Oscar Pistorius found guilty of murder

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JOHANNESBURG (AP) — A South African appeals court on Thursday convicted Oscar Pistorius of murder, overturning a lower court’s conviction of the double-amputee Olympian on the lesser charge of manslaughter for shooting girlfriend Reeva Steenkamp to death in 2013.

Justice Lorimer Eric Leach of the Supreme Court of Appeal delivered the ruling by the five-judge tribunal in Bloemfontein and directed the trial court, the North Gauteng High Court, to impose sentence. He did not specify when that should happen. The former track star is currently under house arrest at his uncle’s mansion in Pretoria.

“The accused ought to have been found guilty of murder on the basis that he had fired the fatal shots with criminal intent,” Leach said to the courtroom, in which Steenkamp’s mother sat.

A 15-year prison sentence is the minimum punishment for murder in South Africa. However, the law allows for a lesser sentence to be imposed in exceptional circumstances.

Pistorius was placed under house arrest in October after serving one year in prison. He had been sentenced to five years in prison for manslaughter and got out early in line with corrections department regulations. The trial court can also consider whether he should be shown leniency because he is disabled and is a first-time offender.

Pistorius, 29, killed Steenkamp in the early morning of Valentine’s Day. He insisted he thought she was an intruder behind the door of a toilet cubicle in his home. The prosecution said Pistorius shot Steenkamp during an argument.

Leach said regardless of who might have been behind the door, Pistorius should have known someone could be killed if he fired.

“The identity of his victim is irrelevant to his guilt,” the judge said.

Under the concept of “dolus eventualis” in South African law, a person can be convicted of murder if they foresaw the possibility of someone dying through their actions and went ahead anyway.

Reeva Steenkamp’s mother, June, sat quietly in the courtroom during the announcement, which was shown live on television. Pistorius was not there.

The former athlete’s family said in a statement that it had taken note of the judgment.

“The legal team will study the finding and we will be guided by them in terms of options going forward,” the statement said.

A date for Pistorius’ new sentencing will be announced in the city of Pretoria, where he had been tried and imprisoned.

On Tuesday, journalists got a look at his former cell during a tour of a maximum security prison. It is in the hospital section of the Kgosi Mampuru II prison and is furnished with a single mattress on a metal frame, a basin with a backdrop of white tiles on the wall and a small cabinet. A barred window is backed by a metal screen, blocking the view.

The austere cell is set apart from the main prison in an area with a room for just one other inmate.

Pistorius, a multiple Paralympic champion, became one of the world’s most famous athletes and the first amputee to run at the Olympics and the able-bodied world championships. He was known as “Blade Runner” for his carbon-fiber running blades

Leach described the story of Pistorius and Steenkamp as a “human tragedy of Shakespearean proportions” whose legal aftermath was conducted in the glare of international attention.

“A young man overcomes huge physical disabilities to reach Olympian heights as an athlete,” Leach said. “In doing so he becomes an international celebrity. He meets a young woman of great natural beauty and a successful model. Romance blossoms and then ironically, on Valentine’s Day, all is destroyed when he takes her life.”

MORE: Pistorius timeline since London Olympics

Olympian Derrick Mein ends U.S. men’s trap drought at shotgun worlds

Derrick Mein
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Tokyo Olympian Derrick Mein became the first U.S. male shooter to win a world title in the trap event since 1966, prevailing at the world shotgun championships in Osijek, Croatia, on Wednesday.

Mein, who grew up on a small farm in Southeast Kansas, hunting deer and quail, nearly squandered a place in the final when he missed his last three shots in the semifinal round after hitting his first 22. He rallied in a sudden-death shoot-off for the last spot in the final by hitting all five of his targets.

He hit 33 of 34 targets in the final to win by two over Brit Nathan Hales with one round to spare.

The last U.S. man to win an Olympic trap title was Donald Haldeman in 1976.

Mein, 37, was 24th in his Olympic debut in Tokyo (and placed 13th with Kayle Browning in the mixed-gender team event).

The U.S. swept the Tokyo golds in the other shotgun event — skeet — with Vincent Hancock and Amber English. Browning took silver in women’s trap.

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Mo Farah withdraws before London Marathon

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British track legend Mo Farah withdrew before Sunday’s London Marathon, citing a right hip injury before what would have been his first 26.2-mile race in nearly two years.

Farah, who swept the 2012 and 2016 Olympic track titles at 5000m and 10,000m, said he hoped “to be back out there” next April, when the London Marathon returns to its traditional month after COVID moved it to the fall for three consecutive years. Farah turns 40 on March 23.

“I’ve been training really hard over the past few months and I’d got myself back into good shape and was feeling pretty optimistic about being able to put in a good performance,” in London, Farah said in a press release. “However, over the past 10 days I’ve been feeling pain and tightness in my right hip. I’ve had extensive physio and treatment and done everything I can to be on the start line, but it hasn’t improved enough to compete on Sunday.”

Farah switched from the track to the marathon after the 2017 World Championships and won the 2018 Chicago Marathon in a then-European record time of 2:05:11. Belgium’s Bashir Abdi now holds the record at 2:03:36.

Farah returned to the track in a failed bid to qualify for the Tokyo Olympics, then shifted back to the roads.

Sunday’s London Marathon men’s race is headlined by Ethiopians Kenenisa Bekele and Birhanu Legese, the second- and third-fastest marathoners in history.

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