Date
13 December 2017
A tearful Oscar Pistorius reacts as the judge clears him of murder in the 2013 killing of his girlfriend. Photo: Reuters
A tearful Oscar Pistorius reacts as the judge clears him of murder in the 2013 killing of his girlfriend. Photo: Reuters

Pistorius faces homicide charge after escaping murder conviction

Oscar Pistorius has been cleared of premeditated murder in the 2013 killing of his girlfriend but he is not off the hook.

The South African Olympian will next face a charge of culpable homicide by reason of negligence when sentencing resumes after a 41-day trial at the High Court in Pretoria, Bloomberg reported Friday.

Judge Thokozile Masipa said Pistorius was negligent when he shot Reeva Steenkamp through a bathroom door at his home on Valentine’s Day last year.

Rather than arm himself to deal with what he thought was an intruder, Pistorius could have called the police or yelled for help, she said.

If convicted of culpable homicide, Pistorius could serve up to 15 years in prison. He remains free on 1 million rand (US$91,500) bail since February last year. 

Earlier, Masipa said the prosecution failed to prove the charge of premeditated murder and rejected a murder verdict, saying he couldn’t have foreseen that the shooting would have killed whoever was behind the door.

Pistorius sobbed on the shoulder of his sister Aimee as the court adjourned. Steenkamp’s mother and father sat in the public gallery.

Pistorius gave different explanations about the shooting. He testified at one point that he fired without thinking and at another that he was shooting at someone he believed was about to attack or kill him. The judge called him “evasive” and “a very poor witness”, the report said.

Masipa rejected the defense’s contention that the shooting was a reflex and Pistorius lacked cognitive capacity.

She discounted the state’s presentation of WhatsApp messages between Pistorius and Steenkamp showing they had argued and from the defense indicating they were in a loving relationship.

Known as the Blade Runner because of his prosthetic running blades, Pistorius was the first double amputee to compete in the Olympics.

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