Oscar Pistorius was found guilty of culpable homicide Friday and faces a sentence of up to 15 years in prison for shooting and killing girlfriend Reeva Steenkamp last year.
Judge Thokozile Masipa delivered her verdict in a packed Pretoria court room, confirming what she indicated on the first judgment day Thursday. Sentencing is still to come, beginning Oct. 13, as is a possible appeal.
Masipa asked Pistorius to please stand from his seat on a wooden bench and first read that the runner was found not guilty of murder, which she also indicated Thursday.
“Instead, he’s found guilty of culpable homicide,” Masipa said, climaxing the six-month, break-filled trial on its 43rd day of proceedings by saying Pistorius negligently killed Steenkamp.
Pistorius did not appear to have obvious reactions, either from a live stream of the ruling or from reports from inside the court room.
He stared ahead in a dark suit and tie, his left hand folded over his right.
Pistorius, the first double amputee to run in the Olympics in 2012, shot four times through a locked bathroom door on Valentine’s Day 2013, hitting and killing Steenkamp inside.
“A reasonable person … would have foreseen that possibility that whoever was behind the door might be killed by the shots and would have taken steps to avoid the consequences,” Masipa said. “The accused, in this matter, failed to take those consequences.”
Masipa said Pistorius’ lawyers correctly argued the runner believed he was shooting at an intruder rather than Steenkamp. The prosecution’s case was that Pistorius shot Steenkamp after they had an argument.
Masipa believed Pistorius’ verson of events, saying it was highly improbable he would have made up a story so quickly, having told the first people he saw after the shooting.
“The accused gave a version which could reasonably, possibly be true,” Masipa said. “In criminal law, that is all that is required for an acquittal as the onus to prove the guilt of an accused beyond reasonable doubt rests with the state throughout.
“The sequence of events, namely the shots, the screams, the shouts of help, the sound of a cricket bat striking against the toilet door, the calls made by various witnesses to security to report screams and/or shots are more in line with the version of the accused.
“Although it is not necessary for the state to prove motive, there is no basis on which this court could make inferences of why the accused would want to kill the deceased. In addition, there is objective evidence in the form of phone records. This, too, supports the version of the accused.
“Furthermore, the conduct of the accused shortly after the incident is inconsistent with the conduct of someone who had intention to commit murder. He acted promptly in seeking help soon after the incident. He shouted for help. He called a friend … He called 911. He called security, although he could not speak as he was crying. He prayed to God to save the deceased’s life. He was seen trying to resuscitate the deceased … and he was distraught.”
Pistorius was also convicted of one of three lesser, unrelated firearms charges, which could add to a possible prison sentence. He was found guilty of firing a gun in a public place, in a restaurant in January 2013.
Pistorius was granted bail as he awaits sentencing.
Pistorius’ uncle Arnold made a statement about an hour after Friday’s court session.