South African Olympic sprinter Oscar Pistorius has been found not guilty of the most serious charges against him — premeditated murder and a lesser charge of murder — in the death of his girlfriend Reeva Steenkamp in 2013. However, he is still awaiting the verdict on a charge of culpable homicide.
Judge Thokozile Matilda Masipa spent several hours today reading her full verdict from the bench and is still not finished addressing all of the charges. The court will meet again tomorrow at 9:30 a.m. local time to continue the reading, meaning the day ended on quite the cliffhanger. South Africa does not have jury trials, so the decision is made solely by a judge and assessors. In this case, Masipa had two assessors.
In formulating her verdict, Masipa pointed out numerous problems with both the prosecution and defense arguments. In particular, she found Pistorius to be a poor witness who contradicted himself during cross-examination. Masipa disputed his claim that he had no intention to shoot that night, since he grabbed a loaded gun.
"During his evidence, he seemed composed and logical [but] under cross examination he lost his composure [and it seemed] the accused was suffering from enormous emotional stress and was traumatized by reliving the incident," said the judge, "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."