Athletes and fatal domestic violence

Paralympic gold medallist Oscar Pistorius is the latest active athlete to face scrutiny or charges after the violent death of a woman.
Oscar Pistorius hides his face in his hands in court on Feb. 15 during his preliminary hearing on the charge of murdering his model girlfriend Reeva Steenkamp. (Antoine de Ras/AFP/Getty Images)

Paralympic gold medallist Oscar Pistorius is the latest active athlete to face scrutiny or charges after the violent death of a woman.

The South African had been an inspiration to people around the globe for his exploits on the track, racking up medals over three Paralympic Games while becoming the first double amputee to compete in the Olympics, at London 2012.

Just months later, the 26-year-old stands accused of premeditated murder in connection with the shooting death of Reeva Steenkamp on Feb. 14 at his house. Pistorius is claiming that after awaking in the night, he heard a noise and shot what he believed was an intruder.

Here's a look at some of the fatalities in the modern era involving athletes and their spouses, girlfriends or family members:

Cesar Cedeno, 1973

Proving that alcohol and guns don't mix, the budding Houston Astros star is arrested after 19-year-old Altagracia de la Cruz is shot and killed in a Puerto Rican hotel in December 1973.

Cedeno is evidently able to convince authorities he attempted to wrestle the gun from de la Cruz when it fired, ultimately being convicted of involuntary manslaughter. As detailed in Dan Epstein's chronicle of baseball in the 1970s, Big Hair and Plastic Grass, the minimum sentence for that crime was three years. Somehow, Cedeno all told spent less than a month behind bars before resuming what would be a lengthy major league career.

Donnie Moore, 1989

The former MLB all-star had just been cut weeks earlier by a Triple-A club when he shot his wife three times. She managed to escape their home and survive her injuries, with the 35-year-old Moore turning the gun on himself.

A popular narrative built up immediately among sportswriters, partially fed by Moore's agent, that the famed home run Moore served up in the playoffs to Dave Henderson played a part with his downfall and ensuing tragedy. While Moore was never the same as a player after the homer, over the years reports of financial problems, substance abuse and a previous history of domestic violence have surfaced as better explaining factors, detailed in a 2011 article in The Atlantic by Kevin Baker.

Rae Carruth, 1999

Cherica Adams, pregnant with the child of Carolina Panthers receiver Rae Carruth, died a month after she was shot in a car four times in November 1999. Adams detailed some of the last waking moments of her life in a call to a 9-11 operator.

Van Brett Watkins confessed to the shooting, testifying it was done on behalf of Carruth, who was found guilty of conspiracy to commit murder and sentenced to a minimum of 18 years in prison.

Doctors were able to deliver the baby, born with cerebral palsy and brain damage. Chancellor Lee Adams is currently 12 years old.

Fred Lane, 2000

The 24-year-old Carolina Panthers running back was killed with a shotgun in his Charlotte home in July. Five months later, his wife was charged in his killing as well as for bank larceny.

Deidra Lane, 26 at the time of the homicide, pleaded guilty to voluntary manslaughter and was released from prison in 2009.

Steve McNair, 2009

The co-NFL most valuable player just six years earlier, and only two years into retirement, the 36-year-old McNair was shot to death in a rented condo by his 20-year-old mistress. Sahel Kazemi pulled the trigger four times as he napped on the couch before turning the gun on herself.

Bruno Fernandes de Souza, 2009

The Brazilian keeper was charged with the murder of his pregnant ex-girlfriend and, it is important to stress, has not yet been convicted. De Souza, however, has been previously found guilty of assaulting and abducting 25-year-old Elisa Samudio, whose remains have never been found.

Police have charged several people in connection with the alleged killing, including de Souza's wife as well as a former policeman.

The case involves grisly allegations that the victim was tortured and dismembered, with body parts given to dogs. 

Edwin Valero, 2010

The undefeated Venezuelan boxer, with all 27 wins by knockout, was potentially in line for a megabucks superfight with Manny Pacquiao, but reportedly spent much of his last weeks alive in a drug-fuelled haze. One day after being arrested in connection with the stabbing death of the mother of his two children, Jennifer Viera, Valero was found hanged in his prison cell.

Jovan Belcher, 2012

The Kansas City Chiefs linebacker, with a blood-alcohol level more than twice the legal limit for Missouri, shoots girlfriend Kasandra Perkins nine times early on Saturday morning, Dec. 1. Perkins had only weeks earlier given birth to the couple's daughter.

Belcher then drove to Arrowhead Stadium, the home of the NFL team. In the parking lot, he shoots himself in the temple in front of coach Romeo Crennel and general manager Scott Pioli.

After the murder-suicide, details emerge that paint a picture of a tumultuous and abusive relationship. Belcher had threatened to kill Perkins in a text message to another woman.