Oscar Pistorius Trial: Judge Thokozile Masipa Says Murder Charge Cannot Be Proven
Judge Thokozile Masipa has told the Oscar Pistorius trial 'there are not enough facts' to support the prosecution's case that the athlete intended to kill his girlfriend Reeva Steenkamp.
She told Pretoria High Court there was 'no doubt' when Pistorius fired his gun 'he acted unlawfully', but will wait until Friday before ruling on whether he is guilty of a lesser crime of culpable homicide – manslaughter in other countries – over the 29-year-old model's death.
However, she found he acted 'negligently, 'too hastily' and used 'excessive force' while failing to take steps to avoid the resultant death.
Judge Masipa cleared the paralympian of both premeditated and second-degree murder three hours into delivering her judgment on whether Pistorius will spend years in prison for shooting dead Ms Steenkamp.
She said the charge of premeditated murder relied on 'circumstantial evidence from the State'.
“The State has not proved beyond reasonable doubt that the accused is guilty of premeditated murder. There are just not enough facts to support such a finding,” she said.
Pistorius was charged with one count of murder, two of illegally discharging a firearm – which is unrelated to Ms Steenkamp's death – and one of illegally possessing ammunition.
He pleaded not guilty to all the charges.
The 27-year-old, his head down and shoulders shaking, was visibly distressed and wept in court as the judge recounted the events of Valentine's Day last year.
The prosecution has suggested he stormed down his bedroom corridor after his frightened girlfriend in a jealous rage and deliberately shot her through the toilet door.
The double amputee sprinter has insisted he was terrified and felt excessively vulnerable due to his disability and shot Ms Steenkamp in a tragic accident, believing her to be an intruder.
South Africa has no jury system so Judge Masipa is deciding on the verdicts herself with the help of two assessors.