Culpable homicide a competent verdict - Oscar judge

2014-09-11 13:08
Oscar Pistorius sits in court in Pretoria. (Ihsaan Haffejee, Pool, AP)

Oscar Pistorius sits in court in Pretoria. (Ihsaan Haffejee, Pool, AP)

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Pretoria - Paralympian Oscar Pistorius cannot be found guilty of the premeditated murder of his girlfriend Reeva Steenkamp, it emerged in the North Gauteng High Court on Thursday morning.

"The evidence before this court does not support the State's contention that this could be dolus eventualis [legal intent]," Judge Thokozile Masipa said.

"The accused therefore cannot be found guilty of murder dolus eventualis... that however is not the end of the matter as culpable homicide is a competent verdict," she said.

"The State has not proved beyond reasonable doubt that the accused is guilty of premeditated murder. There are just not enough facts to support such a finding."

The court ruled that the evidence with regard to the murder charge was "purely circumstantial".

A shaking Pistorius wept as the ruling was made.

Evasive witness

Masipa found that Pistorius was a "very poor witness" and contradicted himself on the stand.

"During his evidence, he seemed composed and logical... [but] under cross examination he lost his composure...[and it seemed] the accused was suffering by enormous emotional stress and was traumatised by reliving the incident," she said.

"The accused was, amongst other things, an evasive witness."

Masipa noted that he failed to listen properly to questions, and that certain parts of his testimony did not make sense.

She questioned why four shots were fired instead of one, and said Pistorius was "clearly not candid" with the court.

Vulnerable

Masipa said it was understandable that a person with a disability such as Pistorius's would feel vulnerable when threatened by danger.

"This court is satisfied that at the relevant time, the accused could distinguish between right and wrong," she said.

"The essence of accused's defence was that he had no intention to shoot at anyone... let alone the deceased."

Pistorius, 27, said he thought an intruder was behind the door of the toilet in his Pretoria home when he shot through it. He fired four times, killing his Steenkamp on 14 February 2013.

The State argued the murder was premeditated.

Pistorius pleaded not guilty to the murder charge, and to three firearm-related charges.

Read more on:    reeva steenkamp  |  oscar pistorius  |  thokozile masipa  |  pistorius trial

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