PRETORIA, South Africa – While Oscar Pistorius was found not guilty of murder, but convicted of culpable homicide, a lesser charge that comes with no minimum jail sentence, his family said Friday there are "no victors" coming out of Courtroom GD.
"We as a family remain deeply affected by the devastating tragedy," Arnold Pistorius, the Paralympian's uncle, said outside the courtroom. "And it won’t bring Reeva [Steenkamp] back. But our hearts still go out for her family and friends.”
Asking Pistorius to stand, Masipa read her decision.
Not guilty of murder. "Instead," Masipa said, as Pistorius, reactionless, looked on, "he's found guilty of culpable homicide."
As Masipa read the verdict, Steenkamp’s parents remained silent, their faces drawn. Steenkamp’s cousin Kim began sobbing in the public gallery.
Pistorius, 27, also faced three gun charges – two for discharging a gun in public, one for illegal possession of ammunition. Masipa found him guilty of one of those charges – negligently handling a firearm in a restaurant.
"They are not in a good state," Mofokeng said. "They are not happy their daughter is no more."
PRETORIA, South Africa – Through the nearly five hours of his closing arguments Friday, Oscar Pistorius' attorney, Barry Roux, moved from indignation to pleading, ending with righteous confidence and a demand for acquittal.
Pistorius, on trial for the shooting death of girlfriend Reeva Steenkamp on Valentine's Day 2013, barely moved while sitting stiffly in the dock during his attorney's robust speech – a summary of more than two hundred pages of written argument.
But after his legal team completed its presentation of his defense, palpable tension eased; his sister, Aimee, smiling for the first time in weeks, his uncle, Arnold, grinning from the public gallery.
A few hours later, Pistorius himself tweeted his gratitude after 41 days in court: "Thank you to my loved ones and those that have been there for me, who have picked me up and helped me through everything."
Although the strain of his murder trial may have diminished with the end of argument, it is not a reprieve.
The next time he returns to Courtroom GD – on Sept. 11 – it will be to hear Judge Thokozile Masipa's verdict.
Sliding scale of conviction options
No conspiracy, just incompetence
Oscar Pistorius Trial Day 40: Prosecutor says athletes' account 'devoid of any truth' during closing arguments
PRETORIA, South Africa – Prosecutor Gerrie Nel labeled murder-accused Oscar Pistorius "deceitful" and an "appalling witness" while making his case for a life sentence during Thursday's closing arguments.
The prosecution said, regardless of who the Paralympian meant to shoot through his toilet door on Feb. 14 last year, he is guilty of premeditated murder. The star athlete is on trial for the shooting death of his girlfriend Reeva Steenkamp in the pre-dawn hours of Valentine's Day.
"The court, with respect, must fully reject his version," Nel declared.
Pistorius fidgeted in the dock between stifling yawns, appearing to shed a brief tear only when several of Steenkamp's WhatsApp messages were read out in court. His estranged father Henke – making his first appearance in Courtroom GD since the beginning of his son's murder trial – watched emotionless from the family bench.
On the other end of the crammed public gallery, Steenkamp's father Barry, spent his first day at the trial of the man who shot his daughter, clutching his wife June.
A deceitful witness, 'victim of circumstance'
A snowball of lies
"A farce," Nel said.
PRETORIA, South Africa – After 39 court days over five months, dozens of witnesses, a month of psychiatric evaluation, tears, shouts and accusations, we're nearing the final stretch of Oscar Pistorius' murder trial by all accounts.
The Paralympian will return to the dock in Pretoria's High Court Thursday to listen to the final arguments, courtesy of two of South Africa's top attorneys: defense lawyer Barry Roux and state prosecutor "Bull Terrier" Gerrie Nel.
Judge Thokozile Masipa has already received fat folders of written arguments from both sides, but this will be the only opportunity for them to argue their version of events directly in front of the stern lady herself.
Accused of the murder of his girlfriend Reeva Steenkamp in the pre-dawn hours of Valentine's Day 2013, the star athlete maintains he fired his 9mm through the door of his toilet cubicle in an attempt to protect them both, believing her to be an intruder.
The pages of the court record already numbers in the thousands, but in the adjournment silence, public speculation appears to have superseded the evidence.
Here, we attempt to untangle conjecture from fact.
Is he guilty?
What happens now?
PRETORIA, South Africa – Prosecutor Gerrie Nel ended his lengthy cross-examination with the defense's star witness exactly where he wanted him.
Over his three days on the stand, professor Wayne Derman, a sports physician, gave compelling testimony, describing how Paralympian Oscar Pistorius' disability made him vulnerable and deeply fearful; how it might cause him to make different decisions than an able-bodied person facing a perceived attacker.
Much of Judge Thokozile Masipa's decision – murder or a lesser charge – will rest on what she believes to be the athlete's intent in firing his 9mm at a locked bathroom door in the early hours of Valentine's morning last year, when he shot and killed his girlfriend Reeva Steenkamp.
And that is where Nel chose to end his interrogation of ostensibly the defense's last witness.
Intent to kill
"He [Pistorius], with intention to kill, shot the person behind the door. That's what he wanted to do, and that's what he did. Do you want to comment on that?" Nel asked Derman.
