Judgement Day: follow the Oscar Pistorius trial live

By admin
11 September 2014

See the latest updates from the North Gauteng High Court, where Judge Masipa will hand down the court's verdict.

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14:28 "The accused acted too hastily and used excessive force. His conduct was negligent. We'll have to stop here and proceed tomorrow morning." -- Judge Masipa

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14:27 Not reasonable to shoot into cubicle

A reasonable person would not have fired shots into the toilet cubicle, Judge Thokozile said in her judgement in the murder trial of Oscar Pistorius.

"I am not persuaded that a reasonable person... would have fired four shots into a toilet cubicle," she said in the High Court in Pretoria.

A reasonable person would have foreseen that the person inside the cubicle could have died.

"He chose to use a firearm," she said.

"I am of the view that the accused acted too hastily."

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14:23 "Many people in this country have been victims of violent crime but they have not resorted to sleeping with a firearm under their pillow." -- Judge Masipa

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2:13 Court resumes and Judge Masipa deals with the issue of culpable homicide.

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12:35 The court breaks for lunch

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Oscar not guilty of murder

Oscar Pistorius is not guilty of murder. "The accused therefore cannot be found guilty of murder dolus eventualis [legal intent]... that however is not the end of the matter as culpable homicide is a competent verdict," she said, as Pistorius sobbed. -- Sapa

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No proof for intent

The evidence before the court did not prove intent in the Oscar Pistorius murder trial, Judge Thokozile Masipa said on Thursday. "I now deal with legal intent... "The evidence before this court does not support the State's contention that this could be dolus eventualis [legal intent]," she said while handing down judgement in the High Court in Pretoria. -- Sapa

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---------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------- 12:19 Judge Masipa explains legal principles. "It is irrelevant that the person behind the door was not the intruder. The question is whether the accused intended to kill the person behind the door."

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12:08 State did not prove premeditated murder

The State has failed to prove that Oscar Pistorius committed premeditated murder, Judge Thokozile Masipa said on Thursday.

The evidence for premeditated murder was "purely circumstantial", she said in the High Court in Pretoria.

"I am here talking about direct intention. The State has clearly not proven beyond reasonable doubt that the accused is guilty of premeditated murder." -- Sapa

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---------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------- 12:02 "The deceased was killed under very peculiar circumstances. Some of the circumstances do not make sense." -- Judge Masipa

 

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11:58 Oscar was a very poor witness

"The accused was a very poor witness," Judge Thokozile Masipa read from her judgement.

"During his evidence-in-chief he seemed composed and logical. During cross-examination he lost his composure."

She rejected Pistorius's defence that this was because he was under emotional stress, traumatised, and medicated. "It was only under cross-examination that he contradicted himself and visibly felt uncomfortable," she said, explaining herself. -- Sapa

---------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------- 11:57 "The conclusion that is reached must account for all the evidence. None of it may simply be ignored." -- Judge Masipa

---------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------- 11:47 "The defence submitted that the accused lacked criminal capacity because of his increased startle response. I disagree with this - difference between reflex and involuntary action." -- Judge Masipa

 

"The accused’s own evidence was that he never intended to shoot the robbers. It was argued that if the accused claimed he never intended to shoot anyone, he can’t claim putative self defence."

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11:45 Oscar could distinguish between right and wrong

Murder-accused Oscar Pistorius could distinguish between right and wrong when he shot and killed his girlfriend Reeva Steenkamp, Judge Thokozile Masipa said in the High Court in Pretoria on Thursday.

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

Masipa, dealing with his criminal capacity, said the defence argued that Pistorius had the intention to shoot to protect himself. She said the arguments by the defence showed that the court was dealing with a "plethora of defences".

She said the court had to determine if Pistorius lacked criminal capacity and if he diminished his criminal capacity when Steenkamp was shot at his Pretoria home on February 13, last year.

Pistorius repeatedly told the court that he had no time to think before he fired shots, and this raised the doubt on whether the accused could be held criminally accountable, said Masipa.

