Oscar Pistorius has been found guilty of culpable homicide after yesterday being cleared of murdering Reeva Steenkamp on Valentine’s Day last year. Judge Thokozile Masipa told the court that there was not enough evidence to prove beyond reasonable doubt that the athlete was guilty of premeditated murder or murder. He was also found guilty on one firearms charge, but acquitted on two others. Pistorius could face up to 15 years in jail on the culpable homicide charge.
Here is what has been heard so far:
9.20am: Masipa recaps the four counts against Pistorius and her findings. She repeats again that the state did not prove beyond reasonable doubt that Pistorius was guilty of premeditated murder or murder. Today, she is giving a detailed legal explanation of why she acquitted Pistorius of murder – a decision which received some criticism from legal experts yesterday. Finally, Masipa asks Pistorius to stand and announces:
- Count one: not guilty of murdering Reeva Steenkamp, but guilty of culpable homicide
- Count two: not guilty of firearms charge relating to sunroof incident
- Count three: guilty of negligence in regards to firearms charge relating to Tashas restaurant
- Count four: not guilty of firearms charge relating to possession of illegal ammunition
9.10am: Pistorius’s final firearms charge is the illegal possession of .38 ammunition in his Pretoria home. The athlete did not have a gun that takes that ammunition, but neither did he have a permit to be in possession of the ammunition. Pistorius told the court the bullets belonged to his father and he had them for safe-keeping, although his estranged father declined to sign an affidavit to confirm that the ammunition was his own. Masipa says the accused must have the “necessary mental intention to possess a firearm or ammunition before there can be a conviction”. The state failed to prove that Pistorius had the necessary mental intention to possess the ammunition, she says. Therefore, he cannot be found guilty on this count.
9am: The second firearms charge faced by Pistorius relates to an incident in January, before Steenkamp’s death, when a Glock pistol went off while in his possession in a Johannesburg restaurant called Tashas. Masipa says Pistorius may not have intended to fire the gun, but this “does not absolve” him from the crime of negligence. Masipa says she accepts in full the evidence of state witness Kevin Lerena. Pistorius was trained in firearms, she says. “He should not have asked for a firearm in a restaurant full of patrons.” The state has proved beyond reasonable doubt that he is guilty on this count, says the judge.
8.50am: Masipa begins with Pistorius’s two charges of discharging firearms in public. The athlete is accused of firing a gun out of an open car sunroof in September 2012 while in the car with his girlfriend at the time, Samantha Taylor, and his friend Darren Fresco. Fresco was “not an impressive witness at all”, in fact he was proved to be a “dishonest witness”, says the judge. For example, Fresco claimed Pistorius had driven at 260km an hour, but it later emerged that it was Fresco driving at the time. Masipa says this does not always mean a witness’s whole evidence is tainted, but caution is warranted. The relationship between Taylor and Pistorius did not “end amicably” and it was clear that she had been “hurt”. Masipa says this does not necessarily mean she was out to implicate the accused, but again her evidence must be taken with “a certain degree of caution”. As Pistorius denied the incident, it is up to the prosecution to prove that it happened. Masipa announces that the state has failed to establish that the accused is guilty beyond reasonable doubt on this count and therefore has to be acquitted on one charge of discharging firearms in public.