Paralympian Oscar Pistorius has been found not guilty of murdering his lover Reeva Steenkamp during a shooting at his home in the early hours of Valentine's Day, 2013. He could still be found guilty on lesser charges, however.
Pistorius, 27, broke down in tears and bowed his head in the dock as Judge Thokozile Masipa delivered the verdict at the Pretoria High Court in South Africa on Thursday, September 11.
The athlete had stood accused of deliberately shooting his girlfriend during a heated argument. For his part, Pistorius had always maintained he had shot his 29-year-old girlfriend, a model and law graduate, in self-defense, mistaking her for an intruder.
Judge Masipa described the Olympic sprinter as a "very poor" and "evasive" witness, but said this was not evidence that Pistorius was guilty of the charge.
"The state has not proved beyond reasonable doubt that the accused is guilty of premeditated murder," Masipa said. "There are just not enough facts to support such a finding."
Masipa accepted the defense’s timeline of events, ruling that the shooting took place at 3:12 in the morning. This was crucial as it meant screams heard by neighbors at 3:17 a.m. were those of a distraught Pistorius, not of Steenkamp and Pistorius arguing.
Pistorius, the first double amputee to compete in the Olympics, is still waiting to hear the judge's verdict on the charge of culpable homicide, or manslaughter, and other firearms offenses.
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