Oscar Pistorius cleared of murdering girlfriend Reeva Steenkamp

Oscar Pistorius cleared of murdering girlfriend Reeva Steenkamp
Published: 2014 September 11 14:33:03 (8662 Views)
Oscar Pistorius has been cleared of murdering his girlfriend Reeva Steenkamp.

The Paralympian sat sobbing in the dock as the judge delivered her not guilty verdicts for murder and pre-meditated murder.

Pistorius had been accused of deliberately shooting the 30-year-old model during a furious row at his Pretoria home on Valentine's Day last year.

But he had always maintained - often through wails of despair and vomiting - that he shot the law graduate in self-defence after mistaking her for an intruder.

Judge Thokozile Masipa went on to address a lesser charge of culpable homicide - similar to manslaughter - saying the runner had been 'negligent' when he fired the fatal shots.

She told the court that Pistorius had acted 'hastily' and with 'too much force' but adjourned proceedings for the day before reaching a verdict.

In coming to her decision on the murder charges, Judge Masipa earlier described the 27-year-old as a 'very poor' and 'evasive' witness.

But she said that did not mean the track star was necessarily guilty of the murder charges in a case she said was based entirely on circumstantial evidence.

'The state has not proved beyond reasonable doubt that the accused is guilty of pre-meditated murder,' Masipa told the Pretoria High Court.

'There are just not enough facts to support such a finding.'

She then proceeded to absolve Pistorius of the lesser charge of murder without pre-planning.

'Clearly he did not subjectively foresee this as a possibility that he would kill the person behind the door - let alone the deceased - as he thought she was in the bedroom,' she told the packed courtroom.

The judge said she believed accounts an emotional Pistorius gave to police at the scene in the moments after the shooting.

She said: 'Counsel for the defence correctly argued that it was highly improbable that the accused would have made this up so quickly and be consistent in his version, even at the bail application, before he had access to the police docket and before he was privy to the evidence on behalf of the state at the bail application.

'The question is, did the accused foresee the possibility of the resultant death, yet persisted in his deed reckless of whether death ensured or not?

'In the circumstances of this case, the answer has to be no.

'How could the accused reasonably have foreseen that the shot he fired would kill the deceased?

'Clearly he did not subjectively foresee this as a possibility that he would kill the person behind the door, let alone the deceased - as he thought she was in the bedroom at the time.'

Judge Masipa has yet to decide on a lesser charge of culpable homicide - similar to manslaughter.

Early in her summary of the case, she dismissed a series of heated text messages between the couple which the prosecution claimed was evidence.

Prosecutor Gerrie Nel had used them in an attempt to bolster his claim that the athlete shot his girlfriend in a fit of rage.

But the judge said that inference could not be made, adding: 'Nothing of this proves anything at all.'

She added: 'Neither the evidence of the loving relationship or a relationship turned sour can assist this court to determine whether the accused had the requisite intention to kill the deceased.'

She also said there was 'some doubt' that a woman screamed on the night because of contradictory witness testimony, which she believed had been contaminated by media reports.

This apparently acknowledged the possibility that the defence argument that it was, in fact, Pistorius who had been screaming in a high-pitched voice.

However, she also cast doubt on the evidence of some defence witnesses.

And she said Pistorius himself in his evidence showed 'a number of defences, or apparent defences'.

After reading a list of contradictory statements in Pistorius's testimony, she said one assertion 'is inconsistent with someone who shot without thinking'.

Prosecutor Gerrie Nel took 15 days to lay out his case against Pistorius back in March, arguing he deliberately killed Miss Steenkamp by firing four rounds from a 9mm pistol through a closed toilet door.

A key part of the prosecution's case was its assertion that Miss Steenkamp screamed during a late-night alleged fight with Pistorius before he killed her.

He called several neighbours who testified to hearing a woman's terrified screams before a volley of shots to counter Pistorius's assertions that he mistook Miss Steenkamp for a burglar.

Mr Nel tore into the athlete's personality to bolster his argument, painting him as an egotistical liar obsessed with guns, fast cars and beautiful women.

In his summing up last month, he cut through months of complex evidence and testimony by saying: 'His intention was to kill a human being.'

