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Feb. 14, 2013 at 5:19 PM   |   Comments

Oscar Pistorius charged with murder

PRETORIA, South Africa, Feb. 14 (UPI) -- Oscar Pistorius, the first amputee Olympic sprinter, was charged with murder Thursday in the shooting death of his model-girlfriend in his South African home.

Police in Pretoria said they would ask at a hearing scheduled for Friday that Pistorius be held without bail, The New York Times reported. They refused to speculate on a motive for the shooting but spokeswoman Brig. Denise Beukes said officers had been to Pistorius' home previously because of problems of a "domestic nature."

Model Reeva Steenkamp, 30, was shot in the head and arm around 3 a.m. and declared dead at the scene, police said. Some South African newspapers suggested Pistorius might have thought Steenkamp was a burglar.

Pistorius, 26, appeared severely shocked when questioned by police at his home in Pretoria, the Afrikaans daily Beeld reported. Police said they found a 9mm pistol in the house.

Henke Pistorius told the South African Broadcasting Corp. he would not comment on his son's arrest.

"I don't know nothing. It will be extremely obnoxious and rude to speculate," he said. "I don't know the facts. If anyone makes a statement, it will be Oscar. He's sad at the moment."

Steenkamp and Pistorius had a "healthy, fabulous" relationship, Steenkamp's publicist, Sarit Tomlinson, told Sky News, the Times said.

Dozens of people posted messages on Steenkamp's Facebook page expressing sadness and shock.

"Rest in peace beautiful soul," read one message. "Such a terrible tragedy and loss," read another.

The Times said Steenkamp sent a Valentine-themed tweet Wednesday: "What do you have up your sleeve for your love tomorrow???"

Pistorius was born without a fibula in both legs, which were amputated below the knee when he was 11 months old. He races wearing carbon-fiber prosthetic blades and is known as the "Blade Runner."

Pistorius is the first double amputee to run in the Olympic Games, qualifying for the 400-meter semifinals and 4x400-meter final at the 2012 Summer Olympics. He also competed in the Paralympics, where he won gold medals in the 400 meters and in a relay and silver in the 200 meters.


Serena Williams nears return to No. 1

DOHA, Qatar, Feb. 14 (UPI) -- World No. 1 Victoria Azarenka didn't lose a game Thursday at the Qatar Total Open but Serena Williams pulled within one win of taking the rankings' top spot.

Azarenka was a 6-0, 6-0 winner over Christina McHale in a third-round match and took another step toward defending her tournament title. But even if Azarenka repeats as champion, she will lose the No. 1 ranking should Williams win her quarterfinal match Friday.

Williams, seeded second at Doha, defeated Urszula Radwanska 6-0, 6-3 in 57 minutes Thursday. Williams won 62 percent of the points on serve and 63 off Radwanska's serve. She also finished off 6-of-9 break points.

Her stellar play since losing a first-round match at last year's French Open has put her on the verge of regaining the No. 1 ranking. At 31, she would be the oldest woman to reach the top of the rankings.

Azarenka won 69 percent of the points in her win Thursday. She dropped 10 points in six serving games.

Seven of the top eight seeds advanced to Friday's quarterfinals. Third-seeded Maria Sharapova did so with a 6-3, 6-3 win over Klara Zakopalova. Sharapova had nine double faults and lost her serve three times, however.

No. 4-seeded Agnieszka Radwanska stopped 13th-seeed Ana Ivanovic 6-1, 7-6 (8-6) and will next play 10th-seeded Caroline Wozniacki, who advanced with a 7-6 (8-6), 6-3 decision over Mona Barthel.

Sixth-seeded Sara Errani just got by Daniela Hantuchova 7-5, 5-7, 6-2 in more than 2 1/2 hours while No. 7-seeded Petra Kvitova defeated No. 11 Nadia Petrova 4-6, 6-4, 6-3 and Samantha Stosur, the eighth seed, topped Svetlana Kuznetsova 6-4, 7-5.

In addition to the Radwanska-Wozniacki match Friday, the quarterfinals have Azarenka going against Errani, Sharapova playing Stosur and Kvitova between Williams and the No. 1 ranking.


Federer, del Potro advance in Rotterdam

ROTTERDAM, Netherlands, Feb. 14 (UPI) -- Top seeds Roger Federer and Juan Martin del Potro advanced Thursday, gaining quarterfinal spots at the ABM AMRO World Tennis Tournament in the Netherlands.

Federer, the No. 1 seed and defending champion, dispatched Thiemo De Bakker 6-3, 6-4 in an efficient 62 minutes. Federer won nearly three-quarters of the points on serve, facing one break point. He had a break in each set in the win.

Del Potro, the second seed, ousted Ernests Gulbis 7-6 (7-5), 6-3, using the lone break of the match to take the second set. Del Potro saved the two breaks points he faced.

Marcos Baghdatis upset fourth-seeded Richard Gasquet 6-4, 6-4, again with a break in each set and winning the three break chances Gasquet had.

Jarkko Nieminen got by Matthias Bachinger 6-3, 5-7, 6-3 and Martin Klizan defeated Igor Sijsling 6-2, 6-4.

De Bakker and Sijsling were the last two Dutch players in the draw.

Federer draws Julien Benneteau Friday while Klizan plays No. 5-seed Gilles Simon in the other top-half quarterfinal. Del Potro goes against Nieminen and Baghdatis faced Grigor Dimitrov in the other matches Friday.


Matt White's wife unstable, lawyer says

MEDIA, Pa., Feb. 14 (UPI) -- The wife of former Penn basketball star Matt White, who was stabbed to death, may not be mentally competent to stand trial for his killing, her lawyer said.

Maria Reyes Garcia-Pellon, 52, is accused of stabbing her husband to death with a knife as he slept Monday in their Nether Providence, Pa., home.

White was a member of the 1979 Penn team that reached the NCAA Final Four. After being drafted by the NBA Portland Trail Blazers, he played basketball in Europe for 12 years.

Kathryn Labrum, Garcia-Pellon's attorney, said Wednesday her client is "so far separated from reality."

Authorities said Garcia-Pellon told them after the incident she was upset her husband was viewing pornography, possibly involving juveniles, on a home computer.

Labrum said White took his wife to a local hospital after friends expressed concern about her mental issues, adding she was given medication but was refused admission.

"She was having a psychiatric crisis," Labrum said. "He knew that she needed help [and] tried to get her help."

Garcia-Pellon is a native of Spain who met White while he was playing in Europe, the Philadelphia Daily News reported Thursday. She is being held without bail in the Delaware County jail and is scheduled for a preliminary hearing Feb. 25.

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