Oscar Pistorius Found Guilty of Culpable Homicide

Oscar Pistorius Trail 3/24 - H 2014
AP Images

Oscar Pistorius Trail 3/24 - H 2014

The South African athlete will be sentenced on Oct. 13

A South African judge on Friday found athlete Oscar Pistorius guilty of "culpable homicide." 

The verdict came a day after the judge said he was not guilty of premeditated murder of his 29-year-old model girlfriend Reeva Steenkamp.

Judge Thokozile Masipa delivered the verdict of culpable homicide, which is defined as the "unlawful negligent killing of a human being" and is roughly likened to manslaughter, on Friday around midday local time. She had finished her Thursday statements by saying his "conduct was negligent." The proceedings were live-streamed by the BBC.

Pistorius said he thought there was an intruder in the house on the night of Valentine’s Day 2013 when he shot Steenkamp. The judge said he acted "too hastily" and used "excessive force" when firing four shots through a bathroom door, arguing a "reasonable" person would not do that. Overall, she concluded his conduct was "negligent."  

The judge also found Pistorius guilty of negligently handling and firing a gun in a restaurant, but acquitted him of a charge in a separate shooting incident and an illegal ammunition charge. South Africa doesn't use juries.

Pistorius is scheduled to be sentenced on Oct. 13. The BBC reported that the verdict gives the judge latitude in the sentencing. "Culpable homicide" carries a maximum jail sentence of 15 years, but he could also get a suspended sentence. 

Ever since it started last year, the murder case quickly became one of the most high-profile trials across the world, with Pistorius among South Africa’s biggest names, having won multiple Paralympics medals along with winning competitions in able-bodied competitions. The judge had ruled that parts of the trial could be broadcast live via television, prompting many news channels to give it wall-to-wall coverage.

Sept. 12, 4:19 a.m. Updated with more information on the sentencing.

Email: Georg.Szalai@THR.com
Twitter: @georgszalai