She said the defence argued that this was temporary non-pathological criminal capacity and in support of their defence that Pistorius suffered from general anxiety disorder.

Pistorius was sent for psychiatric observation by three psychiatrists and a psychologist.

Psychiatrists compiled a joint report and said that at the time of the alleged offences the accused did not suffer from an order that affected his criminal capacity.

"Mr Pistorius did not suffer from a mental illness that would have rendered him criminally not responsible," she said.

"He was capable of appreciating the wrongfulness of his act."

Both state and defence counsel stated that they accepted the findings, she said. -- Sapa

---------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------- 11:40 Judge Masipa picks up right where she left off, dealing with the defence's version.

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11:00 The court breaks until 11:30

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11:30 Crowd sings outside court

A crowd began singing outside the High Court in Pretoria on Thursday as they awaited the ruling.

"We are here to support [the] women of South Africa. We are not happy about what happened to Reeva," said Siyabangena crime fighting co-ordinator Jeremiah Ramohapi.

The group was made up of crime patrollers from around Gauteng.

They were singing with the ANC Women's League who were also gathered outside the court, in support of the family of Reeva Steenkamp. -- Sapa

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10:56 Masipa questions Oscar's 'I didn't think'

The claim by murder accused paralympian Oscar Pistorius that he did not think he could kill someone was rejected by Judge Thokozile Masipa in the High Court in Pretoria on Thursday.
'This assertion is inconsistent with someone who shot without thinking'

"This assertion is inconsistent with someone who shot without thinking," she read from her judgement.

"I shall revert to this later."

She was referring to Pistorius's evidence that "he never thought he could kill someone in the toilet", and that this only occurred to him after Reeva Steenkamp had died.

She was summarising Pistorius's evidence. She read extracts from what he had told the court: "He did not have time to think", "he fired shots at the door but did not do so deliberately" and "he did not aim at the door but the firearm was pointed at the door".

Judge Thokozile Masipa delivers judgment in the Oscar Pistorius murder trial at the High Court in Pretoria on Thursday, 11 September 2014. PHOTO: Phill Magakoe/Independent Newspapers/ Pool Judge Thokozile Masipa delivers judgment in the Oscar Pistorius murder trial at the High Court in Pretoria on Thursday, 11 September 2014. PHOTO: Phill Magakoe/Independent Newspapers/ Pool

Masipa said Pistorius had told the court he was not ready to discharge his gun. However the safety catch on his gun was off.

Masipa said earlier it was clear the sounds most of the witnesses heard were Pistorius using his cricket bat to break down his toilet door to get to a dying Steenkamp, and not the shots he fired.

"It is clear from the rest of the evidence that these were actually the sound of the cricket bat against the door," she said.

Defence witness and Pistorius's immediate neighbour Eontle Hillary Nhlengethwa said she was woken by a man screaming, but did not hear shots fired.

Masipa said witnesses heard three loud bangs, which was from the cricket bat, and this was "consistent with the version" of Pistorius.

She rejected evidence from Pistorius's neighbour Estelle van der Merwe.

The court could not link what she had heard in the early hours of February 14 last year to the events at Pistorius's home. Court adjourned for tea at 11am. -- Sapa

 

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10:44 Whatsapp messages can't assist court

The WhatsApp messages sent between Oscar Pistorius and his girlfriend Reeva Steenkamp cannot assist the High Court in Pretoria in his murder trial, Judge Thokozile Masipa said on Thursday.
'None of this evidence proves anything'

She said the WhatsApp messages were read out by the State to demonstrate that the relationship between Steenkamp and Pistorius was on the rocks.

The defence read out more messages to depict a loving relationship, she said.

"In my view none of this evidence from the state or the defence prove anything," she said.

"Neither the evidence of a loving relationship or a relationship turned sour, can assist this court... None of this evidence proves anything."

She said that evidence could not help the court determine if Pistorius wanted to kill Steenkamp.

While Masipa was handing down judgement, a sketch artist sat in the corner looking at Pistorius.

