and how happy they were," Arnold Pistorius said on Saturday. "They had plans together and Oscar was happier in his private life than he had been for a long time. Oscar, as you can imagine, is also numb with shock as well as grief."
The uncle said the family is grieving over Steenkamp's death, but said the family is also battling to come to terms with the star being charged with premeditated murder. "Words cannot adequately describe our feelings," he said. "The lives of our entire family have been turned upside down forever by this unimaginable human tragedy and Reeva's family have suffered a terrible loss."
Oscar Pistorius broke down and sobbed in court Friday as prosecutors charged him with premeditated murder during an initial hearing. He did not enter a plea and will return to court on Tuesday for a bail hearing, but a statement from his management later said the athlete disputes the murder in "the strongest terms."
Arnold Pistorius echoed that statement on Saturday, saying the family is trying to be strong and supportive to Oscar. "We have no doubt there is no substance to the allegation and that the State's own case, including its own forensic evidence, strongly refuses any possibility of a premeditated murder or indeed any murder at all," he said.
Police have released few details about Thursday's incident. One theory suggests Oscar Pistorius confused Steenkamp with a burglar when she tried to surprise him for Valentine's Day, which she wrote about hours earlier on the social networking website Twitter. "What do you have up your sleeve for your love tomorrow?" she wrote in one message, later adding that "it should be a day of love for everyone."