His defence team said there are 'two Oscars' - a world-class athlete and a highly vulnerable individual with a serious disability who acted out of fear, not anger, when he fired the fatal shots.

Defence lawyer Barry Roux said psychological evidence had proven the track star had a heightened fight response as a result of his disability.

'You're standing at that door. You're vulnerable. You're anxious. You're trained as an athlete to react.

'Take all those factors into account,' Roux said, adding that Pistorius had felt exposed because he was standing on the stumps of his legs.

'He stands with his finger on the trigger, ready to fire when ready.

'In some instances a person will fire reflexively,' he added.

'That is your primal instinct.'

Shortly after, his estranged father Henke arrived, putting in only his second appearance at the trial that has captivated a global audience for the last six months.

'I'm just here to support him,' Henke told reporters.

The athlete's brother, Carl Pistorius, arrived at the courthouse in a wheelchair with both his legs in splints in his first appearance since being seriously injured in a car crash earlier this year.

There are likely to be arguments if and when sentence is handed down and, most likely, an appeal to a higher court.

Pistorius denied all the charges, including three other firearm-related counts.



Prosecutor Gerrie Nel took 15 days to lay out his case against the 27-year-old back in March, arguing he deliberately killed Miss Steenkamp by firing four rounds from a 9mm pistol through a closed toilet door.

The personality of the Paralympian gold medallist, who won worldwide fame when he competed on his prosthetic 'blades' against able-bodied runners at the London Olympics, was a focus of the trial.

Prosecutors described him as an egotistical liar obsessed with guns, fast cars and beautiful women, who was not prepared to take responsibility for his actions.

Several neighbours testified to hearing a woman's terrified screams before a volley of shots, countering Pistorius's assertions that he mistook Miss Steenkamp for a burglar.

Cutting through months of complex evidence and testimony, Mr Nel ended proceedings last month by returning to his core argument.

'He knew there was a human being in the toilet. That's his evidence,' Mr Nel told the judge.

'His intention was to kill a human being. He's fired indiscriminately into that toilet. Then m'lady, he is guilty of murder. There must be consequences.'

Mr Nel ended proceedings by making a final plea for the South African athlete, nicknamed the Blade Runner after his carbon-fibre prosthetic running legs, to 'face the consequences' of his actions.

Defence lawyers said there are 'two Oscars' - a world-class athlete and a highly vulnerable individual with a serious disability who acted out of fear, not anger, when he fired the fatal shots.

Defence lawyer Barry Roux said during his own wrapping-up that psychological evidence had proven the track star had a heightened fight response because of his disability and was in a terrified and vulnerable state when he shot Steenkamp.

'You're standing at that door. You're vulnerable. You're anxious. You're trained as an athlete to react.

'Take all those factors into account,' Roux said, adding that Pistorius had felt exposed because he was standing on the stumps of his legs.

'He stands with his finger on the trigger, ready to fire when ready.

'In some instances a person will fire reflexively,' he added. 'That is your primal instinct.'

Mr Nel responded to those claims by insisting that Pistorius undergo psychiatric tests to establish if he was mentally well enough to stand trial.

But, after a court-ordered 30-day assessment, experts ruled that he was capable of understanding the wrongfulness of his actions when he fired the fatal shots.

Mr Roux also argued that prosecutors had only called witnesses who supported their argument and not other key people, including police officers, who he said would have undermined their case.

The case involved physical as well as oral evidence, with one forensic analyst demonstrating in court how Pistorius may have hit the toilet door with a cricket bat.

A key element of the case was the time of Ms Steenkamp's final meal.

Pistorius said they ate at around 7pm on the night she was killed, and went to bed at around 10pm before the shooting in the early hours of the morning.

But the prosecution alleged that a finding that she still had food in her stomach after she was killed contradicted that story.

Both sides used texts sent by the couple to support their case. In one read out by police captain Francois Moller, Ms Steenkamp said: 'I'm scared of u sometimes and how u snap at me and of how u will react to me.'

But the defence claimed such messages were only a fraction of the total taken from the couple's mobile phones by police, and produced others in which they were affectionate.

