Paralympian Oscar Pistorius is due to hear the verdict of his murder trial this week, bringing an end to an exhaustive, sensational televised trial six months after it began. Pistorius, the South African double-amputee, will learn his fate on Thursday, September 11.
The trial has spanned six and a half months, during which Pistorius, also known as the Blade Runner due to his scythe-like prosthetics he uses to race, has always maintained he mistook Reeva Steenkamp, his then girlfriend, for an intruder and panicked, shooting through the bathroom door out of fear early on Valentine’s Day in 2013.
Oscar Pistorius, 27, could face up to 25 years in prison if the judge finds him guilty of premeditated murder. The judge entrusted to deliver Pistorius’ verdict is Judge Thokozile Masipa, a jurist known for handing down long prison sentences for men who kill their romantic partners.
The prosecution presented the argument that the couple had gotten into a quarrel preceding the shooting which led to Pistorius deliberately firing four bullets at the bikini model, who had locked herself in the bathroom.
Neighbors, expert witnesses and Pistorius have all testified in court as Judge Thokozile Matilda Masipa looks to determine the future of the defendant.
Barry Roux, lawyer for Pistorius, argued the defendant had no motive for killing his girlfriend and said the athlete’s disability meant he could not be expected to respond like an able-bodied person to the fear associated with an intrusion. However, prosecutor Gerrie Nel alleges that Pistorius intended to shoot and kill Ms Steenkamp when the Paralympian fired four times into the bathroom where she was hiding after they had an argument.
Oscar Pistorius could spend years in prison even if he is acquitted of deliberately murdering his girlfriend. If Pistorius is acquitted of premeditated murder, Judge Masipa could still convict him of murder, which means that the double-amputee athlete did not conspire to kill Ms. Steenkamp despite killing her. It would result in a compulsory sentence of 15 years.
Pistorius has also admitted being in possession of ammunition for a firearm for which he does not have a licence. The prescribed sentence on this count is 15 years in prison.
Oscar Pistorius made history at the London 2012 Olympics when he became the first amputee sprinter to compete in the able-bodied Games, running in the 400m and 4x400m relay. Pistorius became the first amputee to win an able-bodied world track medal. At the 2012 Summer Paralympics, ‘the blade runner’ won gold medals in the men’s 400-meter race and in the 4 × 100 meter relay, setting world records in both events. He also took a silver in the 200 meter race, having set a world record in the semi-final.
What do you think the verdict will be on Thursday on the Oscar Pistorius case?