Oscar Pistorius Verdict Changed To Murder For Death Of Reeva Steenkamp

South African Olympic athlete Oscar Pistorius has been convicted of murder for the death of girlfriend Reeva Steenkamp. The original conviction of culpable homicide was overturned by the South Africa’s Supreme Court of Appeal.

Pistorius is currently under house arrest after serving one year in prison. He was given a five-year prison-sentence when found guilty on September 12, 2014. As the BBC reports, Oscar Pistorius will have to return to court to be re-sentenced for murder. That will likely happen when the court reconvenes sometime in mid-January of next year. As Chron reports, Pistorius will receive his ruling at the North Gauteng High Court.

The fatal shots happened on Valentine’s Day, 2013. The prosecution from the original case claimed that the shots were fired as part of a lover’s dispute, and not because Pistorius thought he was in danger from an intruder in the bathroom.

The sprinter shot and killed South African model Steenkamp through a locked bathroom door. Pistorius claims he believed Steenkamp was an intruder hiding in the bathroom. Upon review of the evidence, the Supreme Court of Appeal decided that the lower court did not appropriately apply the rule of dolus eventualis – that is, whether or not Pistorius would have known his actions would most likely result in the death of the victim.

In South Africa, the minimum sentence for a murder conviction is fifteen years. The South Africa legal system does not allow house arrest that lasts more than five years, so Pistorius will return to prison to serve his new sentence. While Pistorius maintained that he believed an intruder was behind the door, Justice Lorimer Leach said that the identity of the person behind the door is irrelevant. The fact that Pistorius knew the shots would likely be fatal is all that is required for a murder conviction.

Justice Leach delivered the ruling today. The South African Supreme Court of Appeal consists of five judges.

The only chance Pistorius would have to appeal this decision would be if his constitutional rights had been violated. Experts believe such an appeal would be unlikely.

Culpable homicide — the equivalent of manslaughter — with a sentence of five years was seen as too light of a punishment for Pistorius by many. Nicknamed “The Blade Runner,” the double amputee and was the first double leg amputee to compete in the Olympics.

Reeva Steenkamp had been a model for almost fifteen years before she was murdered at the age of twenty nine. Born in Cape Town, she also studied law at the University of Port Elizabeth. After graduating with a Bachelor of law degree in 2005, she applied to the bar in 2011.

As a model, Reeva was featured several times in FHM and represented Avon in South Africa.

As The Sun reported, Oscar Pistorius was not at the ruling, which took place in a Blomfontein court today. Members of Reeva’s family, including her mother June, were present. It was the verdict that they had been waiting to hear for more than two years.

[Photo by Getty Images Pool]