For example, in January Steenkamp sent Pistorius a photo of herself in a hoodie with the message: 'You like it?'

He replied: 'I love it.'

The trial's tensest and most dramatic moments came in several days of highly charged testimony from Pistorius.

His voice thick with emotion, the athlete began his evidence by saying sorry to Ms Steenkamp's family.

Watched by the model's mother June, he said: 'I was simply trying to protect Reeva. I can promise that when she went to bed that night she felt loved.

Mrs Steenkamp later told Hello! Magazine she has forgiven him. 'I don't hate Oscar,' she said.

Pistorius went on to describe how he had suffered from nightmares and sleeplessness following the incident, while also recounting the impact on him of previous instances of crime.

Later in his testimony, the court had to adjourn as Pistorius broke down sobbing and howling while describing the aftermath of the shooting.'I sat over Reeva and I cried,' he said.

Pistorius was on the stand for five days of intense cross-examination from Mr Nel.

At one point he refused to look at a photograph of Ms Steenkamp's wounds as the prosecutor urged him to 'take responsibility'.

In June, after the trial was halted for a month, experts concluded that Pistorius was not suffering from mental illness at the time of the shooting.

The following month the star's spokeswoman confirmed he got into a row about the trial while out in a nightclub, while in August his older brother Carl Pistorius was left in intensive care after a car crash.

In a tweet on August 8, Oscar Pistorius wrote: 'Thank you to my loved ones and those that have been there for me, who have picked me up and helped me through everything.'

If acquitted of murder, a potential lesser charge of culpable homicide - comparable to manslaughter - could carry a sentence of about 15 years.

Pistorius also faces three separate charges, including two counts of discharging firearms in public and possession of illegal ammunition, all of which he denies.

To arrive at a verdict, Masipa and her two assistants had to weigh up the credibility of testimony on both sides, including that of Pistorius, who endured more than a week of torrid cross-examination during which he broke down repeatedly.

In the absence of a jury, experts say the crux of the case is whether Masipa accepts or rejects his version of events.

While Pistorius was doomed to play the star of a show he would rather not be in, Gerrie Nel and Barry Roux have become co-stars with their own following.

As in the famed live television trial of US football hero OJ Simpson, who was accused of murdering his wife 20 years ago, most viewers seemed to have already decided on Pistorius's guilt or innocence before the verdict.

But unlike the Simpson trial, in which he was controversially acquitted by a jury, Masipa is assisted only by two assessors.

Whatever verdict is handed down, his glittering sporting career is likely to be over.

Once a poster boy for disabled sport, Pistorius has been stripped of lucrative endorsement deals by global brands and has withdrawn from all competition.



Source - Dailymail

 0

You May Like These Videos

Comments

| Comment With Facebook Submit

There are no comments.

Gossip Big Reads

Bird Box finally unveils unknown monsters

by Metro | 2019 January 06 00:20:32 | 4447 Views

Man in critical condition after 'blowing himself up while trying to raid ATM'

by June Mpofu | 2018 December 11 19:39:39 | 13794 Views

Murder suspect pretending to be mute loses voice from underuse

by June Mpofu | 2018 December 11 19:39:46 | 10005 Views

Harrods accidentally sold £1,000 bags for less than £10

by June Mpofu | 2017 December 16 15:42:54 | 10034 Views

Rapper 'whips out' manhood on Instagram

by June Mpofu | 2017 October 31 08:36:03 | 11798 Views

Woman raped in the street as people walk past

by June Mpofu | 2017 October 27 22:04:42 | 12190 Views

Student who inhaled 360 laughing gas canisters in a week may never walk again

by June Mpofu | 2017 October 20 08:05:52 | 11790 Views

Poet tweets that she was raped by SA musician

by Hope Freedom | 2017 October 07 23:02:51 | 12604 Views

Dog bites off chunk of woman's face

by June Mpofu | 2017 September 23 09:04:56 | 11372 Views

Man jailed after tricking children into abusing young relatives

by Prince Cox | 2017 September 06 08:00:14 | 12903 Views

'I gave lift to a ghost' says taxi driver

by June Mpofu | 2017 September 04 18:39:39 | 27850 Views

Son 'stabbed mum to death and ate her heart with a side of chutney'

