Pistorius not guilty of murder but was negligent
PRETORIA, South Africa (AP) — During his trial, Oscar Pistorius sometimes retched and sobbed. The double-amputee Olympian sobbed again on Thursday, this time in apparent relief as a judge said the evidence did not support a murder conviction for killing girlfriend Reeva Steenkamp.
The judge could still convict Pistorius of a negligent killing — a crime that can carry a lengthy jail term or just a suspended sentence and fine — when she likely finishes reading her lengthy conclusions in court on Friday. Some legal analysts were surprised, saying the runner could at least have been convicted of a lesser murder charge, rather than the premeditated murder charge leveled by the state.
The Pretoria courtroom was packed for the ruling in the case against 27-year-old Pistorius, once a globally admired celebrity who competed against able-bodied athletes at the 2012 Olympics in London. His brother, Carl, was there in a wheelchair because of injuries suffered in a recent car crash. So were Steenkamp’s parents, June and Barry.
Steenkamp, a 29-year-old model, had been seeing the star athlete for only a few months before he killed her by shooting four times through a closed toilet door in his home in the pre-dawn hours of Valentine’s Day last year. Pistorius said he thought an intruder was in the toilet and about to attack him; the prosecution said he intentionally killed her after an argument.
Judge Thokozile Masipa, wearing a red robe, unveiled her analysis of the case after saying little throughout the sensational six-month trial as lawyers argued and witnesses testified about the shocking killing.