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11th Sep 2014

Oscar Pistorius Trial: Athlete Found Not Guilty of Premeditated Murder and Second-Degree Murder

She adjourned court in the afternoon, announcing that her verdict on culpable homicide will be delivered tomorrow.


We will have to wait until tomorrow to learn if Oscar Pistorius is to be charged with culpable homicide (manslaughter) as a trial, that has been running for six months, comes to its culmination. 

Judge Thokozile Masipa announced part of her verdict this morning in one of the most talked about trials in recent times.

Today the judge found Paralympic athlete Oscar Pistorius not guilty of the premeditated murder and not guilty of second-degree murder of his girlfriend, Reeva Steenkamp, at their home on St Valentine’s Day 2013. 

The double amputee (27) denied killing his 29-year-old girlfriend on Valentine’s Day last year.

Oscar Pistorius pictured with Reeva Steenkamp less than three weeks before the incident.

The judge explained her partial verdict this morning after six months of evidence and having reviewed more than 4,000 pages of evidence.

She adjourned court in the afternoon, announcing that her verdict on culpable homicide will be delivered tomorrow.

According to Sky News, the judge stated that to determine if the accused (Pistorius) can be charged with culpable homicide, “we must look at a reasonable man.”

It was also acknowledged that all the accused had to do if he believed that there was an intruder in his home was to “pick up the phone and ring security, or run to the balcony and call for help.”

The judge also said that Pistorius knew that there was a person behind the toilet door and chose to use a firearm.

It was also noted by Sky News that the judge appears to be of the view “that the accused acted negligently”.

Earlier this morning, as she opened her address, the judge began with a description of the layout of the house and further discussion on the evidence that had been presented, before saying: “The State has not proved beyond a reasonable doubt that the accused is guilty of premeditated murder.”

Oscar Pistorius Is Tried For The Murder Of His Girlfriend Reeva Steenkamp
The media frenzy outside the courtroom today.

The judge then went on to discuss second-degree murder.

“The blow was meant for the person behind the door who the accused believed was the intruder,” she said. “The blow struck and killed the person behind the door.” The fact, she continued, that this turned out to be “the deceased and not an intruder is irrelevant.”

“The deceased had the intention to shoot the person in the toilet, but had not intended to kill the person,” she continued, adding a commentary on private defence in the home.

“The accused is the only person who can say what his state of mind was at the time he fired the shots that killed the deceased,” she said.

“The accused has not admitted that he had the intention to shoot and kill the deceased. On the contrary, he said he had no intention to shot and kill the deceased.  The court is entitled to look at the evidence as a whole… to determine the presence or absence of intention…

“He believed that his life, and that of the deceased, was in danger,” she stated. “The bathroom window was indeed open, so it was not his imagination at work. He armed himself with a loaded firearm.”

“Did the accused subjectively foresee that it could be the deceased behind the door?” she queried before clearing Pistorius of second-degree murder.

The judge then broke for lunch.

Oscar Pistorius’s father Henke Pistorius kisses the hand of his daughter Aimee Pistorius while part of the judgment is handed down.

In her statement, she said: “The accused was a very poor witness… he lost his composure.”

She added that Pistorius was “under medication when he gave his evidence” and that “this argument does not make sense in my view.” She then described him as an “evasive witness.”

“He failed to listen properly to questions put to him under cross examination,” she continued. “Giving the impression that he was more worried about the impact his answer would cause rather than the questions asked. When contradictions were pointed out to him…he often blamed his legal team for the oversight.”

During the verdict she also made a number of other observations, whilst also dismissing a lot of evidence, including text messages.

Pistorius, who sold the house where the incident occurred to help pay for his legal bills, will now have to wait until tomorrow morning to hear his fate. He also faces firearm charges.