Oscar Pistorius becomes emotional during his trial at the North Gauteng High Court in Pretoria on April 7, 2014. Picture: Themba Hadebe

Johannesburg - Oscar Pistorius was expected to return to the stand at the North Gauteng High Court in Pretoria on Tuesday to testify in his murder trial.

The Paralympic athlete began delivering his evidence-in-chief on Monday, led by his lawyer Barry Roux.

A tearful Pistorius offered an emotional apology to the family of his dead girlfriend, Reeva Steenkamp, who he shot dead through a locked bathroom door at his house on Valentine’s Day last year.

He claimed to have mistaken her for an intruder.

“I wake up every morning and you (her family) are the first people I think of, the first people I pray for... I was simply trying to protect Reeva,” Pistorius sobbed.

He was on the stand for two hours before Roux asked the court for an early adjournment, claiming Pistorius had spent a sleepless night and was too exhausted to continue.

“I'm just very tired... obviously the weight of this is extremely overbearing,” the sprinter said.

In response, prosecutor Gerrie Nel said: “Well, My Lady, I would like us to finalise the case. We have to get somewhere, I hope it is not a daily occurrence.”

Court adjourned around 20 minutes early. - Sapa