The judge in the Oscar Pistorius trial has ruled out the verdict of premeditated murder, on the grounds that the prosecution had failed to prove that he killed his girlfriend Reeva Steenkamp deliberately after an argument.
The judge had questioned the reliability of several witnesses who apparently heard screams and gunshots at the time of the incident, saying that most of those who had heard the incident “got facts wrong.”
“The state has not proved beyond reasonable doubt that the accused is guilty of premeditated murder,” Judge Masipa said. “There are just not enough facts to support such a finding.”
However Judge Thokozile Masipa had also said that she did not accept the defence’s argument that Mr Pistorius lacked criminal capacity, believing that the accused “could distinguish between right and wrong”.
“He said that if he wanted to shoot the intruder he would have shot higher up and more in the direction where the opening of the door would be. To the far right of the door and at chest height.”
“I pause to state that this assertion is inconsistent with that of someone who shot without thinking”
She said that despite being an evasive witness, he did not have to be guilty. However the judge can also find him guilty of culpable homicide, or manslaughter which could sentence him to a long jail term.
Mr Pistorius had still pleaded not guilty to all the charges he faces, which includes two counts of shooting a firearm in public and the illegal possession of ammunition.
The trial has attracted worldwide attention since 3rd March 2014 when it began, concerning the 27 year old athlete known as the “blade runner”, who had won gold at the London 2012 Paralympics Games and also competed in the Olympics.
Also Pistorius appears to have evaded the verdict of premeditated murder and a life sentence, but he could still be guilty for culpable homicide, which could land him a maximum sentence of 15 years.