PRETORIA, South Africa Feb. 15, 2013— -- Oscar Pistorius denied in the "strongest terms" that he murdered his girlfriend after weeping openly in a South African court this morning as he was charged with the crime.
Pistorius, 26, appeared in court in Pretoria, the capital of South Africa, to face murder charges for allegedly killing his model girlfriend, Reeva Steenkamp, 30, by shooting her four times early Thursday morning.
Prosecutors said that they would pursue the more serious charge of "premeditated murder" under the South African judicial system.
The Olympian amputee, known as the "blade runner" because of the carbon-fiber blades he runs on, covered his face with his hands and sobbed "uncontrollably" as the prosecutors read the allegations, according to the Associated Press. The judge ruled that the hearing would not be broadcast and no photographs could be taken.
According to investigators, Pistorius shot Steenkamp with a handgun around 3 a.m. on Thursday at his home in a gated community in Pretoria. Witnesses reported hearing an argument or shouting at the complex before the shooting, and investigators found only Steenkamp and Pistorius on the premises, police said Thursday.
Police also said there had been prior incidents of a domestic nature at the home of Pistorius.
The 9-mm handgun from the crime scene was entered into evidence today during the court proceedings, according to the Associated Press.
Pistorius' family said in a statement after the court appearance that "the alleged murder is disputed in the strongest terms."
"These are now live and active legal proceedings which must be allowed to take their course through the process of proper investigation by the police, evidence-gathering and through the local South African judicial system," the statement said.
Pistorius and his family hired lawyers who arranged to investigate the alleged crime independently of the local police, they said in the statement.
The lawyers representing Pistorius asked for a bail hearing to be postponed until Tuesday so they have time "for their own investigation into the circumstances of the tragedy."
Pistorius will remain jailed until the hearing.
The sprinter, who took home gold and silver medals at the London Paralympics in 2012, said through his family that his thoughts are with Steenkamp's family.
"Oscar Pistorius has made history as an Olympic and Paralympic sportsman and has been an inspiration to others the world over," the statement said. "He has made it very clear that he would like to send his deepest sympathies to the family of Reeva."