Oscar Pistorius Verdict: Blade Runner Found Not Guilty Of Murder

Oscar Pistorius Verdict
Olympic and Paralympic track star Oscar Pistorius listens to Judge Thokozile Masipa deliver her verdict at the North Gauteng High Court in Pretoria September 11, 2014. South African Judge Masipa began reading her verdict in the 6-month murder trial of Paralympic and Olympic athlete Oscar Pistorius on Thursday, in a detailed ruling expected to conclude the following day. Pistorius, the double amputee who became one of the biggest names in athletics, shot dead his model and law graduate girlfriend Reeva Steenkamp on Valentine's Day last year. REUTERS/Phill Magakoe/Pool

Olympic Athlete Oscar Pistorius, known as the “Blade Runner”, has been found not guilty of premeditated murder in a Pretoria court in South Africa on Thursday. Judge Thokozile Masipa delivered her verdict in a murder trial that has fascinated the world over.

There is no doubt that Pistorius shot and killed his girlfriend, Reeva Steenkamp on Valentine’s Day of 2013, but Pistorius believed she was an intruder and he was acting in self defense. The prosecution led by Gerrie Nel, during the grueling trial sought out to prove that Pistorius killed Steenkamp after an argument the two had early in the morning.

In a deafening blow to Nel and the prosecution, Judge Masipa announced that the state’s case of premeditated murder which was composed of witness testimony by Pistorius’ neighbors as well as text messages sent back and forth between Pistorius and Steenkamp weeks before the murder, was simply unreliable.

In reading her verdict, Judge Masipa took the charge of premeditated murder, essentially finding Pistorius not guilty of the highest possible charge he faced that also had a maximum sentence of life in prison. Judge Masipa noted her verdict that the state had to prove the case of premeditated murder beyond a reasonable doubt, meaning that there was absolutely no way that Pistorius’ version of events was true and she believed that there was no way to prove that either version was 100% accurate.

Interestingly, Judge Masipa read in her verdict that she believed Pistorius was a “poor witness”. Citing examples of his defiance on the stand especially upon being read witnesses’ testimony as well as many other oddities while he was on the stand. However, she also said that just because Pistorius was a poor witness, does not mean that his version of events was not true.

At this point, we will wait to see if Judge Masipa finds Pistorius guilty of murder, culpable homicide, or acquits him of both charges. There is still a possibility that Pistorius could see significant jail time. For that we will have to see if Judge Masipa believes Pistorius acted in self defense or not.

 

UPDATE:

After returning from a five-minute break, Judge Masipa began to establish a foundation for a potential verdict of “Culpable Homicide.” Murder would be a slightly lesser charge than premeditated murder, and “Culpable Homicide,” even lesser than that. If found guilty of “Culpable Homicide,” there is no standard sentence for the charge of “Culpable Homicide” which is equivalent to manslaughter here in the United States,  the charge, would most likely come with a sentence of five years in prison, or could serve no prison time at all and merely be on parole for the rest of his life.

As of this moment, if Judge Masipa continues on with the foundation she is laying that Pistorius is guilty of “Culpable Homicide,” than Pistorius could be acquitted on all charges or serve 5-10 years in prison. Sentencing would not happen for months from now. Pistorius is currently weeping as this part of the verdict is being read.

The court has taken a break for lunch, but as of right now, we know that thus far, this is a massive victory for Oscar Pistorius and his defense team. He has been found not guilty of the two highest charges of murder and premeditated murder and will not spend the rest of his life in jail or even a significant amount of his life in jail. Judge Masipa made it clear in reading her verdict before adjourning for lunch, that Pistorius could not have known with 100% certainty if it was Reeva Steenkamp in the bathroom or not, or if the shots he fired into the bathroom toilet would kill the person inside or not.

 

Watch the live coverage of the trial HERE

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Michael Duarte

Michael J. Duarte is a Los Angeles based writer. Born and raised in the City of Angels, Michael did his undergraduate work at the University of California Santa Barbara and a graduate program at the University of Southern California. Michael was awarded the Paul Lazarus Screenwriting Scholarship Award in 2004 and the Corwin Writing Award for his feature screenplay, "Chasing 4:00" in 2005. In addition to Sports writing, Michael is an avid marathon runner and fan of the Magic Bullet blender.