Judge: Pistorius Guilty Of Culpable Homicide

Judge Thokozile Masipa has convicted Oscar Pistorius of culpable homicide and acquitted him of murder in her final judgement delivered today. After six months of painstaking testimony from over 30 witnesses and experts, Judge Masipa began delivering her judgement on Thursday but stopped abruptly before pronouncing a verdict. While not delivering a verdict yesterday, Judge Masipa clearly ruled out the charges of premeditated murder and murder without premeditation, as reported in an earlier Inquisitr story. The judge, yesterday, also gave some indication that Pistorius would be convicted on the charge of culpable homicide. David Smith of The Guardian, reporting live from the trial in Pretoria, reported that Judge Masipa made it clear that Pistorius acted negligently by firing four shots through the toilet cubicle door.

“A reasonable person would not have fired four shots into the toilet cubicle,” she said

Pistorius, “acted too hastily and used excessive force…it is clear his conduct was negligent,” the judge concluded.

Judge Masipa in giving her assessment of culpability had already outlined that Pistorius was competent in the use of firearms, and to this end did not act reasonably. Her judgement was wrapped up in a series of rhetorical questions.

Would a reasonable person have foreseen that whoever was behind the door might have been struck by a bullet and die? Would a reasonable person have taken steps to guard against that possibility? The answer to both questions is yes. The last question is, did the accused fail to take steps which he should reasonably have taken to guard against the consequences? again the answer is yes.

The announcement of Judge Masipa’s ruling has triggered a range of reactions in South Africa. The BBC has reported that the judge’s decision to clear Pistorius of murder charges has unsettled many in the public and legal domains. The headline from one South African newspaper read “Crying Shame,” showing a picture of Pistorius crying. Another newspaper had as its headline “What Now?,” questioning the competence of Judge Masipa. Women’s groups have also added their voice, expressing shock and disappointment with the judge.

Justine Lang, TV news producer for the BBC, a half hour before the resumption of court today, tweeted her disapproval.

Do you think a guy in the townships who shoots four times into a shack thinking he is in danger would get off murder? #Pistoriusverdict

Culpable homicide carries a maximum jail sentence of 15 years, but it is up to the judge’s discretion what sentence Pistorius gets.

[image from BBC]

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