A South African judge said Thursday that the state has not proven premeditated murder in the case of Oscar Pistorius, who shot his model girlfriend last year. She, however, hasn’t issued a verdict yet and the proceedings continue.
Pistorius’ trial started six months ago, transfixing the world with graphic details of how he fatally shot Steenkamp.
Before she rejected the premeditated murder charge, Judge Thokozile Masipa questioned why he fired “not one … but four shots” into the bathroom before he went to find his girlfriend.
However, she said, the intention to shoot does not necessarily mean the intent to kill.
“Court is satisfied that at the relevant time, the accused could distinguish between right and wrong” and act accordingly, she said.
Shortly before, Masipa cast doubt on witness testimony, and said she believes media coverage contaminated testimonies. She doubted state witnesses, saying they were in and out of sleep the night of the killing on Valentine’s Day last year.
“Technology is more reliable than human perception and human memory,” she said.
She described the victim’s wound as “immediately incapacitating,” and said she believed a scream heard by witnesses the night of the killing was Pistorius,’ not Steenkamp’s.
The judge appeared to be accepting the defense timeline of events that the shots came first, then screaming that must have been Pistorius.
She knocked down some aspects of the state’s case: the fact that Steenkamp took her phone and locked herself in the bathroom allegedly out of fear for her safety, phone messages between the couple that showed some rocky patches, and her stomach contents.
Steenkamp’s parents, Barry and June Steenkamp, sat expressionless a few rows behind the man on trial for killing their daughter. Her father bowed his head as he heard about his daughter’s fatal wounds.
Pistorius’ uncle, sister and brother also attended the hearing in the packed courtroom — the latter in a wheel chair from a car accident.
Murder-He is not guilty of intentional murder.Evidence is circumstantial.It failed to establish he had the intention to kill the deceased. The state has not proved beyond reasonable doubt that he is guilty of premeditated murder .
On the Witnesses
The judge said most of the witnesses lost credibility because, they failed to separate what they knew personally,from what they had heard from other people and what they gathered from the media.
The incident happened at a very early hour of the morning when most of the witnesses were in bed or partly asleep .
The prosecution based most of their arguments on witnesses to prove there was pre-meditated murder ,however, she has rebuffed most of the witness testimonies .She said the media coverage had influenced the witnesses and their perception towards him.
Of the additional three charges, the most serious one is related to ammunition found in his house when police searched it after the killing.
He did not have a proper license for it, but he maintains he was storing it in his safe for his father.
If he is found guilty of the ammunition charge, he could face up to 15 years in prison, though the judge could opt for a lesser punishment such as a fine or the loss of his gun license.
Two other charges are related to allegations that he recklessly fired a gun in public — once in a restaurant in 2012, and again out of the sunroof of a car last year. Pistorius denies both.
The maximum penalty for each charge is five years behind bars. If he is convicted of either, he could face a lesser sentence, such as a fine or the loss of his gun license.
He awaits to find out if he’s guilty of culpable homicide (manslaughter) which is the negligent death of another. It means there was no intention to kill but the killing is unlawful. The court has adjourned for early lunch.
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