Oscar Pistorius Did Not Intentionally Kill Girlfriend Reeva Steenkamp, Judge Rules

Oscar Pistorious
Posted at 8:26 AM, Sep 11, 2014
and last updated 2014-09-11 04:38:12-04

PRESTORIA, South Africa (ABC News) -- Oscar Pistorius did not intentionally kill his girlfriend in a 2013 shooting, a South African judge ruled, but the former Olympian could still be convicted of culpable homicide in today’s verdict proceedings.

Pistorius broke down into sobs as Judge Thokozile Masipa found the athlete not guilty of murder.

After a lunch break Thursday, the judge announced she will read the rest of her judgement Friday.

Masipa called Pistorius a “very poor witness” during the murder trial and found he was at times vague and avoided answering some of the prosecution's questions. Despite that, she says this does not necessarily indicate his guilt.

The charge of culpable homicide, similar to manslaughter in the United States, still remains. Pistorius also faces two counts of discharging a gun in a public area, as well as illegal possession of ammunition.

If he is found guilty of murder without premeditation, or culpable homicide, he could receive a 15-year sentence as a first time offender. Mitigating factors, such as his emotional state, anxiety levels and disability could result in a lesser sentence.

Steenkamp was shot and killed on Valentine’s Day 2013. Pistorius has argued that the shooting was an accident, that he mistook Steenkamp for an intruder.

The judge is offering her insight and analysis on the evidence given by dozens of witnesses in the case. The verdict on Steenkamp’s shooting death was expected to span over two days but looks set to finish today.

As Masipa began reading her ruling, Pistorius appeared tense and emotional. He was later seen crying.

Earlier, he squeezed through the media throng awaiting outside the courtroom.

The trial has spanned five months, prolonged by several interruptions including a month-long break so the paralympian sprinter could be examined by mental health experts.

Pistorius -- known as “Blade Runner” for his prosthetic legs -- served as an international inspiration after performing in the London 2012 Olympics.

Masipa, along with two assistants, are tasked with determining whether Pistorius is guilty or innocent. South Africa does not use jury trials.