Oscar Pistorius trial verdict: What are the remaining possible outcomes?

Judge Thokozile Masipa says Oscar Pistorius is not guilty of murdering his girlfriend Reeva Steenkamp and adjourns the verdict until Friday

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The Independent Online

The judge in Oscar Pistorius’ murder trial has said that the Paralympic athlete is not guilty of murdering his girlfriend Reeva Steenkamp. The verdict has been adjourned until Friday.

Judge Masipa said on Thursday that the state has failed to prove beyond reasonable doubt that Pistorius is guilty of premeditated murder, and also indicated that he could not be found guilty of a lesser murder charge.

In South Africa, a premeditated murder charge carries a minimum prison sentence of 25 years before the chance of parole, whereas a murder without pre-planning carries a minimum sentence of 15 years in prison.

Oscar Pistorius trial live

With these ruled out, Pistorius faces the remaining charges:

Guilty of culpable homicide (manslaughter)

If Judge Masipa finds that Pistorius did not intend to kill Ms Steenkamp, but did so by firing recklessly, he would be acquitted of murder, but may face a charge of culpable homicide (manslaughter). This focuses on negligence rather than intent, and so carries a lesser sentence of five years, which can be increased or decreased depending on the circumstances surrounding the killing.

Guilty of discharging firearms in public

Pistorius is also charged with two unrelated charges of discharging a firearm in public – once in restaurant in 2013, and once through a car sun roof in 2012. The athlete could be sentenced to five years in prison on each count, however Judge Masipa would be far more likely to impose a non custodial sentence such as a fine.

Guilty of illegal possession of ammunition

Pistorius has admitted to being in possession of ammunition for an unlicensed firearm. This could carry a sentence of 15 years in prison.


Not guilty on all charges

If Judge Masipa accepts that Pistorius had no intention to kill and acted in self-defence - formally known as ‘putative private defence’ - and was not guilty of the other three charges that have been brought against him, he would leave the court a free man.

Sentencing and appeal

If there is a conviction, a second trial will begin with the prosecutors and defence will have the chance to present further witnesses – from family members to psychiatrists – before Judge Masipa decides if and how long Pistorius goes to prison.

After a sentence is delivered, Pistorius will be able to appeal both the conviction and the sentence.

Additional reporting by AP