Oscar Pistorius trial: Verdict in murder trial due

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South African Judge Thokosile Masipa is due to give her verdict at the murder trial of Oscar Pistorius.

The Olympic double-amputee sprinter faces 25 years in jail if found guilty of premeditated murder.

He denies intentionally killing his girlfriend Reeva Steenkamp on Valentine’s Day last year, saying he thought there was an intruder.

The judge could also find him guilty of culpable homicide, or manslaughter, for which he would face a long jail term.

Possible scenarios
Verdict What it means Sentence
Premeditated murder Intended and planned to unlawfully kill Reeva Steenkamp, or an intruder Mandatory life term – 25 years before parole
Common-law murder Unlawfully intended to kill in the heat of the moment but without “malice aforethought”. Either: Dolus directus (direct intention), shot at door intending to kill Dolus eventualis (aware of likely outcome), knew someone might be killed and still fired gun Minimum of 15 years up to 20 years, at judge’s discretion
Culpable homicide (manslaughter) No intention to kill. Takes into account disability, but actions negligent and not in keeping with a reasonable person Maximum of 15 years, possibly between seven and 10 years
Discharging a firearm in public Two counts for allegedly firing a gun through a car sunroof and discharging a gun at a restaurant A fine or up to five years – for each charge
Illegal possession of ammunition In possession of .38 bullets for which he has no licence A fine or up to 15 years

Mr Pistorius has pleaded not guilty to all the charges he faces, including two counts of shooting a firearm in public and the illegal possession of ammunition.

During his closing remarks last month, his lawyer Barry Roux conceded that the athlete should be found guilty of negligence for discharging a firearm in a restaurant – which carries a maximum penalty of five years.

Analysis: BBC’s Andrew Harding in Pretoria

The cameras have been reinstalled in courtroom GD – ready to catch the reaction of Oscar Pistorius as he finally learns his fate.

But the athlete and those following outside will have to wait – quite possibly until Friday – for Judge Thokosile Masipa to reach her conclusion. Before then, she will spend hours assessing the credibility of all 37 witnesses – not least Mr Pistorius’s own performance.

The prosecution insists it has proved the athlete deliberately shot dead his girlfriend Reeva Steenkamp. He maintains it was a terrible mistake – that he thought she was an intruder.

Two assessors have helped the judge to reach her verdict – and can even overrule her. Many legal experts believe an acquittal is unlikely and that more legal battles lie ahead.

Most of the trial, which began on 3 March 2014, has been televised and attracted worldwide attention.

Before the fatal shooting, the 27-year-old athlete was feted in South Africa and known as the “blade runner”.

He had won gold at the London 2012 Paralympic Games and also competed at the Olympics.

The judgement at his trial is likely to be well over 100 pages. The judge will go through each charge, summing up the prosecution and defence cases and analysing the evidence.

Ms Steenkamp, a 29-year-old model and law graduate, was hit three times by bullets shot through a toilet door by Mr Pistorius at his home in the capital, Pretoria, in the early hours of 14 February 2013.

He denies the prosecution’s allegation that the couple – who had been dating for three months – had rowed.

The athlete said he thought she was still in the bedroom when he heard a noise in the bathroom, which he believed to be an intruder.

The prosecution have tried to characterise Mr Pistorius as a “hothead”, while his defence team have portrayed him as having a heightened response to perceived danger because of his disability and background.

In July, a psychiatric report requested by the judge said Mr Pistorius had post-traumatic stress disorder but no mental illness that could prevent him being held criminally responsible for his actions.

 

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