Masipa was dealing with whether Pistorius's version could reasonably and possibly be true.

Oscar Pistorius and Reeva Steenkamp during the Our Nations Pride / SA Sports Awards Gala Dinner at Sandton Convention Centre on November 04, 2012 in Johannesburg, South Africa. PHOTO:Lefty Shivambu / Gallo Images Oscar Pistorius and Reeva Steenkamp during the Our Nations Pride / SA Sports Awards Gala Dinner at Sandton Convention Centre on November 04, 2012 in Johannesburg, South Africa. PHOTO:Lefty Shivambu / Gallo Images

She said it was important to recap the State's version and whether it supported the premeditated theory with the fact that Steenkamp had her cellphone with her in the locked toilet.

Masipa said there could be a number of reasons as to why Steenkamp had a cellphone, including for light because the light in the bathroom was not working.

Moving onto the food contents in Steenkamp's stomach, Masipa said Pistorius said they had dinner at 7pm.

"Even if the court had to accept that Steenkamp had something to eat, it would not assist the State," she said.

Steenkamp could have left the room to get something to eat when Pistorius was asleep, Masipa added.

The court could not rely on gastric emptying because it was not "an exact science" and evidence was inconclusive, she said.

The State said Steenkamp ate two hours before she died, to support their theory that the athlete and model were fighting before she was shot. She said it was not clear if the alarm was ever activated that morning. -- Sapa

---------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------- 10:34 The first sounds, between 3:13 am and 3:14 am were the sounds of the gunshots, Judge Masipa says. "The timing of the call to security is important. Both Dr and Mrs Stipp saw the situation as an emergency. It as unlikely that Mrs Stipp would have taken more than 30 minutes to respond."

 

Unwise to rely on what witnesses heard

Judge Thokozile Masipa would not rely on what witnesses to Reeva Steenkamp's killing claimed they heard, she said in the High Court in Pretoria on Thursday. "It would be unwise to rely on any evidence by those witnesses who gave evidence on what they heard that morning. Human beings are fallible and rely on memory, which fades over time."
'Human beings are fallible and rely on memory, which fades over time'

As Masipa read her judgement, four police tactical response team officers, without rifles, watched over the court, hands behind their backs.

Masipa said fortunately phone records allowed for the chronology of events to be recreated.

She read the timeline between 3.12am on February 14 last year, when the first shots were heard, and 3.55am, when police arrived on the scene.

"It gives a feel of where witnesses corroborate or contradict one another," she added.

She took a sip of water, whispered to one of her assessors, and called a two-minute break. -- Sapa

---------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------- 10:20 "Thankfully this court can rely on objective evidence in the form of technology," Judge Masipa says as she lays out the chronology of events as per telephone records.

Masipa dismisses first witnesses' evidence

Judge Thokozile Masipa rejected the evidence given by two of Oscar Pistorius's neighbours in his murder trial in the High Court in Pretoria on Thursday.

She said the evidence given by Michelle Burger and her husband Charl Johnson, who live in Silver Stream estate, next to Pistorius's Silver Woods Country Estate, on the morning Reeva Steenkamp was shot was dismissed.

"I do not think Mr Johnson and Ms Burger were dishonest," she said.

"I am rejecting the entirety of their evidence."

She said because of the time the shooting took place there was a possibility that any of the witnesses who are neighbours missed some of the sounds.

Masipa said there could be a number of reasons why the witnesses missed some of the sounds.

She said Burger and Johnson did not know Pistorius or Steenkamp.

"I do however think that they were unfairly criticised for making virtually identical statements," she said.

She said they related what they thought they heard to the investigating officer who had his own way of writing statements.

The defence said during the trial that they made identical statements.

Masipa said it was easy to see why they were mistaken about the events of the morning. She said the distance from their houses was at their disadvantage.

Several factors played an important role in witness evidence including how long they know the accused, she said.

She said in Pistorius's murder trial they had to deal with "more tricky" factors including sound.

"None of the witnesses had ever heard the accused scream or cry, let alone when he was anxious," she said.