"I understand that," the professor said.
"I have nothing further," he said.
PRETORIA, South Africa – It was a cross-examination that turned into a standoff.
Professor Wayne Derman, in a neat dark suit and tie on the stand, his right arm outstretched in front of him, his left grasping an imaginary wall.
Prosecutor Gerrie Nel inspected the witness' stance – allegedly a demonstration of Paralympian Oscar Pistorius' movements as he approached the danger he believed lurked at the end of his bathroom passage on Valentine's morning last year.
Derman cocked his head. "Are you happy, sir ?" he challenged the prosecutor.
"Mr Derman, the court indicated to you that you should address the court , and not me," Nel retorted.
"Those sarcastic questions is not doing your credibility good," he added, waving his glasses around with a pitying smile. "It does nothing to me."
Embarrassed, the professor looked to the judge for support, only to be met with a stern stare.
"My lady, I'm sorry. It's in response to being asked to show, to demonstrate certain things. I just get the feeling that I'm being on trial here," Derman told Judge Thokozile Masipa.
"The third sound," he replied.
PRETORIA, South Africa – It was a good day in court for Oscar Pistorius.
After 19 days of presenting evidence, Oscar Pistorius' defense finally got to the crux of its case with its – allegedly – last witness.
Sports Medicine Professor Wayne Derman, seemingly the defense's star expert witness in the Paralympian's murder trial, says people with disabilities live under greater threat of attack, and have a different fight-or-flight response to able-bodied adults.
It is crucial testimony in support of the athlete, who maintains that when he shot and killed his girlfriend Reeva Steenkamp in the early hours of Valentine's morning last year, he believed her to be an intruder and was trying to protect them both.
In a blow for the prosecution, the findings of psychologist Jonathan Scholtz – one of the mental health experts who conducted Pistorius' 30-day psychiatric assessment – also supports Derman's testimony.
Pistorius' "putative self defense" strategy relies on his ability to demonstrate that he genuinely feared for his life when he fired his 9mm pistol four times through a locked toilet door.
The independent report is an unexpected boon for the defense.
PRETORIA, South Africa – Fast cars. Favors owed by Italian rock stars. Intercontinental business class flights with his girlfriend at his side. Plans to jet to Tuscany to listen to opera. A deluge of lucrative corporate sponsorship deals.
Murder-accused Paralympian Oscar Pistorius sat silently in the dock Tuesday, his expression inscrutable as his manager described the life he would be leading had the star athlete not shot his girlfriend Reeva Steenkamp dead in the early hours of Valentine's Day last year.
But amid talk of massive contracts being proffered in the wake of the London 2012 Olympics – worth five to six times Pistorius' then salary, according to agent Peet Van Zyl – it appeared to be the image of his lost future life with the blonde model that broke him.
As Van Zyl spoke of Pistorius' request to have Steenkamp travel with him to two upcoming athletic exhibition events – a week before he shot her through a toilet door – the athlete dissolved into quiet sobs.
"For me it was a first. He had never asked me for anything like this," Van Zyl told the court of Pistorius' desire to have his girlfriend accompany him to Brazil and Mexico.
PRETORIA, South Africa – After a 40-day adjournment to evaluate his mental health, Paralympian Oscar Pistorius' expression as he re-entered Pretoria's High Court appeared immutable; composed but resigned.
On Day 34 of his murder trial, the star athlete's face barely moved as prosecutor Gerrie Nel read aloud from the two reports submitted by the panel of four experts who assessed him.
They were unanimous.
"At the time of the alleged offenses, the accused did not suffer from a mental disorder or a mental defect that affected his ability to distinguish between the rightful and wrongful nature of his deeds.
"A mental disorder or mental defect did not affect his ability to act in accordance with the said appreciation of the rightful and wrongful nature of his deeds," read the one-page report from the three psychiatrists – including one appointed by the defense.
The psychologist's extensive report – comprising more than an inch of pages compiled in the judge's hand – echoed the sentiment.
Both defense and prosecution have publicly accepted the panel's findings, that Pistorius did not lack "criminal responsibility" for his actions.
PRETORIA, South Africa – In less than a week, Oscar Pistorius must report to Weskoppies Psychiatric Hospital on the outskirts of the capital to begin his month-long psychiatric evaluation.
He will be assessed as an outpatient at the facility, starting at 9 a.m. Monday, Judge Thokozile Masipa ruled, a concession sources told Yahoo Sports is "extraordinary."
In a dark gray overcoat, Pistorius stood expressionless in the dock to receive Masipa's order Tuesday.
Masipa has requested that the Paralympian – accused of the premeditated murder of girlfriend Reeva Steenkamp in the early hours of Valentine's morning last year – present himself every weekday morning for seven hours, or until he is "formally excused" at the hospital, until court proceedings reconvene June 30.
Much is at the discretion of the psychiatric facility and the panel of four experts that will assess him: the duration of the observation periods, whether they will be conducted daily or only on weekdays, and where in the large Weskoppies facility they will take place.
Is Pistorius getting special treatment?
How will it work exactly?
Who will perform the evaluation?
How important is this assessment?