Judge: Pistorius Not Guilty of Murder Charges

Judge rejects those charges, could find him guilty of culpable homicide
By Evann Gastaldo,  Newser Staff
Posted Sep 11, 2014 5:35 AM CDT
Updated Sep 11, 2014 7:42 AM CDT
Judge in Pistorius Trial: Not Premeditated Murder
Oscar Pistorius cries in Pretoria, South Africa, on Sept. 11, 2014, as Judge Thokozile Masipa reads notes as she delivers her verdict in Pistorius' murder trial.   (AP Photo/Phil Magakoe, Pool)

The judge in Oscar Pistorius' trial will not find him guilty of murder, but he could still be found guilty of lesser charges, including culpable homicide—the equivalent of manslaughter. As CNN puts it, "Under South African law, Pistorius will not be found guilty of 'murder.'" According to the AP: "The judge ... appeared to be heading for a culpable homicide finding." Judge Thokozile Masipa said the prosecution failed to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that Pistorius is guilty of premeditated murder, then later said she also found that he is not guilty of intentionally killing Reeva Steenkamp, and finally said she did find him "negligent," which, as the AP notes, strengthens the possibility of a culpable homicide conviction. She then adjourned the trial until tomorrow.

Masipa found that Pistorius could not have known the person he was shooting at behind the bathroom door would die, and she also said the evidence suggests he truly believed Steenkamp was still in the bedroom at the time and he was shooting at an intruder. She seemed to accept the defense's version of the timeline: First came the shots, then screaming that she said she believed was coming from Pistorius, not Steenkamp. If Pistorius is found guilty of culpable homicide, the judge can decide on sentence length; there is no minimum. He also faces three weapons charges, and Sky News reports that Masipa did say there is "no doubt" he "acted unlawfully" when firing. (More Oscar Pistorius stories.)

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