State witness and Pistorius's former girlfriend Samantha Taylor conceded she never heard Pistorius scream when he was faced with a life endangering situation.

During the trial the witnesses said they heard a woman scream.

"At the time of the incident -- no one else in the house. Could only be one of them," said Masipa.

She said that according to the post mortem Steenkamp suffered "horrendous injuries".

Four gun shot wounds. Head, right upper arm, upper groin, and right hand to two fingers.

As Masipa spoke, Barry Steenkamp, Reeva's father, sat forward to lean on the bench in front of him. His wife June sat straight up listening.

Pistorius sat head down as Masipa read out Steenkamp's wounds. He was clenching his jaw as she spoke.

"The shots were fired in quick succession, in my view the deceased would have been unable to scream," she said.

"The only other person that screamed is the accused. The question is, why was he screaming."

The fact that the case attracted much media attraction and became a topic of discussion in many houses did not help, she said.

Masipa said that witnesses conceded that they discussed the case before they took the stand.

She said this meant that some witnesses knew what happened in court before taking the stand.

"I am of the view that there is a probability that some witnesses failed to differentiate what they knew personally to what they heard," said Masipa. -- Sapa

---------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------- 10:17 "Some witnesses failed to separate what they knew personally from what they had heard in the media. The court had to approach each witnesses evidence with caution." -- Judge Masipa

 

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"The deceased suffered a devastating wound to her arm. The head wound was immediately incapacitating. The shots were fired in quick succession which meant the deceased would not have been able to scream. The only other person who could have screamed was the accused." -- Judge Masipa

---------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------- 10:03 Married couple Charl Johnson and Michelle Burger were unfairly criticised for having almost identical statements. I do not think they were dishonest. They recounted what they remembered, but were genuinely mistaken. It’s easy to see why they were mistaken - their distance from the scene put them at a disadvantage. The witnesses had ever heard the accused scream, so they had no prior knowledge or model to compare to. -- Judge Masipa

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09:58 Several issues were raised in the trial, Judge Masipa says, referring to claims of contaminated scene, the authenticity of the photos and so forth. "These issues have paled into insignificance with regard the other evidence."

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09:57 No detailed rehash of evidence

Judge Thokozile Masipa promised on Thursday there would be no exhaustive "rehash" of evidence during her judgment.

"It shall not be possible, nor will it serve any purpose, to rehash the evidence in detail," she said in the High Court in Pretoria.

She said three issues arose during the trial, but that these had subsequently lost their importance. The three were possible police contamination of the crime scene, the length of the extension cord that disappeared from Pistorius's bedroom subsequent to his killing of his girlfriend Reeva Steenkamp, and the authenticity of police crime scene photos.

"These issues have paled into insignificance in light of the rest of the evidence," she said.

As she read, her two assessors, Themba Mazibuko and Janette Henzen-du Toit, sat quietly on either side of her. Apart from Masipa's voice the only other sounds in court GD were the ticking of laptop keyboards, and someone occasionally clearing their throat.

Pistorius sat still, but appeared to cry quietly when Masipa began describing Steenkamp's fatal injuries. -- Sapa

---------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------- "Judge Masipa is not going to be rushed," journalist Alex Crawford posts from court. "The world will have to wait. She's reading at a measured pace, unhurried."

Follow YOU and Huisgenoot journalist Alet van Zyl on Twitter for more courtroom updates.

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09:34 Judge begins Pistorius judgment

Judge Thokozile Masipa began handing down judgment at around 9:30am in paralympian Oscar Pistorius's murder trial in the High Court in Pretoria on Thursday.

She was flanked by her two assessors, Themba Mazibuko and Janette Henzen-du Toit.

A court official earlier put papers on her bench, and another ordered silence in the court.

"Before the judge comes in we want utter silence. And when she leaves no hustle and bustle, please, ladies and gentlemen," he said.

