Oscar Pistorius has told a court he was "deeply in love" with his girlfriend and denied killing her.
The Paralympic superstar gave his version of events, saying he had shot Reeve Steenkamp because he thought she was a robber.
The 26-year-old broke down in tears in the courtroom, where he is applying to be released on bail. However, the magistrate's decision to class the alleged crime as premeditated murder makes the chances of bail look slim.
A friend of Ms Steenkamp also said the couple "had nothing but love for each other," reporters inside the court said.
Prosecution lawyers had earlier accused Pistorius of the pre-meditated murder of his girlfriend.
In a statement read out by his solicitor, Pistorius said he had been at home with Reeva during the evening, with her doing yoga and him watching television.
During the night, he said he had felt a "sense of terror" when he heard a noise inside the bathroom.
Pistorius, who kept a 9mm pistol next to his bed, said he felt vulnerable because he was not wearing his prosthetic legs.
He claimed he fired his gun into the bathroom, but then realised Ms Steenkamp was not in his bed.
"It filled me with horror and fear," Pistorius said.
Upon realising his mistake, he put on his legs, walked towards the bathroom and broke down the locked door with a cricket bat.
He said he ran downstairs carrying his 29-year-old girlfriend, but "she died in my arms".
Pistorius went on: "I fail to understand how I could be charged with murder, let alone premeditated murder, as I did not plan to murder my girlfriend, Reeva Steenkamp."
The hearing was adjourned for the day, and Pistorius remained in custody.