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Pistorius hires U.S. forensics experts for help in murder trial

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(Globalpost/GlobalPost)

JOHANNESBURG (Reuters) - Olympic and Paralympic athlete Oscar Pistorius has enlisted the help of U.S. forensics experts as he prepares for a murder trial which is due to start in March next year, his spokeswoman said on Tuesday.

Pistorius, 26, has been charged with murdering his girlfriend Reeva Steenkamp on February 14 - Valentine's Day - at his home in Pretoria. If convicted, he could face life in prison.

Spokeswoman Anneliese Burgess said the forensics team was currently in South Africa, but would not provide further details. "It is standard practice to work with specialists from various fields in preparing for a trial," she told Reuters.

Double-amputee Pistorius, known as "Blade Runner" for the prostheses he wears in competition, has admitted shooting Steenkamp through a closed bathroom door. He said he mistook her for an intruder and that the shooting was a terrible accident.

Prosecutors say the track star knew what he was doing and gunned down his 29-year-old girlfriend after a heated argument.

Steenkamp, a fashion model and aspiring TV star, was shot in the head, arm and hip and died at the residence. Pistorius was released on bail in February.

Pistorius was born without fibulas and had both his legs amputated below the knees before he turned one-year-old.

He was one of the most-celebrated athletes of the 2012 Olympics and Paralympics in London, progressing to the Olympic 400-metre semi-final and winning Paralympic gold over the same distance.

His trial is scheduled to start on March 3, 2014 and to run until March 23.

(Reporting by Jon Herskovitz; Editing by Pravin Char)

http://www.globalpost.com/dispatch/news/thomson-reuters/131001/pistorius-hires-us-forensics-experts-help-murder-trial