PRETORIA, South Africa - Oscar Pistorius is "numb with shock as well as grief" after the shooting death of his model girlfriend at his home, the runner's uncle said Saturday as his family strongly denied prosecutors' claims that he murdered her.
Arnold Pistorius spoke with The Associated Press and two other South African journalists about his nephew's arrest in the killing of Reeva Steenkamp, who was shot four times on Valentine's Day.
The statement, the first on camera and directly made in person by Pistorius' family, also came out strongly against prosecutors seeking to upgrade the charge against Pistorius to one of premeditated murder, which carries a sentence of life in prison.
"After consulting with legal representatives, we deeply regret the allegation of premeditated murder," Arnold Pistorius said. "We have no doubt there is no substance to the allegation and that the state's own case, including its own forensic evidence, strongly refutes any possibility of a premeditated murder or murder as such."
He said the family was "battling to come to terms with Oscar being charged with murder."
The track star's arrest in the killing of Steenkamp, 29, shocked South Africa, where Pistorius was a national hero and icon dubbed the Blade Runner for his high-tech running blades and revered for overcoming his disability to compete at the London Olympics. She was discovered before dawn Thursday by police called to Pistorius' home in a gated community. Authorities said she had been shot four times, and a 9 mm pistol was recovered at the home.
Pistorius, 26, is being held at a police station pending a bail hearing Tuesday. Police have already said they'll oppose Pistorius' being released before trial. A premeditated murder charge also makes it harder for his defense team to get bail.