One the second day of a two-day verdict hearing, Oscar Pistorius was officially convicted of the crime of culpable homicide for the shooting death of his girlfriend Reeva Steenkamp. Judge Thokozile Masipa ruled that the South African sprinter, a double amputee who runs on carbon fiber legs, behaved negligently on February 14, 2013, when he shot at Steenkamp through a bathroom door in his home in the middle of the night. Pistorius claimed that he believed Steenkamp was an intruder, but there were witnesses who testified that the couple had been fighting.
On Thursday, Masipa began the reading of the verdict, a process that often takes several hours and sometimes multiple days. Yesterday, she revealed that the prosecution had failed to make a case for the most serious charge of premeditated murder, despite the fact that she said that Pistorius was an evasive witness. The judge declared that there was not sufficient evidence to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that Pistorius intended to kill Steenkamp.
He was also convicted of a weapons charge for an unrelated incident in which a firearm went off in a crowded restaurant. He was acquitted of another similar gun charge, and for owning illegal ammunition.
The charge of culpable homicide carries a maximum sentence of 15 years in jail, but also has no minimum, giving the judge a lot of leeway for punishments. It's possible he could get nothing more than a fine and suspended sentence. The sentencing will happen on October 13.
Pistorius's bail was immediately revoked as a result of the conviction, but Judge Masipa reinstated bail at the end of the hearing, meaning he will be released while he awaits sentencing.
Running for South Africa, Pistorius was the first double amputee to compete in the Summer Olympic Games, where he ran the 400m sprint and relay events. He has five gold medals from Paralympic Games, and a silver medal from 2011 World Championships (4x400m relay), making him the first amputee to win a medal while competing against able-bodied athletes at a major track and field championship.
Steenkamp, also a South African native, was a model and TV presenter, who was chosen to represent Avon cosmetics in South Africa in 2007. She and Pistorius began in dating in the fall of 2012 and she had been cast in a reality TV show shortly before her death. She was 29.
This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.
We want to hear what you think about this article. Submit a letter to the editor or write to firstname.lastname@example.org.