Oscar Pistorius Guilty of Culpable Homicide, Gun Charge
Oscar Pistorius, the South African track star known as the "Blade Runner," has been found guilty of culpable homicide in the shooting death of his girlfriend.
Following a six-month trial, the former Olympic athlete was convicted of culpable homicide -- the South African equivalent of manslaughter -- for killing his girlfriend Reeva Steenkamp last year, reports USA Today. Pistorius was also convicted on a weapons charge related to firing a handgun in a restaurant only weeks before Steenkamp's death.
What led the judge to convict Pistorius of homicide, and what criminal penalties might he now face?
Prosecutors Failed to Prove Murder: Judge
Pistorius' convictions come one day after Judge Thokozile Masipa acquitted Pistorius of the more serious charge of murder. The judge said that prosecutors had failed to show Pistorius had intended to kill Steenkamp.
However, culpable homicide, similar to the U.S. justice system's involuntary manslaughter, required only that Pistorius be found negligent in firing a gun through a bathroom door where Steenkamp had locked herself.
Pistorius had claimed that he thought Steenkamp was still in bed when he shot through the door, believing that it was an intruder. Judge Masipa said yesterday in announcing her acquittal of Pistorius for premeditated murder that the prosecution's evidence against Pistorius was circumstantial and its witnesses unconvincing.
Possible Jail Time
Although acquitted of the more serious charge, Pistorius still faces potential jail time. In South Africa, the maximum penalty for culpable homicide is 15 years in prison.
In addition, Pistorius was convicted on one of the three additional charges he was facing. He was found guilty of unlawfully firing a gun in public, but acquitted on the charge of illegal possession of ammo and a separate count of illegally firing a gun in public.
Pistorius is currently free on bail and will return to court for sentencing on October 13th.
Follow FindLaw for Consumers on Facebook and Twitter (@FindLawConsumer).
- Oscar Pistorius convicted of negligent killing, could face jail time (Los Angeles Times)
- Oscar Pistorius Trial: 5 Legal Facts You May Not Know (FindLaw's Tarnished Twenty)
- 'Blade Runner' Oscar Pistorius Charged in Girlfriend's Murder (FindLaw's Tarnished Twenty)
- Oscar Pistorius' Alleged Acting Lessons Are Nothing New (FindLaw's Tarnished Twenty)
You Don’t Have To Solve This on Your Own – Get a Lawyer’s Help
Meeting with a lawyer can help you understand your options and how to best protect your rights. Visit our attorney directory to find a lawyer near you who can help.