Judge: Pistorius Can't Be Found Guilty of Murder
By Gerald Imray and Christopher Torchia | Associated Press
Judge Thokozile Masipa said she felt the double-amputee Olympian acted negligently when he fatally shot Steenkamp through a toilet door in his home in the predawn hours of Valentine's Day last year. In a moment of high-drama, she then stopped reading out her judgment in the six-month-long trial and adjourned until Friday. A formal judgment in the case that has riveted much of South Africa and the world is expected on Friday.
If Pistorius is acquitted of murder, he could still be sent to jail for years if convicted of culpable homicide.
While the judge did not announce a verdict, she said the prosecution had not proven beyond a reasonable doubt that Pistorius committed premeditated murder. She also ruled out a lesser murder charge, but said Pistorius may be vulnerable to being convicted of culpable homicide — in other words a negligent killing.
"I am of the view that the accused acted too hastily and with excessive force," Masipa said of Pistorius actions on the fatal night last year.
The world-famous athlete has acknowledged firing four shots through a toilet door in his home, hitting Steenkamp in the head, arm and hip area and killing her. He says he mistook her for an intruder. The prosecution alleges the athlete intentionally killed his girlfriend, a model and budding reality TV star, after a loud argument, which was heard by neighbors.
Culpable homicide normally carries a five-year jail sentence in South Africa when a firearm is used, but it can be changed by a judge depending on the specific circumstances of the killing.
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