He also instructed that there be no eating in court and asked media to look after their cellphones and laptops. Ahead of Masipa's arrival, the orderly instructed that phones' sound be switched off. -- Sapa

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09:10 Pistorius escorted to dock

Pistorius was escorted to the dock, and bowed his head after taking his seat.

The mock-up toilet cubicle that had previously been in court was no longer there.

His sister Aimee arrived later in court, wearing a black skirt and jacket.

Pistorius's uncle Arnold was also in court, with a serious look on his face.

Steenkamp's uncle Michael Steenkamp was also in attendence. -- Sapa

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PHOTO: Sapa PHOTO: Sapa

09:00 Oscar Pistorius arrives at court

Oscar Pistorius arrived at the High Court in Pretoria at around 9am ahead of judgment in his murder trial.

Pistorius pushed his way through a media contingent wearing a black suit, white shirt and black tie. He arrived in a white SUV.

He embraced his aunt and shared a long hug with his brother Carl, who arrived earlier in a wheelchair.

Pistorius also hugged his lawyer Brian Webber and greeted the rest of his legal team. The Steenkamp family just looked at him as he arrived in court. He greeted them, saying, "Morning," and nodded his head slightly. -- Sapa

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What lies in store for Oscar if he’s sent to prison? Will he be allowed to take his prostheses to jail? Click here for more.

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08:45 Carl Pistorius arrives at court

Carl Pistorius arrived in a wheelchair at the High Court in Pretoria at around 8.45am on Thursday ahead of judgment in his brother Oscar Pistorius's murder trial.

Carl Pistorius was injured in a car accident. PHOTO: Phill Magakoe/Independent Newspapers/ Pool Carl Pistorius was injured in a car accident. PHOTO: Phill Magakoe/Independent Newspapers/ Pool

His brother was not with him.

Carl Pistorius was wearing a grey suit. Both of his legs, which were in casts, were propped up infront of his wheelchair.

He initially tried to enter the court through the main entrance, but then turned around and went in through the court's exit. -- Sapa

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PHOTO: Sapa PHOTO: Sapa

08:25 Families, lawyers arrive at court

The family of Reeva Steenkamp arrived at the High Court in Pretoria after 8am on Thursday for the judgment in paralympian Oscar Pistorius's murder trial.  

Her parents June and Barry Steenkamp were seen arriving, as well as her cousin Kim Martins.

Steenkamp's friends Phuti Khomo and Gina and Kim Myers were also at court.

Steenkamp lawyer Dup de Bruyn, and Pistorius's counsel Barry Roux also arrived at court. Prosecutor Gerrie Nel made an early arrival, wearing a dark suit and white shirt.

The ANC Women's League were also in attendance. -- Sapa

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08:08 Smile again Oscar, says supporter

Oscar Pistorius is an inspiration and he must smile, a supporter outside the High Court.

"I feel very, very sorry for Oscar. We are here to support him, me and my daughter... I want him to know he must feel free to smile again," Rea du Plessis said.

She was carrying a banner outside the court which read: "Oscar you were, you are, [you] will always be [an] inspiration, a HERO." -- Sapa

A supporter of Oscar Pistorius with a banner outside the entrance of the High Court in Pretoria ahead of the arrival of the paralympian, Thursday, 11 September 2014. PHOTO: SAPA A supporter of Oscar Pistorius with a banner outside the entrance of the High Court in Pretoria ahead of the arrival of the paralympian, Thursday, 11 September 2014. PHOTO: SAPA

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07:53 Media sets up outside court

Scores of journalists streamed to the High Court in Pretoria.

Television vans were lined up in Madiba Street, and several camera crews were setting up at the court's entrance awaiting the arrival of Pistorius.

Journalists were seen filing stories, while others were milling around, waiting to take their seats in the court room.

Part of the road had been cordoned off, and police were positioned at certain points.

Prosecutor Gerrie Nel made an early arrival at the court, wearing a dark suit and white shirt.

Reeva Steenkamp's friends Gina and Kim Myers were also at court.

Judge Thokozile Masipa was expected to start handing down judgement in the case at 9.30am. -- Sapa

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