by June Mpofu | 2017 September 01 20:10:25 | 13516 Views

'Cannibal tired of eating human flesh' hands himself in

by June Mpofu | 2017 August 24 07:59:37 | 11833 Views

Man cut off pregnant girlfriend's nipples with a pair of scissors

by June Mpofu | 2017 August 20 10:24:38 | 13203 Views

Pregnant woman murdered in 'satanic ritual'

by June Mpofu | 2017 August 20 01:27:16 | 14058 Views

No diplomatic immunity for Grace Mugabe after 'splitting open model's head'

by Hope Freedom | 2017 August 15 08:30:38 | 16883 Views

8-year-old dies after cousin dares her to drink boiling water through straw

by June Mpofu | 2017 August 05 10:10:31 | 13751 Views

Girl, 14, was raped twice in one night by different men

by June Mpofu | 2017 July 29 17:06:36 | 13287 Views

Girl, 10, told she can't have abortion after being raped by uncle

by Hope Freedom | 2017 July 22 16:54:59 | 13762 Views

Obsessive woman chases police car helping boyfriend escape her

by June Mpofu | 2017 July 15 21:27:10 | 10911 Views

Man hijacked while peeing

by June Mpofu | 2017 July 08 10:46:55 | 17299 Views

Disabled woman tied to tractor and beaten to death by mob

by Hope Freedom | 2017 July 03 23:10:47 | 17971 Views

Man spends 5 years renovating boat, it sinks as soon as it goes on water

by June Mpofu | 2017 June 30 22:42:43 | 10809 Views

Woman paralysed after having sex

by June Mpofu | 2017 June 26 21:03:25 | 13297 Views

Woman cuts off boyfriend's privates 'after he refused to marry her'

by Prince Cox | 2017 June 24 20:36:31 | 18032 Views

Cancer patient charged with plotting to kill doctors

by June Mpofu | 2017 June 08 09:57:59 | 11765 Views

Former Premier League star dies after collapsing in training

by June Mpofu | 2017 June 05 18:08:44 | 18175 Views

Mugabe 'will decide who goes to heaven' says Zanu-PF youth leader

by June Mpofu | 2017 June 03 09:04:32 | 12030 Views

Daughter had sex with father to stop him from marrying fiancee

by June Mpofu | 2017 June 01 17:52:29 | 13141 Views

Man splits from wife who raped him as boy

by June Mpofu | 2017 May 31 11:53:24 | 15470 Views

Human head trial set to go ahead after delay

by June Mpofu | 2017 May 30 21:23:34 | 12130 Views

American girl, 11, forced to marry rapist

by June Mpofu | 2017 May 29 14:28:03 | 13935 Views

Fed up residents hold Mayor hostage

by June Mpofu | 2017 May 25 08:51:43 | 12802 Views

Homeless hero who pulled nails out of children's faces is given a home

by Prince Cox | 2017 May 24 20:11:55 | 13259 Views

Heartbroken wife dies after husband's mistress sent her indecent pictures

by Prince Cox | 2017 May 22 08:35:57 | 33999 Views

Father jailed after raping daughter for 20 years

by Hope Freedom | 2017 May 20 09:51:11 | 15423 Views

Driver miraculously unharmed after lorry completely crushes his BMW

by June Mpofu | 2017 May 20 09:59:37 | 11806 Views

Saddam Hussain arrested for pretending to be Osama Bin Laden

by June Mpofu | 2017 May 16 23:42:36 | 11300 Views

Student left with painful scars after tattoo removal goes wrong

by June Mpofu | 2017 May 15 20:45:37 | 14855 Views

Three people die of Ebola in the Democratic Republic of Congo

by June Mpofu | 2017 May 12 15:31:35 | 12148 Views

'Shoplifter' bleeds to death after falling on 'stolen' bottles

by June Mpofu | 2017 May 09 21:49:08 | 15202 Views

82 Chibok schoolgirls freed by Boko Haram

by June Mpofu | 2017 May 07 09:19:48 | 32590 Views

Woman arrested after biting love rival's privates

by June Mpofu | 2017 May 06 19:03:59 | 11554 Views