“He acted too hastily and used excessive force,” Masipa said.
Pistorius also faces gun charges that carry potential prison sentences. But a murder charge is out, for the time being anyway. The prosecution can appeal the decision and, if they do, Pistorius could still be convicted of murder.
In her summation, Masipa said the prosecution “failed to show requisite intention to kill the deceased, let alone premeditation.” She also ruled out dolus eventualis – the grey area between premeditated murder and culpable homicide.
Under dolus eventualis, if Pistorius should have foreseen that his actions could result in death, yet recklessly proceeded anyway, it still would have been considered murder in South African law. That would have come with a minimum sentence of 15 years.
Oscar Pistorius in one of his sporting events
- Phone records support Pistorius’ timeline of events.
- Witness testimony that Pistorius and Steenkamp were heard arguing prior to the shooting was not supported by the established timeline.
- Pistorius relayed his version of events – that he thought an intruder had entered his home – minutes after the shooting took place, and that his version did not waver later in questioning. Masipa agreed with the defense that it would be “highly improbable” for Pistorius to have made up this story so quickly, and that his version remained unwavered throughout questioning even without access to his original statement or evidence from the scene.
- The prosecution’s case was built largely on circumstantial evidence.
However, if Pistorius is convicted of culpable homicide and the judge hands down a stiff sentence, it’s highly unlikely that the state will appeal. If she acquits him entirely, an appeal would be expected.