Judge Begins Reading Verdict In Oscar Pistorius Murder Trial

Oscar

REUTERS/Siphiwe Sibeko

A South African judge has begun reading her verdict in the muder trial of Olympic track star Oscar Pistorius. It could take up to two days to read out the case, according to BBC.

Pistorius is accused of murdering his girlfriend Reeva Steenkamp on Valentine's Day of last year. Pistorius claimed he mistook her for a burglar, but prosecutors argued he shot Steenkamp intentionally as the result of an argument.Advertisement

Pistorius is facing charges of premeditated murder, firing a gun in a public space, and illegally possessing ammunition. His trial spanned about six months, and 37 witnesses testified.

Judge Thokozile Masipa has the option of forgoing a murder conviction in favor of a lesser charge of culpable homicide, meaning he acted in what he thought was self-defense, but was still negligent in shooting Steenkamp.

In South Africa, a premeditated murder conviction carries a minimum sentence of 25 years in prison, but a culpable homicide conviction leaves the penalty up to the judge.
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During trial, Pistorius claimed that he fired four shots through a locked bathroom door at his Pretoria home because he thought Steenkamp was an intruder. He said he woke up and heard a noise in the bathroom, remembered there were no bars on the bathroom windows, and thought contractors working on the property had left ladders outside. He said he assumed Steenkamp was still in bed next to him.

But neighbors who testified at the trial said they heard arguing and a woman screaming at Pistorius' house the night Steenkamp died. And in a text conversation just weeks before she died, Steenkamp told Pistorius that she's "scared of [him] sometimes." The burden was on the prosecution to prove that Pistorius meant to kill Steenkamp. As The Independent points out, they had to show that their version of events "is the only version of events that can possibly be true."Advertisement