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South African sportsman Oscar Pistorius was found not guilty of the premeditated murder of his 29-year-old model girlfriend Reeva Steenkamp on Thursday. Judge Thokozile Masipa is expected to deliver a verdict of culpable homicide, which is defined as the ‘unlawful negligent killing of a human being’ and is roughly likened to manslaughter, when she resumes on Friday, having closed her statements claiming his “conduct was negligent.”
Masipa ruled out the most serious charge of premeditated murder, telling the court that the evidence was “purely circumstantial” and that Pistorius “did not subjectively foresee this as a possibility that he would kill the person behind the [bathroom] door, let alone the deceased.” However, she did say that there was “no doubt he acted unlawfully” when he fired the gun.
Pistorius had denied intentionally killing Steenkamp, claiming he thought there was an intruder in the house on the night of Valentine’s Day, Feb. 14, 2013.
Since it started last year, the murder case became one of the most high-profile trials across the world, with Pistorius among South African’s biggest names and a growing global celebrity figure, having won multiple Paralympics medals alongside winning competitions in able-bodied competitions. Judge Masipa also ruled that parts of the trial could be broadcast live via television, prompting many news channels to give it wall-to-wall coverage.
Forty days of evidence was given in a court in the northern South African city of Pretoria, with the international media focusing on Pistorius’ deteriorating emotional state throughout.
In her closing statements on Thursday, Judge Masipa said that the press coverage had affected the evidence given by many witnesses, saying that the media attention and coverage in people’s homes “did not assist.”
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