Olympic athlete, Oscar Pistorius”, was just found not guilty of the 2013 murder of his girlfriend, Reeva Steenkamp. Often referred to as “Blade Runner” because of his blade-shaped prosthetic legs used to run in the Olympic games, Pistorius shot and killed his girlfriend on February 14, 2013 while she was in the bathroom of the couple’s Pretoria home.
Pistorius was taken into police custody and formally charged with murder on February 15, 2013. During the bail hearing on February 19, the prosecution and defense stated that four shots were fired into a locked bathroom door, three hitting Steenkamp and killing her. According to prosecutors, he shot his girlfriend after becoming enraged during a fight while the defense team claimed the shooting was a horrific and unintentional accident with him believing Steenkamp was an intruder.
The actual trial began on March 20, 2013, which consisted of riveting testimony from both sides. However, in a stunning decision, South African Judge Thokozile Masipa said that with premeditation being thrown out, Pistorius could not be found guilty of murder. While he was cleared of killing his girlfriend, the Judge added that without doubt his actions were unlawful.
As Pistorius sobbed, Judge Masipa told the court that clearly, he did not subjectively foresee the murder of his girlfriend being a possibility when he shot into the bathroom but she added that there was no rhythm or reason why he picked up a loaded gun instead of calling authorities to report an intruder in the home.
Judge Masipa felt that Pistorius’ conduct in relation to the shooting was negligent. While there was not enough evidence to show premeditated murder, he was heavily criticized for being evasive with his court testimony. During the trial, the defense claimed Pistorius suffered from temporary insanity and did not have the ability to know right from wrong on that fateful night.
There were several challenges for the prosecution, one being doubt cast on the majority of witnesses in the trial. As Judge Masipa stated, many “facts” were inaccurate and memories tainted.
Because South Africa does not have jury trials, the verdict fell on Judge Masipa and two aids. Using the country’s normal procedures to include making judgment on summation of facts and analysis of evidence, Pistorius was found innocent of murdering his girlfriend. However, court will resume tomorrow to determine if he will be found guilty of the lesser charge of culpable homicide, which is comparable to manslaughter in the Unites States.