Judge Thokozile Masipa Rules Blade Runner Oscar Pistorius Not Guilty of Premeditated Murder in the Death of Girlfriend Reeva Steenkamp … Still Faces “Culpable Homicide”(Update: Pistorius Found Guilty of Culpable Homicide)
Oscar Pistorius Found Not Guilty of Murder in Death of Reeva Steenkamp … Say hello to South Africa’s O.J. Simpson.
This morning Judge Thokozile Masipa ruled the Blade Runner, Oscar Pistorius, was not guilty of premeditated murder in the shooting death of his girl friend Reeva Steenkamp. The shooting took place on Valentine’s Day 2013. The judge ruled that the prosecution’s evidence to support a charge of premeditated murder was “purely circumstantial.” and “the state clearly has not proved beyond reasonable doubt that the accused is guilty of premeditated murder.” The judge went on to say that “there are not enough facts.” However, Pistorius is hardly out of trouble as he only has been found “not guilty” of the most serious murder charge. He still faces the lesser charges of “culpable homicide” in the shooting death of his girlfriend.
The judge presiding over the trial of Oscar Pistorius, the Paralympic athlete, cleared him of the two most serious murder charges against him on Thursday, almost certainly sparing him a long prison sentence. But then, after appearing to be on the verge of declaring Mr. Pistorius guilty of a lesser crime, culpable homicide, in the shooting death of his girlfriend, the judge abruptly suspended court proceedings for the rest of the day.
“We’ll have to stop here and resume tomorrow morning,” the judge, Thokozile Matilda Masipa, said less than half an hour after the session had resumed after a lunch break. She did not explain the adjournment.
Judge Masipa then turned to the lesser charge of culpable homicide, which is comparable to involuntary manslaughter, and said Mr. Pistorius had failed three tests to be exonerated of the charge. One considers what a “reasonable” person would have done under the same circumstances.
Reuters – Africa: Pistorius cleared of murder, culpable homicide verdict to come.
“I am of the view that the accused acted too hastily and used excessive force. It is clear that his conduct was negligent,” she told the packed courtroom before adjourning until Friday. She also said he had not acted “reasonably”.
Earlier, Masipa ruled that prosecutors, led by the combative Gerrie Nel, had failed to prove the 27-year-old intended to kill Steenkamp after an argument.
The defence said Pistorius shot Steenkamp as a result of a tragic accident after mistaking her for an intruder hiding behind a locked toilet door.
As Masipa delivered her not-guilty decision on the primary charge of premeditated murder, Pistorius, who would have faced at least 25 years behind bars if convicted, sat sobbing in the dock, tears streaming down his cheeks.
Culpable homicide – the South African equivalent of Britain’s manslaughter – carries up to 15 years in prison but has no minimum sentence.
Although Masipa described Pistorius as a “very poor” and “evasive” witness, she said it did not mean he was necessarily guilty in a case heavily reliant on circumstantial evidence
ABC News: Judge Masipa called Pistorius a “very poor witness” during the murder trial and found he was at times vague and avoided answering some of the prosecution’s questions. Despite that, she says this does not necessarily indicate his guilt. From the wording of the judge’s decision in the not guilty verdict of murder and premeditated murder,m it seems almost a certainty that she will find him guilty of culpable homicide.
A verdict on the charge of culpable homicide, similar to manslaughter in the United States, still remains. Pistorius also faces two counts of discharging a gun in a public area, as well as illegal possession of ammunition.
If he is found guilty of murder without premeditation, or culpable homicide, he could receive a 15-year sentence as a first time offender. Mitigating factors, such as his emotional state, anxiety levels and disability could result in a lesser sentence.
The Guardian: LIVE updated coverage of the trial of Oscar Pistorius.
Olympic and Paralympic track star Oscar Pistorius was convicted of culpable homicide on Friday, escaping the more serious charge of murder for the killing of his girlfriend, and will now battle to avoid going to prison.
The 27-year-old double amputee, who became one of the biggest names in world athletics, stood impassively in the dock, his hands folded in front of him, as Judge Thokozila Masipa delivered her verdict.
Pistorius was also convicted of firing a pistol under the table of a packed Johannesburg restaurant but cleared of two other firearms charges – illegal possession of ammunition and firing a pistol out of the sun-roof of a car.